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‘Fountains of the Deep': Artwork Inspired by Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ [NSFW]

According to the Book of Genesis, there once lived a 600-year-young patriarch named Noah who saved the world’s animals — including humans — from a titanic flood on a boat handmade from gopher wood.
Interpreted by the 50 artists Darren Aronofsky solicited to contribute to an exhibit supplementing his film Noah, splinters of the biblical story debuted as Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood at the storefront 462 West Broadway gallery on March 6 to a crowd of common and legendary faces.

Aronofsky, who organized a similar show in 2011 adjacent to the release of Black Swan, was open about the parameters and requirements he gave participating artists, including graffiti duo Faile, graphic novel master Simon Bisley, pop-art painter Karen Kilimnik, and late album-art icon Howard Finster.

“The show is purely about Noah,” he tells Flavorwire. “It’s been a relevant story throughout history; that’s what makes it myth. I wanted the artists to take the original Biblical text and interpret it for themselves.”

In Fountains of the Deep’s opening statement, Aronofsky writes that individual analysis is the point of the show, since “the Noah story belongs to all of us — every religion, every culture, every citizen of planet Earth.” In the director’s version, Russell Crowe depicts Noah as he may have been: a middle-aged vegetarian and environmental doomsday prepper.

Spread across two stories in the form of painting, sculpture, and found-art installation, the show that could have been a publicity stunt for a film lobbied against by religious groups for not being “factually” correct was a representative array of what a flood incurred by godly wrath could do to or for humanity — some beautiful, some odd (overheard near one panel: “there’s a lot of animal sodomy in this piece”).

In David Scher’s Noah Noah, a gray man walks his gray cats on a drab beach threatened by an enormous wave or funnel of iron-colored trash, with a boat stuck atop the deluge. It could have been a scene from Superstorm Sandy (who knows what kind of cat-walking weirdos live by the shore), or an observation about humanity’s obliviousness to impending doom. Simon Bisley’s The Deluge is a Bosch-like scene of human bodies gleefully devoured by monstrous creatures.

It’s strange how the stories dearest to people of various cultures and generations are populated by tidal waves, improbable heroes, fantastic creatures, and terrible acts of violence by deities against a world they helped create.

“Noah is a huge metaphor for what’s going on in our backyards all over the world,” says Roderick Romero, who poses under a weeping willow with four nudes in a boat-like treehouse he built on the Lower East Side in a photograph taken by Spencer Tunick.

Although known for work featuring masses of naked bodies in natural or man-made setting, Tunick’s photo still depicting Noah and his wives is sensual and slightly campy.

“That’s in my neighborhood,” says Romero. “I know everyone there.”

There are plenty of hyper-masculine visions of Noah as a muscled demi-god, such as Jim Lee’s A Real Rain. For the literalists, Mike and Doug Starn, who worked on the boat used on-set in Noah, created Bbú Juju painting MV4, a bamboo-and-rope sculpture of what could have been a portion of a wrecked ark.

Some pieces are defined by the parts of the legend they omit. No water or people are present in Erik Parker’s submission, an explosive painting of a yellow-submarine-esque Rube Goldberg machine with sexual parts called The Mythmaker, which according to Parker was inspired by George Clinton, “the Noah of Funk.”

“I like the idea of Noah coming from a different planet, which is relevant in a fable like this, because it’s about destruction and rebuilding,” says the artist.

In Aya Uekara’s The 4 Wives, four ghostly female faces are arranged like delicate spokes around a wheel.

“The women on the arc were described as wives,” Uekara says. “That’s such a traditional way of understanding women’s place in a story.”

Legends offer a way to unite interpretations of a common story that are as varied as the people who grew up hearing them. To some, the legend of Noah is especially relevant because of looming environmental concerns; to others, it’s the fraught story of a creator punishing a world he or she loves. Fittingly, the works in Fountains of the Deep have no cohesive thread, featuring contemplations that are sometimes violent and angry, but also often bittersweet and humorous.

Fountains of the Deep opened to the public on March 7 at 462 West Broadway and runs through Saturday, March 29. Click through below for a selection of highlights from the show.

Spencer Tunick, "LES Noah, 2013, 37.5'' x 30 inches'', C-print. Courtesy of the artst

Spencer Tunick, “LES Noah, 2013, 37.5” x 30 inches”, C-print. Courtesy of the artst

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