"We are all
bound together," observes the sculptor Dr. Gindi, "by
the human question of origin and destiny." Accordingly,
this talented German-Egyptian artist offers us work that is
technically impressive and philosophically informed. Of signal
importance in this welcome fusion is the primacy of an idea
that centers on what is most unendingly important to us as
This is the eternally
captivating idea of power over death, or immortality.
Over the past
fifty years, as a political scientist and professor of international
law, I have come to at least one widely under-appreciated
conclusion. This is that nothing is generally more important
to individual human beings than not dying; that is,
than living forever. Interestingly, it is plausible
that this critical human objective is sometimes better revealed
through art than through scholarship. Or to state this more
accurately, it is an objective best revealed through art that
can itself embody such learning.
It is with precisely
such an orientation that I have been able to draw both aesthetic
pleasure and intellectual insight from the work of
Dr. Gindi. In "Transfigured Immortality" (bronze,
2020), a "Lady of Grace," increasingly aware of
her worldly transience, is still able to muse about leaving
a "trace," about achieving an immortality of
the spirit if not a literal immortality of the flesh.
Whatever a particular observer's actual mindset about any
biological or physical human continuance, there is little
to contest about humans achieving a sort of surrogate immortality,
the kind of "living on" that may come with a single
individual's personal fame and accomplishments.
Though it goes
without saying that any such "secondary" immortality
must prove less enduringly satisfying, it also remains our
best realistic alternative.
her 2020 bronze statue "Interstellar Dilemma," the
artist Dr. Gindi seems to probe various overlapping and/or
intersecting ideas, inquiring, inter alia, if there
is possibility of "an Earth without the divine."
At the most utterly evident or superficial levels, the answer
is plain. After all, what can we conceivably conclude about
humankind's perpetual search for religion, a search always
dedicated in the final analysis to acquiring power over
death. In the artist's own description of this intriguing
bronze, "A foot and a hand are moving together, apart.
Seemingly rooted in the here and now, we strive for distant
Toward what sorts
of "elevation" is the observer being directed by
Dr. Gindi? There can be no more important question raised
by an artist, and it is a question that can never have a "correct"
or "incorrect" answer. Here, Dr. Gindi uses her
art not as an "objective" instrument of scientific
assessment, but as a distinctly probing medium of metaphysics.
By definition, of course, art can have no higher function
than allowing its practitioners and its observers to query
what is most "ultimately real."
A third work
of this creative and philosophic artist that captured my imagination
is her "Immanent Conception of Infinity." Exploring
the "fabric of time and space," this fired clay
sculpture (2017/2020) asks the following core question: "Can
everything that exists have neither beginning nor end?"
Significantly, whether in art or scholarship, this is a question
not often encountered. Yet, it presents an intellectual and
aesthetic challenge like no other, one so overwhelmingly primary
and primal that it should be ignored by absolutely no one.
Much of Dr. Gindi's
work seems to coalesce around the most urgent and fundamental
themes of human existence, especially transience, immortality
and infinity. To be sure, these are not easily
graspable or simple themes, but it is precisely from their
bewildering complexities and intersections that the art observer
can draw both pleasure and understanding. Dr. Gindi is a visionary
artist, and visionaries are what we need most of all. In this
regard, we may usefully recall the astutely relevant comment
of Italian film director Federico Fellini, "The visionary
is the only realist."