Maurice Spira
His-story Lesson

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Maurice Spira, “His-story Lesson,” 1983, acrylic on paper

I conceived of “His-story Lesson” as being like a little lecture, demonstrating the development that can be observed as a central tendency, throughout all of human history. Our lecturer is holding his spray can, which is a symbol of hostile technology: it could be destroying the ozone layer or it could be for graffiti, or it could be poison, some toxic substance, it could be mace, whatever comes in a can, it could be hairspray or some hideous perfume out of the drugstore. He’s wrapped in a map of the world to emphasize the essential underpinning of human development and progress on this planet which has always been conquest and domination...in effect colonialism, colonial expansion. Up on the wall to the right you have the factory system, you have the pyramids which represent the ancient bureaucratic state, you have some other little motifs which have to do with the pillars of society—the judiciary, the church and so on. To the left of the lecturer is Roman time, symbolized by a clock with no hands, and below it is our lethal contemporary obsession with cybernetic time and the so-called information revolution which is nothing but an insane and obnoxious plot to fill up all us empty vessels—apparently we’re all empty vessels to be filled up with all this worthless bullshit that technocratic civilization deems purposeful, which I reject out of hand.

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