On 15 September 1788, at a little after 11pm in the penal colony at Sydney Cove, from which, incidentally, Friendship had already departed on its last voyage, the blaze of a Full Moon in the eyes of watchful observers, indigenous and transported alike, extinguished the stars around it in the Circlet of Pisces. This exceedingly rare extinguishment, comprehensive in most skies, is, in a nutshell, the Monk’s identity.
Whether it is some form of cosmic enthronement or Assumption he seeks, or the lost domain of a compulsive limerence of mystical import, he is exercised year after year by the Divine Hand which moves the lunar nodes and his ecliptic latitude, and every few hundred years when syzygy, latitude and Circlet coincide (in a cluster of a half-dozen or so September Full Moons nineteen years apart), he represents the eternal question, who and where am I absolutely?
Are we not in awe of the Monk? His intention is clear: to transcend country, where life projects its absence, but lived example might still swing the vote on whether the world is spirit or matter. How do you see yourself? Are you an intersection of connections, or a hierarchy of systems? And what do you think of the Vertex? Is it out there, or in here, a cyclic projection of separateness, or a theoretical synthesis of hormonal fictions? Undeniably, since it turns the Zodiac upside down, the Vertex is the star of the show in the Tropics!
The Monk’s grace appears to transcend anxiety and comfort, of day and night and birth and death, and so the gratitude of locals for spirit is his trade. On the other hand, who these days encounters monks at all, for that matter? Is it possible that feckless relativism might erase them altogether along with the escarpments of Pisces? Certainly, one must ask the question, when the Monk next attains his goal in 212 years (though he will come tantalisingly close several times, e.g. 2032), will there be anyone left to map his ghostly presence, if not see it?
As a patron of this installation, you might wonder if light pollution makes it less successful as a stimulus to self-discovery, or in fact more so. The stars which coincidentally comprise the crown, or ruins, or abyss, or whatever the shadows on the wall resemble, occupy a range of classifications and distances, but how has data like this ever cultivated meaning? The artist’s intention is clear: to other us. Look through the Circlet at a Monk who is not there, and after two years of not sharing the finite time of your grandchildren, you are gazing into the soul of your emptiness, an underworld universe inhabited by nobody who knows you.
Of course if you cannot see anything, that might be the creator’s point. Are you sure that you, regular user of that commuter platform or aimless passerby of that noisy, garishly lit alleyway, are not part of the installation? While anti-vaxxers and other oppressed minorities wrestle for centre-stage, and fires visibly burning throughout the Galaxy hundreds and thousands of years ago share no warmth, the Circlet might as well be the root of blame for human languishing, and the Monk its quarantined bureaucrat. What a way to fortify socialism!