‘Socrates points, the crowd roars’ is a renamed and expanded series that I began in 2020 in connection with my exhibition at Jir Sandel.
One of the first things we are taught as children is to point. We point to things, to ourselves and to others, in order to indicate what we look towards and to differentiate the myriad world around us. Pointing is the first and most fundamental human gesture which connects body and mind to the external world.
A foam hand, commonly known as a foam finger, is a sports paraphernalia item worn on the hand to show support for a particular team. The most common version resembles an oversized hand with an extended index finger.
In several paintings from various time periods Socrates raising his index finger is a distinct feature. All of the depictions are in relation to his death; either he is holding his last lecture, making his final apology, raising his hand to the air as a final gesture of authoritative defiance. Even in death after drinking a deadly fill of hemlock, he is still depicted with this same pointed finger, as if this gesture were somehow an immortal statement upon the airy abstract world of ideas and philosophy.
The series of foam fingers is made from these paintings with the intention of clashing and conflating two types of Western culture: the high and the low. Furthermore, it unites the ancient and the modern into a single object. Socrates and the Greek philosophers are largely seen as the very cornerstone of western culture and civilisation, whereas the foam fist is a contemporary symbol of pop culture and a brand of Americanism that has spread worldwide.
Hand painted on Plastazote