The Offing magazine features:
“Antigone 3000” — Introduction by Kate Durbin
The character of Antigone, an enduring symbol of uprising and resistance to the state and society, has shape-shifted from a tragic mythical figure to a contemporary emblem of the risks and consequences of standing up for what you believe in a hostile world. She has been re-envisioned by Mexican poet Sara Uribe in Antigóna Gonzalez (Les Figues Press, translated by Les John Pluecker) and Jean Anouilh’s Nazi resistance direction of Antigone. Her hold on the collective imagination has not waned.
While the play itself is central to Los Angeles painter Alexandra Grant’s Antigone 3000, this new series of abstract paintings delves beyond the language of Sophocles into the play’s subterranean depths.
Inspired by Rorschach’s psychological tests, which are designed to reveal the viewer’s subconscious beliefs, Grant sees her paintings as “half-Rorschachs,” or stains. The stain is perhaps a perfect representation for Antigone, this figure who never vanishes from a collective history, who keeps reappearing in different forms, wearing different faces, fighting for different causes.
Antigone is a stain we cannot seem to remove, a stain that appears like all stains, completely inconveniently, serving as a reminder of inconvenient truths — like love. Love, the force that builds worlds, has been centered in Grant’s work before, including in the grantLOVE project, which helped fund the Love House Project in Watts. It was Antigone’s claim to Kreon that she “was born to love, not to hate” that incited Grant’s Antigone 3000. It is Antigone’s love that demands she honor her dead; it is love that leads, ultimately, to her death.
When a person is shot in a movie, often there is a moment of total stillness, after which a bloom of red appears on their clothing. Their mouth falls open. Trembling, they touch the red. They are amazed. In that moment, I like to imagine that they are realizing two things simultaneously: that they are alive, oh so alive, more alive than they’ve ever been in their whole dead life. And that, before any of us are able to grasp the significance of that revelation, we die.
What are we born for? Not to hate, but to love.