A Grayish Illumination Full Of All Souls


I spent the last months – really since April – to show with From Berlin With Love that though a network of friends can not prevent a war, it is able to show the world what it can be. Friends all over the world accepted my dare and put the trash bags I designed for them into the streets of the places they call home or they will do so in the weeks to come. It’s based on the centennial of the begin of WWI, it’s (peaceful, arty) attacks in the vicinity of innocent bystanders, but they mean to show that common ground – the place where friendship starts and that makes it possible for us to easier accept our mutual differences – can be found anywhere, if you just look.
What wonder that when I was asked by some friends to create something special for them, I fell back on a friendship, you can witness on Twitter if you care. It reminds me of Schiller’s ballad The Hostage (Die Bürgschaft) in so far as it makes me want to scream like Dionys (though I am no tyrant to start with in the least):
“‘Tis mine your suppliant now to be,
Ah, let the band of love – be three!”
It is the friendship between Deborah Harkness and EL James.
Last year in early fall, between Marbon and Samhain (fall equinox and Halloween) I did a series that was based on Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy. She mentioned a medieval alchemical manuscript – Aurora Consurgens – with 38 illuminations depicting allegorical representations of alchemical elements and described 2 more that according to the story line were part of a hidden, earlier copy of the Aurora. I recreated or in the two cases created the 40 illuminations in an art deco style and each of these paintings bears the number of the place the original illumination has in the Aurora.

The Aurora starts “Everything good comes to me along with her. She is known as the wisdom of the South, who calls out in the streets, and to the multitudes.” And the two new illuminations (which Harkness added) are accompanied for him with: “Turn to me with all your heart. Do not refuse me because I am dark and shadowed. The fire of the sun has altered me. The seas have encompassed me. The earth has been corrupted because of my work. Night fell over the earth when I sank into the miry deep, and my substance was hidden.” And for her: “From the depths of the water I cried out to you, and from the depth of the earth I will call to those who pass by me. Watch for me. See me. And if you find another who is like me, I will give him the morning star.” These lines aren’t just fitting for Matthew and Diana, they could also describe Christian and Ana.

Given the friendship between Harkness and James, the similarities hidden deep in their stories and that I already played with numbers in the Aurora C40 series I decided to create a number 50 illumination. It depicts the conceptio stage of alchemy both with a human couple and with orboros/ fire drake entwined in an inseparable knot, from their bleeding wounds drips blood that brings new life. It’s a traditional way of depicting it though usually the one or the other couple. I liked the naked couple for the sex theme. The snake brings in the idea of temptation and the forbidden fruit. Sun and moon stand for the opposites that unite. The wounds are representative for equally their past wounds that need healing and the BDSM element. The room of pain is blood red too and reminds Ana of a womb upon first entering – conceptio. Of course, I also chose this specific alchemical design as well because it relates back to the All Souls Trilogy, but my words to that could be spoilers. I don’t do spoilers. And who already read Book of Life will recognize it anyway.

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