Judgement is situated in the future. It’s part of the aftermath, the reflection on and evaluation of any act – a performance, a statement, a decision, a life – by which new directions or ‘fates’ are often decided. Judgement is nearly always a key component of religious afterlives, operating at the hinge between a life we know and the unknowable states that might come after. The list checked. The baggage examined. The heart weighed. The prospect of judgement hangs over heads. It’s something that can’t be seen in the moment, something anticipated through a trial or on a stage, something moved toward, pressing and shaping us from beyond.
The idea of this life as a performance on which we’ll be judged forever after echoes far beyond what we think of as religion. Fame, legacy, art, reputation – these are other afterlives, other counterpoints to oblivion, to total cancellation. To be visible is to be seen, but to be seen is to be judged on what’s visible. We may be judged by a ‘higher power’ with a birds’-eye-view. We will be judged by those who are like us, those as half-blind and impermanent as we are – our peers and our heirs, our allies and our enemies. We flicker between the positions of judged and judge, overlapping, like walking past a mirror.
This issue is in collaboration with Belfast Photo Festival and is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland.
Image by Piotr Zwarycz: https://www.obiektiv.com/
Abridged is supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.