In this design for the St Paul's shop, the artist proposed using the
Life Reaches Out to Life
in Arabic on one side, English on the other.
The artist’s intended meaning is relatively straightforward - life itself transcends cultural and linguistic
differences. It is, above all, attracted to itself and its own aliveness.
'Life reaches out to life’ is a line of dialogue from the science fiction film
Mission to Mars
directed by Brian De Palma from an original screenplay by Jim Thomas, John Thomas,
and Graham Yost (Touchstone Pictures, 10 March 2000).
The line is spoken in a home video by Maggie McConnell (played by Kim Delaney), the recently
deceased wife of astronaut Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise). In the home video, taken at a family party,
Maggie says, ‘The universe is not chaos, it’s connection. Life reaches out to life.’
The artist has often quoted from popular culture. Here, that strategy is used to imply that life is a unifying constant,
not just beyond race, faith or language, but even beyond worlds.
The Question Mark Inside was commissioned by Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral as the first large-scale
public artwork in the cathedral's history. It marked the 300th anniversary of the topping-out of Sir Christopher
Wren's architectural masterpiece in 2008.
The work posed the simple question, 'What makes your life meaningful and purposeful?' and invited responses from clergy, scientists, artists,
atheists and the public during the anniversary year.
The resulting texts, from the domestic to the sexual to the sublime, were projected onto the exterior of the cathedral dome, the West Front at Ludgate Hill, and the interior of the Whispering Gallery.