The word “rune” implies a secret wisdom or hidden knowledge. First inscriptions dating back from 200 CE, more than a millennia later symbolic equivalents can be found in modern day graffiti. Today these runes have the ability to enhance the profane into art.
Known for hinting towards answers and leaving the viewer to work out the details, my own work incorporates graffiti runes within traditional fine artwork to pose my own questions about society, artistic value, and how the juxtaposition of materials, iconography, and material use affect our concept of worth.
Both canvas and sculptural surfaces serve as medium for this series, including pure mink, gold leaf, Chanel tote bags, and fabric from Louis Vuitton luggage. The runic graffiti is exclusively painted in vibrant red, and various drips and artist marks emulate the authenticity brushstrokes lean to the value of traditional fine art.
Rather than what may typically be thought of as found objects, “Super Luxe” incorporates high valued materials and finished objects that are renown for value. Does this increase the value of each piece in the mind of appraisers? Or does using treasured goods in an alternative way deface the object, detracting from the societal concept of artistic value?
Canvas / Sculptural Surfaces
Pure Mink ~~ Gold Leaf ~~ Diamond Dust ~~ Rolls Royce
Louis Vuitton ~~ Alligator Skin ~~ Zebra ~~ Natural Wood
Ostrich Skin ~~ Cobalt Blue ~~ Chanel ~~ Dinosaur Fossil
The original meaning of the word rune is “secret wisdom, secret knowledge or something hidden.” Runes were the pre-literate system of writing amongst the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe. The first runic inscriptions are from around 200 AD. The preliminary alphabet had 24 letters, these characters are characterized as the Elder Futhark alphabet. Around 800 AD the alphabet was shortened to 16 letters known as Younger Futhark or the “Scandinavian Runes.” As Christianity spread throughout Scandinavia, the language and symbolism of these characters were lost expect for examples of Latinized runic texts in the Middle Ages. They were used in connection with trade, inscribed on weapons to enhance their power, on jewelry to bring happiness and good fortune, on Viking ships to invoke the gods in blessing long sea voyages and on gravestones to ease the passage for the dead. Much like modern day graffiti, these runes had the ability to enhance the profane into the world of myth and spirituality. Examples of this are present on the artifacts left behind by these peoples. They have been found written on wood, bone, and the large standing Rune stones that still dot Northern Europe.
Runes were also used for magic and divination. Odin himself was regarded as “Father of the Runes,” as the runes in their entirety came to him whilst he hung from the great tree Yggdrasil. By the ancient Shamans and Seers they could be used to predict the future, heal others, counteract harmful forces, and could be used in curses and magic spells. It is also widely believed that runes can also be dangerous in the wrong hands. Counters with carved runic symbols fashioned in the wood of a fruit bearing tree or bone were thrown, in a process called Runemal. The oracle could interpret and read the rune counters based on how they had landed. Casting the Runes were used to obtain answers from the oracle and in predicting the future. Although the language is for the most part lost, we currently read runes much the same way. Today runes are made of different materials; including wood, stone, crystals, shell, bone, or even metal. Runes are known for hinting towards answers, but leaving you to work out the details, which is where intuition is helpful. The Vikings especially believed in the interconnectedness of all things, referring to this as the “wyrd.” The runes allow us to engage with the wyrd. Although much about the runes has been lost, this feeling has endured still.