opening: December 6, 2018 / 6 p.m.
duration: 7.12.2018 – 31.3.2019
East Slovak Gallery, Alžbetina 22
The exhibition “The Fire of Things” speaks about the changing relationship between human and geological (or astronomical) scale, about merging of subjective stories with large narratives of the Earth and time. It also speaks about photography and language as media that capture reality, their constraints and inaccuracies.
The exhibition consists of a selected body of works that follows a certain order – a line which has been forming on the background of my artistic practice during the past few years, when the photographic image became my material-of-choice to work with, to contemplate. In various ways, each of the represented works confronts us – on a human scale – with what it exceeds. Not only physically, but also mentally and intellectually.
The most recent work in the exhibition, the video “The Story of Erath” (from my ongoing series “Voice Without Language”), is a monologue for a woman’s voice set on the background of the Atlantic shore. The video text, based on my conversations with a Portuguese geologist, speaks about the passion for science/life, and about a subjective, almost animistic approach to time and the Earth – therein under a mythical name “Erath”. If the text would be conveyed into geological terminology, its narrative would remind us of the sediments of Earth. It is made up of layers of real and fi ctional stories, selected quotes from literature, fragments of overheard conversations or my own personal observations. In “The Story of Erath”, they all come together on the background of a ceaseless repetition(s).
The Fire of Things suggests the almost impossible. It speaks about being open to a specifi c cognition of the world, which is not bound to what is heard or seen. The Fire of Things is the emptiness surrounding the trees in “Maybe the last one I see”, it is the excitement and dizziness when experiencing the world in certain moments when the world appears to us as it could be, if it was freed of our sediments of “the learnt”.
The Fire of Things also explores what our human language gives us and takes away from us, language as a way of capturing our experiences. The video “The Story of Erath” speaks about the emotion of a voice, stripped off the words. However, by the voice/tone meant only that which enables our human language, but also the “mute” speech of things and natural phenomena that surround us. The Fire of Things is also about the impossibility to abandon our language through which our cognitive structure of the world was formed. And yet, it suggests certain passion for diff erent knowledge, a passion that enables us to fi nd ways to bypass those structures, if only in short glimpses.
The crucial moment seen upon entering the exhibition in “I am the size of what I see” can be experienced throughout the whole exhibition. Here, it is only the last letter “H”, which conveys the visual abstraction into expression of astonishment. Astonishment or speechlessness, which we (still) experience, when contemplating the night sky, a one-thousand-year-old tree, or the ocean.
The Brazilian author Clarice Lispector wrote in her novel “The Passion According to G.H.”: ”But to reach this muteness, what a great eff ort of voice!” Just like her literary work which became inspiration for the exhibition, The Fire of Things is on the verge of language.