DOMENICA DE FERRANTI: A HEAD OF ONE'S OWN: LONDON

21 November - 1 December 2017

Things being what they are, I feel that there is hardly any need to argue about the disadvantages inherent in not having a head. Having two, nevertheless, carries disadvantages of its own, as has been demonstrated by G. K. Chesterton in his work: The Disadvantage of Having Two Heads, a parable about nothing in particular in which the Giant with Two Heads, too busy arguing with itself, fails to see the hero approaching and is slain. “You are beneath my notice”, says one head to the other as they fall to the ground. “Son”, says the magician to the hero in the end of the story, “the Giant with One Head was stronger than the one with Two. When you grow up there will come to you other magicians who will say: 'Γνωθε δέαυτον'. Examine your soul, boy. Cultivate a sense of the differentiations possible in a simple psychology. Have nineteen religions suitable for different moods. My son, these will be wicked magicians; they will want to turn you into a
two-headed giant”. And the narrator concludes: “The hero did not understand the meaning of these words, and neither do I”.


But what I do gather from these pieces is that owning a good head is a wild
privilege, and that it is a different thing to be constrained by a body than to be imprisoned in it, and one does not imply the other. And it is different to be a combination of a certain set of genes than an oven for their endless reproduction, a Noah for the ark of your own animals, and one does not imply the other. And it is one thing to be the product of a shared culture, a national history or a family tree, and a whole different one to become the archbishop of your own desires, or the police patrol of your own borders, or be grandmother to yourself. And one does not imply the other. “The hairdo”, once said Julio Cortázar, “is a way of thinking outside the head”. Thankfully, we can also think inside, and remold all that we are, with our own hands, into the shape of what we want to be. 

 

It is tempting to think of Horus, or Sirin, or the Minotaur when we see these figures with animal heads performing what could be very old rituals. But then we see them standing nude by winter-smitten trees with convoluted trunks, or moving,
like the men with flames for heads, in groups of three like Hindu gods, and realise these characters are not trying to tell us anything. Rather, it’s us who are disturbing them, because the world implied answers to no shared historical narration, and claims to make no intellectual commentary on any system of belief, except for an intensely personal mythology, maintained through very private rituals that are barely open to us. In here, each being performs with its human body what it could not conceive without a human head. They go outside the head, that is, they move; they think outside the head, that is, they dance; they visit winter-smitten tress with convoluted trunks, that is, they live. And so they may be hybrids or monsters, but only in the sense that they refuse to be accomplished beings, consummate
pieces, minutely-polished bronze. They do not want a head that makes them indiscernible; they want a head that moves. They are the creatures that create.
Matías Godoy