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The artist is both a teacher and a witness”

It is hot today. Which means that I am hot, out of the hospital, taking a lukewarm beverage, ‘expecting some sorts of enlightenment – to see God at some point,’ as Eddie Saint-James put it in his gorgeous interview with the Libretto team for this issue: Temptation. This enlightenment is what I seek going through the works that make it into this beautiful anthology. What we have about this theme is a wide range of experiences that have influenced the artists into producing their different masterpieces. I am at once the writer Nwabuisi Kenneth mentions in his story, Bird Songs, bleeding inside, and acknowledging that ‘an empty space is also a place,’ that the artist as a person is intentional, every blank space is a gesture towards wonder or wreckage. It is Lauren Scharhag’s poem, Magic Eye, that agrees with Aristotle, that ‘poetry… is a more philosophical and higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular.’ As someone who’s diagnosed with astigmatism too, reading and existing in this poem brings me to the fact that everything is possible, and everything is not. One day we have the light, another day we don’t. We are all being tested. But how are we coping or surviving or giving in to temptations?

When you catch my eye, I take off my glasses. That way, there’s nothing between us. Sometimes, I like things to be not too distinct, like an impressionist painting. Light
and color and mood more important than detail.

The persona who has a refractive error goes through a day’s long of wishes, and as if tired of trying to get the lights coordinated gives in to the darkness, because ‘infinity can only be seen with the inner eye.’

When we made the open call soliciting works revolving round Temptation, we didn’t know where this would take us. But is that not the purpose of art? To bring the wretched of the earth together and grant them solace, to satisfy the inquisitive mind, and to leave the filled empty?

The artist is both a teacher and a witness. So when in My Mouth, a Disputed Territory, Lorelei Bacht warns us that ‘a red apple is not to be trusted,’ we understand immediately that the poem is an equivalent of ‘I did this so you don’t have to’ meme. The persona admitting that this is ‘a feat which I can only achieve by l keeping my mouth full’ is a testament.

It is Jan Stepa in his 1937 book, The Temptation of Modern Man, that identifies the three temptations the modern person is faced with: temptation of bread, temptation of vanity, and the temptation of greed – bread with reason, vanity with will, and greed with human emotions.

It’s that Time Again, Sweetheart, Ian’s piece of art declares: a sensual headless lady in a pink corset, black hose, poised with a sword, as if she is both warring and dancing at the same time. We are in a constant battle with ourselves and others, and whether it is both Valerie Anne Burns and Paul Lewellen writing about lust/desires, or Fabiana Elisa Martinez writing about vanity, the approaches employed in the interpretation of this theme leaves a reader breathless, and like the characters/figures in these pieces, one is always wanting more or at the verge of wonder. And as if this is not enough Carl Scharwath holds a mirror for us to see our Reflections and encounter ourselves as both mortals and divine beings obsessed with beauty and its antics. Who is real? Scharwath’s next piece asks – a mixed media of one containing multitudes, paying tribute to Lewellen’s Marian of Two Minds. In this pieces we encounter the constant struggle between the modern person and their othered self. It begs to know who the real “I” in a sentence is – between the person tweeting and the person tweeted, who is real? How do we satisfy the pleasures of the multitudes we carry in us? Cecilia Martinez’s Rotten Apples (mixed
media) doesn’t answer this question but rather gives a perspective on how to indulge our multitudes. Two women, one a nun, maybe, are naked under an apple tree, kneeling and are in rhythm with their sexuality. Perhaps the bunnies on the tree is the answer we seek, that one can be one thing and other without jeopardising the other. At the far left of the artwork, a human hand gestures the peace sign.

For Martinez, the flesh feeds the spiritual. Martin Dosek’sAmor, agrees. Temptation after all might not be something to run away from, one can indulge it and still stay in affinity with the othered selves or one could be consumed by the feral sword of Yohanes Soubirius De Santo’s Ego Hegemony.

Akpa Arinzechukwu
June 17th, 2021




I Believe Myself To Be A Storyteller With A Camera|A Conversation with Eddie Saint-Jean


Two Poems By Lauren Scharhag

Like a shade of Dawn by Anne Leigh Parrish

My mouth, a disputed territory by Lorelei Bacht

Having the Wherewithal by Pam Knapp

Bird Songs by Kenneth Nwabuisi

Realizations by Fabiana Elisa Martinez

Melody by Vanessa Osei Bonsu

Five Artworks by Cecilia Martinez

Four Artworks by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Two Artworks by Ian

Three Artworks by Yohanes Soubirius De Santo

Three Artworks by Mariaceleste Arena

Woman in the forest by Ira Joel Haber

Yearning by Jana Charl

Two Artworks by Martin Dosek

Four Photographs by Sadiq Mustapha

Six Photographs by Carl Scharwath

He’s on Top of the World and I’m Not by Valerie Anne

Marian of two minds by Paul Lewellan

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