Sarah Martin: Sacrifice and The Scapegoat

Sarah Martin is a bold up and coming artist, Sarah’s first solo exhibition is set to launch at the Alex Eagle shop in Soho during Frieze Week. Sarah enjoyed an amazing response to her last collection of works based on the idea of mirror neurons and phycology. selling to a worldwide audience of collectors, with very few works from this series still available.

Sarah’s New collection focuses on the human condition particularly in relation to the Male suicide phenomenon. These issues are very close to Sarah’s heart and they are something she will continue to explore in great depth in future works. Recently new voices have emerged in relation to these issues, people like Jordan Peterson spring to mind and the often-misrepresented members of men’s rights movements. While these issues have become taboo and complex to understand or in some cases difficult talk about. Martin wants to pull the veil back on male issues and help society understand that men need to talk just as much as women and the suicide figures reflect this fact. Rather than thinking in terms of our individual groups, we need to bring all ideas to the table and listen, no person’s issues are more of less important than another’s when it comes to mental health.

Show concept

Most depictions of Christ show him nailed to the cross. For over 2000 years, Jesus has been largely celebrated for one moment in time – his death and sacrifice. But what else do we remember and know about him? What was his personality? How did he feel day-to-day? While he was enlightened, we don’t know his innermost feelings about his impending death – was it peace, fear, uncertainty, loneliness, or something else? For over two millennia, huge swathes of the world’s population have venerated someone they barely know anything about. Throughout our history, and especially in times of crisis, there has been a need for a scapegoat – a person designated to take the blame. Tyndale describes the scapegoat as an animal ‘sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, symbolic bearer of the sins of the people’. Do we still need someone to carry the burdens of the world, especially as so many people seek to separate from it?

Separation from self-happiness, inner child, personal dreams, reality and life are the key symptoms of our current Freudian-type society. We operate from a fragile ego, and with no thought at all, create our self-image inside the image drawn up by society. Before we know it, we arrive at the crossroads of depression. We revere sacrifices that men make – if a man dies at war, he is honourable. But the men who survive the battlefield, ‘the lucky ones’, have made sacrifices too. They often give up their mental and physical health and they most certainly give up their innocence. But this is expected – we tell boys that they cannot cry, that it’s forbidden. These men have sacrificed to atone for the sins in our society: the problems created by those in power. But after WWII, with lands conquered, society divvied up the spoils. The Baby Boomers arrived, with a ruthless approach to power, pride and status. Again, men were pressured to sacrifice – they must give everything of themselves to ‘attain’. The young boy suppressed his childhood dream in order to live out a role of bondage. Men had only one real choice: to fulfil the role or go after momentary pleasures. We’ve had two thousand years of sacrifice and happiness, but enlightenment is still nowhere in sight. And yet we still idealise the person who surrenders everything for others. Will we place this expectation on our children, even as the world grapples with problems so severe its very existence is in doubt? Is it only when we know that sacrifice can’t save that we, and particularly our men, will be able to cry?

In 2016, three quarters of suicides in the UK were men. Men between the ages of 20 and 49 are more likely to die from suicide than cancer, road accidents and heart disease. The latest UK statistic says 18 men per week take their own lives. Would it be ridiculous to consider whether expectations placed on men have led to the high levels of unhappiness we see in so many of them? We as a society find ourselves in crisis, and rather than repeating the pattern of casting out the goat to carry the sins away from the society, perhaps it’s time to see what society creates once all members assume equal responsibility for its problems.

Sarah Martin: Sacrifice and The Scapegoat Alex Eagle Soho 2nd – 7th October quiteuseless.uk

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper'