Siren Song III, 2012.
John Stezaker’s artwork, made of layers both literal and metaphorical, speaks to us of the power of the human voice throughout time and our weakness to resist its call. In his 1959 essay The Song of the Sirens: Encountering the Imaginary, Maurice Blanchot might have been writing to accompany Stezaker’s work. He uses Ulysses’ encounter with the Sirens as an allegory for how we are drawn to things beyond our comprehension:
Illustrious Odysseus, flower of Archaean chivalry, bring your ship to rest so that you may hear our voices. No seaman has ever sailed his black ship past this spot without listening to the sweet tones that flow from our lips, and none who has listened has not been delighted and gone on a wiser man.
The human voice exploits our aural vulnerability - it is a weakness shared by all mankind since time began. In Stezaker’s work the Sirens have made Glyndebourne their contemporary island. Beware and be calmed by the Sirens’ song.
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