Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beeing bees

So Sunday being a beautiful autumnal day and not snowing, and it being the putative day of rest, and also being the feast of the remarkable and remarkably weird Blessed Christina of Stommeln*, CSB and I went to Wave Hill to see Hive Culture.
To be honest, CSB did not initially see the point of going to an art exhibit about bees when we have so many bees right here. He softened a little when faced with this lovely bee wallpaper, not that he gave much thought to actually wallpapering the powder room with it (my idea). **
Nor did he think flowers sculpted from beeswax were the best use of beeswax, but I thought they were lovely in a cloying Victorian kind of way.

But our favorite by far was a video of a young woman dressed in a white sheath uncannily like a straitjacket who turns herself as a bee. This transformation includes spitting into an array of hexagonal jars while flapping her arms, and wending her way through a maze-like pattern of piled up fleece balls (pollen), moving them from pile to pile. It is true that I have, by popular demand, been known to perform the waggle dance, but this young woman took the concept and ran with it.
Why didn’t I think of this?

*Christina (1242-1312) lived in a village near Cologne in the 14th century. Clearly she was precocious, or something. At the age of 10 she announced that she was engaged to Jesus, and then she ran away to the convent where she experienced many hallucinations, including Satan disguised at St Bartholomew urging her to commit suicide. In her twenties she became friendly with a Dominican called Father Peter, and he was lucky enough to witness her being tossed around the room, pierced and stabbed, all by an invisible satanic presence. It is thanks to his excellent note-taking that we know the gruesome details of Christina’s holiness; Butler’s Live of the Saints is more squeamish: “But the manifestation of which Father Peter gives the most careful and detailed account was of so repulsive a nature that no particulars can of it can be given here.” Since Butler does feel comfortable relating how Christina found herself buried in a mud pit on one occasion and had hot stones attached to her body by Satan on another, I am afraid that for someone like me to read something like that is an invitation to imagine all sorts of kinky and disgusting torments.

**(Bee Wallpaper by Rob Keller, 2007) It wasn't until I got home and really stared at the bee wallpaper on the brochure that I realized what felt uncanny about it: my late, ex-husband, the late-lamented Jeff,being obsessive about many things, went through a period of obsessively digitally multiplying photographic images to produce patterns similar to this bee wallpaper. Being vociferously anti-Catholic, one of his stranger images featured a stained glass Jesus Christ kaleidoscopically repeated. It was very colorful.

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