What does it mean to look for something? It can be an act of care for what is being searched for; but also, often for the one who is looking. In acknowledging and questioning our needs in relation to our environment we care for ourselves and each other. The exhibition, Dark Hope Respite, responds to the openness of uncertainty through an embodiment of space, focusing on ‘acts of exposure’. The curators, Julianne Csapo and maeshelle west-davies reflect on these actions, sculpting a space for the artists to be supported in the expansion of their practices. The curators observe how ‘…exposures are moments of radical openness, of uncertainty and vulnerability, and as such, we argue, a crucial starting point for deciphering social relatedness.’ (Christine Hentschel Susanne Krassman)
Vulnerability Forming Resilience
Nadya Sayapina’s work employs the object of a suitcase to discuss forced migration. Her work examines this state of temporality and loss. Nadya’s art emphasizes the anguish of having to attempt to pack up your whole life in a single suitcase, of not having control. In this way, the suitcase is no longer an object of pleasant memories, travel, and excitement but of sudden instability. We have seen so much collective, as well as individual struggle and resilience in our communities and spaces recently. In being a part of this dialogue of shared vulnerability, community becomes more necessary, and these intimate connections are a driving force toward hope.
… Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise …
Extract from Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
There is something captivating about the experience of an artist presenting their vulnerability through their work. This is the experience of stepping into the work of Olga Engibarova. Black chalk painted walls absorb the room where her work lives. One wall is layered with excerpts from her diary. While on the other, visual constructions of her experience going through and getting out of a relationship with someone with a narcissistic personality. There are vivid threads between many of the artist’s works, they express sincere perspective and form expressions of resilience.
In art there are always translations, this feels especially present in the exhibition Dark Hope Respite. Artists from varied social and cultural positions come together to reach a point of connection. In Linda Marwan‘s installations of artwork she creates a space for others. This is to say, the artist focuses on the nonhuman existence and their place of belonging outside of values formed by the utilitarian worldview of the Anthropos. She questions these systems of valuation playing with ideas of the other. The other, being any lifeform outside of the white cis male position that has established these systems of inequity. Her sculptures and banners that reference AI technology and its power in this conversation are both beautiful and provoking.
Across from Linda’s larger installation stands Sergey Karev‘s large scale sculpture. Exploring space and its transformations this sculpture evokes a physical relation to the visitor as you can step into and under this work. The dark form is animalistic and sketched out using pipes. Moreover, the piece is an expression of two deer that have been in a fight with one another, now trapped by each other’s antlers. In this way, this deadly embrace comments on the present, destructive, human social and political interactions.
photos by Kat Lafferty, Julianne Csapo and maeshelle west-davies
Similiarly, Kseniia Antipina’s installation plays on perceptions of power and character. Creating costumes to physically expose inner emotions in a visual materialisation. Her work is playful in its directness. This is seen in one of her creatures presented to us through a large photograph. The image is of a figure of power, a king perhaps. This king at first seems regal, however on further looking we see that their crown is actually an arrangement of toilet paper rolls and that the figure is set in a bathroom for their portrait. Kseniia’s perspective for detail and manipulation of materials creates ironic narratives through creatures that translate her viewpoint.
Material play and Intuition
‘… How can I see?
I could say that I don’t give a shit
But it’s not just one of those
It’s not only canvas and oil,
staples and wood panel
It’s hope and patience,
doubt and pain
Things I can’t say or talk about
Doors I can’t go through
Maybe not today
But who can say?’
Excerpt taken from Olivier Hébert‘s poem Not Today.
This poem is published along with Olivier’s other pieces on the stack of posters that he has created for visitors to freely take. Olivier’s textured black paintings grapple with a tension between presence and absence. The relationship between his poetry and the paintings on display sets out a dialogue of personal searching and discovery. His work is intuitive in how he makes, layering and removing paint on canvas. Thus, we can discover deeper context and feeling as the works speak to each other.
Similarly, in Carlos Molina‘s installation we are delving into intuitive making. His work creates a landscape of wooden buildings and ruins. Each piece is an architecture that has been transformed by the artist. Carlos uses what’s left rather than creating a completely new form. It can be seen that every element is important, seeking to reclaim wood and bring it a new life. He finds importance in each element, finding a way for it to coexist with other parts. His work explores Jacques Derrida ideas of deconstruction. These ideas deconstruct and make known disguised hierarchies in our systems.
photos by Kat Lafferty, Julianne Csapo and maeshelle west-davies
In Kateryna Bortsova‘s painting, time stands still. Two human bodies become stuck in a moment of movement and transformation. The artist reshapes perceptions of migration presenting visitors with a place of liminality and unknown progress in her painting. All while incorporating parts of a clock that surround the painted figures, keeping them in suspension. There is something beautiful about the motion that the figures have been left in while there is also something mournful about their state.
Losing and expanding
Particular attention is brought to ‘moments of exposure’ which the curators and artists have threaded throughout the exhibition. We are introduced to a live extension of this theme in the work of two performers. Eugene Buldyk’s work is mesmerising, this is apparent as the audience becomes enthralled by his music, following his intuition as he improvises in the moment of making. Eugene also produced music in the work of artist Nadya Sayapina, adding layers that enforce an atmosphere in her pieces.
Following Eugene, Kat Embo’s intoxicating live performance at the Dark Hope Respite vernissage transcends the boundaries of music and drag. Through Kat’s presence there is a shift in the space, creating an intimate and evocative playfulness that reshapes the tone of the exhibition. Their voice is carried throughout the landscape of the exhibition, reaching every visitor that is enamored to pause and join in the grand play.
Written by Kat Lafferty
Sat 18 June
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
ROUND 51 // April – June 2022
Linda Marwan (DE)
Aleksandra Szapańska (PL)
Kate Lafferty (IE)