The errand of the hand started millions of years ago. The hand has been an indispensible means of our turning human. It was the opposable thumb that made us able to climb down from the tree, while our distant (?) primate relatives are still hanging – fourfingered – from the branches. Some of them still raise their paws to the life-giving Sun at dawn, like Sun adorers. They capture the beams of the Great Fireball and bathe their faces in them. Now we are capable of radiation, not just adoption. We heal with laying on hands, our caresses are miraculous, the language of affection. We use our hands to communicate, to carpenter our world, create, write, design, and some of us can read with their fingertips. As little kids, we get to know the world by spanning and groping around. Hands, fingers are our most ancient measuring and counting tool, our basic creation accomplisher in the world. We achieve everything we think of with the help of our hands. Nevertheless, in this stroll through life, we still wish to scan this haptic world with our retina. We have neglected our handvision, and feel sorry for the visually impaired, although they have ten epidermal eyes. No fingers know light and shadow, but they still tell the tale of a world beyond colour, a real world of here and now, and not one made up of illusory rainbows.
There’s hardly anything more special on earth than a hand. Only man has one! Bonehills fold under a magnifying glass, ditches and furrows striate this landscape beyond land, violet veins vibrate, and thorns burst out rampant from the rough ground. Tricky, legendary labyrinths twist around our fingertips. Just as the eyes are the mirror of the soul, our hand is the mirror of our personality, the relief of our palms, the hill and valleys conceal the cryptograms of our fate. If we shake hands with someone, we join together our life lines and the lines of our fates cross each other. The palm held up is a guarantee for peaceful intentions.
A miraculous creature, a peculiar tentacle is our hand indeed! In Michelangelo’s words too, it is by hands that God brings to life Adam, the primordial image of our humanity. The hand’s apologia is inexhaustible. (It now writes its own laudatory words as well.)
Nona Inescu invites us for a charmed chirodyssey, an errand of the hand, the continuation of our turning into a hand-mediated creative being through the coded sparkles of her own “waking-to-hand”. Meet this magic chirology!
She puts on a fig-leaf-glove, which may come from Buddha’s tree of enlightenment or the Garden of Eden, and with which Adam tried to cover up our original sin, our false self-identity, the promiscuity of our stripped corporeality. She hints to the unique print of our outstretched fingers through the metonymy of philodendron stencils. The radiating plant-paws transubstantiate into hands. She turns the human and vegetative world penetrable by shape-synonyms. She outlines the “fingers” of the anthropomorphic plans without any real drawing, the prints and hole-like images camouflage in leaves. We see the sketched pattern plates of the hollow-play of a chirologized plant. Just as every person’s fingerprint in unique, the veins, shapes, worm-eaten holes of every single leaf are also unique. Nona’s touch also individualizes every philodendron-fingerprint.
At the same time, her work is a primordial need for osmosis, an atavistic merge and search for identity with the flora of Eden. After the handling of naturalia, she brings the lifeless stones too under her chiro-spell. She impersonates tiny pebbles by laying her hands on them. She rehumanizes them, endows them with “personality”. She performs fingertip-transmutation. She may just leave her subtle fingerprints on them and she instantly conveys a magic identity to the lapidary metamorphosis of her ten fingertips. The human touch renders something of the human spirit to the pebble, impersonates it, absorbs its soul, becomes organic and gets elevated to a higher rank of existence. In the short run this stone is a new acquisition of the man-reigned world, it transforms into an “I-pebble”, but the inorganic silicon-conglomerate preserves the memory of our existence for millions of years after our decay. These are small mundane eggs, ova mundi, meaning not only the rebirth of the individual and the human spirit, but also the new hatching of life itself on Earth.
Nona also wishes to lay hands on the unreachable and untouchable meteor of the future, so she reaches out for it with the projection, the shadow of her hand. The inexorable gravity and material solidity can be defeated by the hands of a creative, shaping shadow-force. A latent telekinetic desire? Behind a mystery-curtain foreshadowing invisible powers of creation, the hand of a cherub, like in medieval miniatures, launches a fireball into the world with a determined, ritual gesture. This Bowling Ball of the Universe is the primaeval atom of the beginning of Creation and the abyssal bullet of Judgment Day that demolishes our bowling pin-like existence. Is this an allegory of the primordial corpuscule venerated by physicians and treated with sublime thrills and the life-eating black hole, the embodied universal heart of the Alpha and Omega? All this is performed by a fetishized, alienated, sable gloved hand behind the curtain of secrets, which creates and destroys at the same time. The same is true for the handy concrete bowling balls, concealing a 3D beginning of a glove-negative. They entice us – let us grab them and use their destructive powers, because they are meant for treading down anthropomorphic bowling balls, overthrowing our condemned alter egos, our false incarnations.
She recommends nonetheless a meeker method. It is widely known that plants have sap-carrying veins, animals have a blood vessel system, but only humans have existential veins carried in their palms, on the paths of their hand yard. Nona also recommends a chiromantic glove used in a mysterious ritual. It is a human map scribbled onto a pseudo-skin. A metonymy of artificial fate-moulting. A handy, manageable, tangible change of fate at hand. Putting on this chiromagical glove, we may take on a corrected, perfect, standardized line of the head, the heart, of life and fate, hoping that our hidden, time-eaten wrinkles of being would cling to it.
Nona is a pantheistic chiro-magician. She invokes the hand-auras of 30.000 years old shamans. The signatures of the first cave paintings, timeless paleo-selfies, magic presences palmed in the future. She signals the creative, magnetic power of her hand similarly to graffiti, with a halogen-white halo around it. If I use my hand – I am here (present). And she does all this without using any handicraft, which has always been her handicap.
We have taught many things to this shy, devoted, meek being, among them also foul, despicable things. The day may come when the hand awakes to consciousness and refuses to obey certain orders. It will not pick others’ pockets, pull triggers, write below and above, or hit cold buttons...
Nona, handle it with no fear until then! And if your hand is asked for, hand it over with love!
Text by Géza Dabóczi, translated from Hungarian by Emese Czintos.
Contribution by Domenico de Chirico.
Nona Inescu - Hands don't make magic
Sabot, October 9 - November 15