Gallery from a new exhibition by Scott Listfield.
The correct response to uncertainty is mythmaking. It always was. Not punditry, allegory, or mandate, but mythmaking. The creation of stories. We are tuned to do so, right down to our bones.
The book, published in 1698, was found at a free antique valuation event in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, by books valuer Jim Spencer.
Inside, author Christiaan Huygens explores his fascination with the potential existence of extra-terrestrial beings.
Mr Spencer said its contents seemed “almost comical”.
The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth.
There are hauntings and enchantments possible in this theater that belong to worlds most adults have left behind. The American puppet artist Janie Geiser — whose shows often dwell on questions of vulnerable innocence and its powers of resistance — said to me that, for her, “the puppet is without history, existing in the moment”, so that “there is a kind of existential innocence in puppet theater. Its simplicity makes any falseness immediately apparent.” And then, also, “no one blames the puppet for its violence, and no one quite blames the puppeteer. You can’t blame a piece of wood.” As these words may suggest, such innocence is itself not necessarily comforting. The innocence of Carlo Collodi’s hungry Pinocchio, that of the happily murderous Mister Punch, or the innocence of Don Quixote destroying the puppet show — these have a kind of menace as well as wonder, something not so easy to banish.
Listfield’s work all features an astronaut, regardless of setting. Mythologising his life and his dreams. There’s menace as well as wonder, as his astronaut explores the alien world we sometimes live on. Mythical places arranged as theatre just for us to look upon.