What makes someone evil? Is it their cunning actions, the terror they inflict, or their pride in challenging the status quo? While the essence of evil has morphed with societies, centuries of flat and shadowlike images in the Western Canon have given evil an aesthetic focused on weapons, horns, hooved feet, and menacing spikes. The Devil personifies evil and epitomizes this aesthetic; his name Lucifer translates to ‘dawn-bringer’ in Latin, referencing the planet Venus’s appearance in the East just before sunrise and the Devil’s position among Angels as the brightest before his fall from grace. In Morningstar, I reference flattened skies of metal and components of maces, horns, and fallen stars to cast shadows of doubt on whether evil is innate or assigned. When shrunk to the scale of a toy, is evil exposed as essence or exteriority?
This question logically follows my previous body of work, it’s (not) all fun and games. In both bodies of work, I examine a normative identity imposed on me, where my villainy was rooted in sexuality. In it’s (not) all fun and games, I examined the tension between queer sexuality as an essence and as an evil assignment by others. Colorful explosions and uncomfortable grimaces plagued that body of work like a saccharin reminder to smile because it was ‘all going to be ok.’ In these pieces, identity was a confrontation to be won.
In contrast, Morningstar empathizes with that monster. What is Villainy anyway, and who gets to decide?
“There are no heroes, and there are no villains. There are just opposing points of view. That’s all history is…the viciously long battle between world views.” – Peter J. Tomasi
Morningstar explores who is liable for the falling (or is it felling?) of an angel. Stories are filled with the opposing forces of Good and Evil. Are we being told only one side of the story? From this devil’s perspective, is everyone else the villain?
The pieces in Morningstar could be mistaken for toys. Their horns and protruding spikes cast shadows across the flat enameled planes that hint at the work’s dark undercurrent. I play with malevolent symbols and cartoonish depictions of evil at the scale of a toy and sandwich flat enameled planes between them, providing an altered evil aesthetic that raises the question of whether evil’s valence is inherent or assigned.
Aaron Decker, 2023