The Reward For Your Slavery

One of the best things about making art for yourself is that you get to do a lot of research and let it take you where ever it leads. One of the worst things about making art for yourself is that the research is endless. You learn how much you will never know.

A watershed moment for me early on in the Counter-Anthem project came with this video. It’s not that many of the concepts are new (to me), but rather the phrasing and presentation of it that resonate. It inspired me to finally read Animal Farm, which was obviously omitted from my catholic school education, and then again in my art school education.

“To see the farm is to leave it,” is a stunning phrase. It was still fresh when I went to Delphi on a trip to Greece, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It remains one of the few places that looks and feels exactly as I imagined it would look.

One of the most interesting moments was on the tour of Delphi. There is a wall made without any sort of mortar, that is still standing.

There's no mortar!

There’s no mortar!

It’s a beautiful wall. It’s Tetris at it’s most satisfying. I remember the guide telling us the stone was brought up from the isle of Lesbos, which is impressive considering not only how far away from the coast from Delphi, but that it is on top of a mountain.

Then the guide pointed out there was very neat and small writing on the stones.

The writing is literally on the wall

The writing is literally on the wall

I assumed the writing was religious in nature, an homage to the gods, or some sort of braggadocio. The guide had been telling us of the often-downplayed role slavery and indentured servitude played at this place, so I was unsurprised to learn that the carvings were made by the servants, slaves, and prisoners who built and tended the temple. Her phrasing of the translation of this text will stay with me for the rest of my life:

“The reward for your slavery is that you can tell your story.”