You cannot see them, but you believe them to be there. Sewn into the lining of this greatcoat are hundreds of coins. They give it both physical and metaphorical weight.
But were it not art, the monetary value would still not amount to much. Gallery notes reveal the coinage to be nickels and dimes. Not even pounds. Not even dollars.
This is exactly the sort of small change you would pick up on a battlefield, or at least that is the take out from Hendricks’ sculpture. His warlord is a cheap customer.
But the sculpture has presence. It looms over the visitor from a gibbet placed high on the gallery wall, its darkness an implacable reminder of endless US-sponsored wars.
You cannot see the money with which this absent (dead?) warlord has lined his coat. As with much of the work by this German artist, you need to exercise faith.
Or should that be cynicism? People profit from wars every day in manners we cannot see. You might well find yourself on a bus or train with a warlord like this.
However, the sculpture competes for credibility with counted grains of sand, diamonds made from dead birds, and drawings done by the artist’s very eyeballs.
So as you can see, the current show in Southampton collects some pretty wild projects together. It stretches credibility in a way that, perhaps, art always should.
Earlier talents in earlier times might ask you to believe in a resurrection, an annunciation, or an assumption. All Hendricks insists upon is a lining of dirty coins.
But Warlord is no less powerful for all that. As a reminder of the shabby opportunism of our ongoing campaigns around the world, few other works come close.
So just what is this warlord’s jurisdiction? By the looks of it, he reigns over you and me and to do so costs him very little indeed. He may even get arts funding. The horror, the horror.
Warlord can be seen in Jochem Hendricks at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, until 20 December 2012. See gallery website for more details.