In this exercise in allegory, Cole Lu weaves together narratives of historical truths, half-truths, and propaganda, presenting a snippet in the artist's ongoing research-based exploration into the fictional cosmos of Geryon.
The character of Geryon can be traced back in literature to the 6th century BC in Ancient Greece. In his poem "Geryoneis," the lyric poet Stesichorus narrates from the three-bodied monster's perspective, thereby humanizing him. Centuries later, in her book Autobiography of Red, poet Anne Carson loosely reinterprets the tale. The bloody violence of Geryon's death at the hands of Herakles, as told in the Ancient Greek myth, converts itself into emotional agony in Carson's retelling.
In this iteration, Cole Lu interweaves the genesis of Geryon with a modern instance of media manipulation, the "Great Moon Hoax," a conspiratorial recording of life—and even civilization—on the moon. The re-mystification of these tales draws into question the history of colonization and the fabrication of racial hierarchy in the American past and present.
In the temple on the stone is where you lie; back then, you know, on the stone slabs; and next to me, they were lying there, the others, who were like me, ripped wings and sore eyes; we lay there and slept, slept and did not sleep, dreamt and did not dream. (Before the boat arrived, first was that of Saturn, then that of the Sun, and then that of the Moon. Descendants of emigrants, you do not grow up in America. You and your children and their children with clunky names. You do not live in America. No such place exists.)
11 x 20 x 1" (27.94 x 50.8 x 2.54 cm)
On the lunar surface there was a temple; they called it the Temple of Sleep. Geryon traveled 238,900 miles to get there, only he couldn’t remember how; behind him the crater lake filled with water, streaming from one mound to another.
The boat that carried forty-one members of an eighty-nine-man colonization mission arrived at the edge of the crater. Geryon remembered seeing the green lion back at mother’s house eat a sun during the full moon once. He grabbed the fourth sun that he had ever seen in his life and set the boat on fire.
The door on the ground was made from an element called titanium; it was named after Titan, they said. The Titan door was from the aviation device that carried the others in the temple. Now it is all covered by vegetation and fauna. No one in the temple can recall when they arrived, nor how long they have been here, but they remember Titan from a billion miles away.
The fourth sun also set the fire on the ground. From that moment on, Geryon has been drawing all the things he wants to remember with fire.
Cole Lu (b. Taipei) is an artist and writer based in New York.
His work is an active engagement of shifting and reframing the value and worth of what is subject to Others. Lu has read, exhibited, and lectured internationally. His publication Smells Like Content (Endless Editions, 2015) is in the artists’ book collection of the MoMA Library, New York.