Paul Fryer lives and works in London. His current solo show is Potential & Ground.

A modern Pieta

Pieta, Study (The Empire Never Ended) 2007. Waxwork, wooden chair, human hair, linen, hawthorn.

I see my Pieta sculpture as depicting a manifestation of the image of the crucified Christ on the electric chair, rather than Jesus in the aftermath of electrocution. It is interesting to note that the word electrocution comes from a combination of execution and electricity and was coined in the 19th century to describe this particular method of capital punishment.

Just as the cross was the preferred method of execution in the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, the electric chair was the prevalent method in 20th-century America. If the technology had existed then He would probably have been electrocuted. Had that been the case, millions of people around the world would now be wearing miniature gold and silver electric chairs on chains around their necks.

Freedom is an interesting concept. If we all had complete freedom then bad people could murder with impunity, as well as commit any number of other crimes without fear of punishment. Others might be able to mete out capital punishment and imprisonment wherever they saw fit. It would all be fairly direct. Perhaps in that future there will be a point where the self-proclaimed authorities may be able to convince murderers to kill only other murderers, thus making the concept of capital punishment redundant. Perhaps they could televise it. In front of a studio audience.

Some people think the richer or more powerful one is, the more freedom one has. I'm not so sure. Consciousness is a kind of prison of its own, and we are all bound by gravity, old age and death. Most freedom, I suspect, is in the mind. As Genet said, the trick is to learn to visualize our chains as garlands of roses.



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