The Book of Goliath
Performances September 22, 26, 28 and 29
For tickets please visit:
In “The Book of Goliath,” artist Akina Cox focuses on a myth thousands of years old, still recounted each weekend to millions of children all around the world. The story is this: two tribes, both recent arrivals to the area, engaged in a land dispute over a tree lined valley. To settle the matter and avoid bloodshed, a warrior offered to fight a duel. Whoever won would claim the valley for their tribe. The duel was fought, the warrior died, and his tribe vacated the area. The man who fought him later became king of his tribe, and his progeny included many historical figures revered today, including Jesus Christ. Written down around 600 BC, the myth of David and Goliath became part of a collection of stories that formed the basis of the Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Baha’i.
As a child steeped in that religious tradition, Cox frequently sang songs about David and Goliath at Sunday School, and reenacted the battle with her friends. In reexamining the story, Cox undermines the binaries at the heart of the tale, the lessons that she consumed along with the entertaining story. Traditionally, Goliath is portrayed as an evil monster, and his defeat by David is seen as proof of good triumphing over evil. In illustrations, Goliath barely appears to be human- hairy and dark, he towers over David, baring his teeth like fangs. David is always pale and beautiful, a boy ready to vanquish his foe.
Over the years, scientists have studied the myth further, positing that Goliath possibly suffered from a hereditary issue with his pituitary gland, which probably also affected his eyesight. Authors such as Malcom Gladwell have pointed to this evidence with glee, proof that all monsters have an Achilles heel that when attacked will deflate them. To this day, secular self help gurus frequently suggest that we mercilessly slay our Goliath- whether that be our bosses, a problem at work, or our own bodies.
In “The Book of Goliath,” Cox questions this legacy, both on herself and prevailing culture. By restaging the story, Cox takes the very elements that introduced the story to children and uses them to retell the same story in a way that maintains the humanity of both David and Goliath. The “Book of Goliath” will take place over the course of a week. It is a live shadow puppet play, with home made sound effects, and some audience participation. Some effects will be uncomfortable for animals and babies. All others welcome. Tickets cost $6 and are available at Eventbrite.com.
There will be an opening reception after the 7:00 performance at Elephant on Sunday, 9/22.
Akina Cox moved to Los Angeles in 2003 after being raised in the Unification Church. She graduated from CalArts with an MFA in 2012. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Commonwealth and Council, Monte Vista Projects, and LACE. Her artist books can be purchased at Otherwild and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Dia:Beacon and Printed Matter in New York.