Jane Mulfinger · The Drunkard Forwarned and the Swearer Caution’d II · 2004
Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis, Los Angeles
version I - London

a site-specific artwork that poses the oppositions of innocence and sin in the form of a fallen cloud

Polyester, vinyl, compressed air, video projection, text, steel and electronics are the materials used for this work. Located directly under a skylight, the 20x15’ “bouncy castle for adults” pulsates in silver lame on a timer. The cloud’s soft and slippery exterior makes its impossible to walk a straight line. All those who mount it, must sit. A minimal video projection of clouds passing overhead projects onto the wall, containing split-second glimpses of roses; Red Planet, Blue Moon, and Evening Star, all recent hybrids. The skylight possesses an unforeseen architectural design flaw, which encourages the audience to recline on the cloud and study the vinyl text. (The glass floor for the building’s second floor is the skylight for the gallery space, which means that occupants of the gallery can surreptitiously view individuals above, in ways that compromise privacy). The title of the work, “The Drunkard Forwarned and the Swearer Caution’d” is the title of a letter written in the 1600s from one city official to another in northern Europe, describing the miraculous survival of a town drunkard after experiencing spontaneous combustion in his kitchen. The artist finds humor in this heavily laden religious interpretation of the event and wishes to translate this humor into the gaudy material of the cloud. Within the light well of the skylight, steel cable joins corresponding ancient virtues and vices, Giotto’s version in the Padua Chapel. This language, albeit distant in time, continues to form the morals that guide western culture today.