A History of Thunder
The Fine Art Society, Mayfair, London
29 February - 24 March, 2016
Michael Petry’s work Joshua D’s Wall was commissioned by the Palm Springs Art Museum in 2012, and sections of the wall have been shown in Venice, Houston, Santa Fe, Stavanger and Stockholm. It is based on the creation myth found in the Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish faiths, of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. In the story, Joshua blows the walls of the city down and then is instructed to kill all the citizens, children and animals, destroy the city brick by brick and salt the earth, which he does. This has created a textual document used to claim the right to cause the death of others at the word of a deity. In this case the same deity and the resultant trouble between these religions.
Petry’s work is made up from hundreds of unique glass stones made at the Berengo studios in Murano, Italy. Each stone is a unique artwork in itself (a treasure) and like Joshua’s instruction to destroy the city, Petry’s installation is slowly destroyed as each stone is sold, the whole becomes smaller. It is the only work Petry has made where the multiple parts can be broken up.
Joshua D’s Wall is placed directly on the floor, as if a glass wall has fallen over. On the surrounding walls will be works from the Fine Art Society’s collection of paintings, drawings, and prints from artists working in the period of the First and Second World War. These will be accompanied by photographs of soldiers in Petry’s collection of WWI memorabilia. The exhibition will connect his contemporary work (the performance and sculpture) with historical art dealing with similar subject matter.
The exhibition will coincide with the World Premiere performance of A Prussian Requiem (Powell: score, Petry: libretto) at the Royal Festival Hall. The Philharmonia Orchestra’s WWI Commemoration Concert on March 6 will feature the requiem. Composer John Powell and Petry have worked on performance, opera and installation art projects for over 25 years.
The Fine Art Society
The Fine Art Society, 2016