Michael Bentley  - The Foundry MICHAEL BENTLEY

visual - audio - text

Ragnarok - a collage series

This was originally to have been a chapbook, a larger project incorporating digital collages and texts. These eight collages are all the survive of the visual work, and the following text is pulled from my notes. At this point it's hard for me to recall the details of the larger plan, but I still find these images to be interesting, as well as an example of my early work to move my collaging into the digital realm.



Ragnarok notes:

We start this story of Ragnarok with the collage Ouroboros Comes, though it is not part of the Ragnarok legend. It depicts the World Serpent girding the Earth (or Midgard), poised to take hold of his tail, in the moment before time began.

Ragnarok begins with the Death of Baldr. Baldr was the fairest of all the gods. One day Odin had a dream that Baldr was in imminent danger, and so he forced Frigg to extract an oath from all the things on Earth, living or inanimate, that they would not harm his son. After this the inhabitants of Asgard found it amusing to throw all manner of objects at Baldr, knowing he could not be hurt. This play annoyed Loki, and he, in disguise, found out that Frigg had not received an oath from one plant, the mistletoe, thinking it too young to be a threat. The spiteful Loki then took a sprig of mistletoe and persuaded the blind god Hoder to throw it at Baldr, guiding Hoder's hand so that it struck Baldr in the heel. Baldr died on the spot.

The Aesir grieved deeply at this death, especially Odin, who knew what must follow. Hermod, another of Odin's sons, was convinced to go to Hel, in the Kingdom of the Dead, and bring Baldr back to Asgard. After a perilous journey Hermod reached the Hall of the Dead and made his request of Hel. Hel agreed to release Baldr on the condition that everything in the world weep for him. Tears were shed by everything in the world, like frost melting when the sun returns, save for one gnarled giantess, who was actually Loki in disguise. This time even Loki could not stand up to the wrath of the other gods, and they caught the mischievous one and tied him to a rock with the entrails of one of Loki's own sons. The gods then set a snake to drip its venom on Loki's face until Ragnarok. Though Sigyn, Loki's wife caught as much of the poison as she could, when she left to empty the bowl the venom fell on Loki, and his struggles shook the earth.

Ragnarok, the time of the destruction of the gods, will be ushered in by many signs and portents; great wars will rage across the earth, brother will turn against brother, incest and murder will become commonplace. When the pursuing wolves, released at the creation to set the heavens in motion, catch first the sun and then the moon, a great cold will descend on the Earth.

The mountains will be shattered and every land will tremble, even the World Tree will sway with the chaos. All the fettered monsters will break loose and rage across the Three Worlds; the Serpent will emerge from the sea and Fenrir the Wolf will advance mouth agape. The seas will rise and the ship of dead men's nails, Naglfar, will be launched, crewed by giants with Loki as helmsman. Legions will march from Muspell, Heimdall will sound his horn and the Aesir will ride out. All forces are destined to meet on the plain for the last battle of the gods. Odin will meet his adversary, the Wolf; Thor will battle the Serpent; Freyr will fight Surt and Heimdall will engage Loki. Thor will kill the Serpent, but die of his wounds, as will Heimdall. Odin will be devoured by the Wolf, who is killed in turn by Odin's son. All the gods and monsters must die to cleanse the Worlds of their darkness.

Out of this carnage a new world will arise, lit by a brighter sun and moon, to be ruled over by Baldr the Fair and peopled by two who had hidden in the World Tree. Another cycle is begun, the circle of the Ouroboros.