For some time many of have shied away from whatever we thought of as soul. We didn’t talk about it, allude to it or even acknowledge it. Indeed for most of us it only existed when attached to music or food. If we thought we had one, a soul that is, we kept quiet about it…but suddenly it’s showing up and showing off. Take the new US President, Joe Biden, who let the entire world know he was putting the into America!
Over the last couple of months soul has been making itself felt across our screens and on posters on streets, bus stops etc. Disney/Pixar latest offering, brought out in time for Christmas, was believe it or not, called SOUL. While Tracey Emin’s amazing exhibition at the Royal Academy (not that many of us got to see it) was called The Loneliness of the Soul .
The exhibition which Emin shared with some of her favourite Edvard Munch paintings explore the same emotional landscape. Emin has chosen 19 works by Munch which focus on his complex relationship with the female sex, while her accompanying 25 works focus on grief, loss, ageing and longing. Always using her own emotions and experiences this was a particularly poignant exhibition as Emin had recently spoken about her cancer complications, but then she has always been fiercely honest about her own body and its limitations. She loved the idea that Munch believed that in his work he was dissecting souls, and talked about taking them apart including his own in his self portraits. While Emin feels that the job of an artist isn’t about making something beautiful, that, she says can be left to the designers. “Our job as an artist is to battle with the soul. Sometimes we lose, but that’s what it is about.”
With one raw and harrowing work – I Am the Last of my Kind she writes: “I am getting old now, but not as old as my broken, fucked-up vagina that is so connected to my soul.” And while the exhibition shows how this woman was violated in so many ways, it shows her as a victor and never a victim.
The Disney/Pixar approach to Soul takes a look at what happens Before Life when a bunch of souls are checking out which bodies they need/want on earth and of course there is one troublesome one, a truly picky job called 22 (Tina Fey in voice). Our wannabe serious jazz musician, Joe, who took a wrong step after a great audition and ended up here is chosen to persuade her to give earth a go! So we have two entities in search of a life as turned into blue blobs they chase around New York and life discovering not only what that is about…but more importantly along the way they find what they are about along with their own true souls. Not a dry eye in the house…and great music too.
For those who think they don’t have or need a soul, according to these examples if you hang around long enough you may well find yours