Review: Wrestling with Impermanence

One Greek myth tells the tale of the giant Antaeus, who had been granted a special power by his mother, the Earth. When anyone passed Antaeus’ land, he would challenge them to a wrestling match. If he began to lose strength, he had only to touch the earth and his  energy would be renewed. One day he was drawn into combat with the great hero Hercules. They fought and fought but Antaeus became no weaker. Finally Hercules discovering his vulnerability, grasped Antaeus, holding him high in the air, depriving him of his immortal gift, crushing him to death. Just as the Earth had once birthed Antaeus, she became the place in which he would finally decay.  

There is an intrinsic paradox evident at the heart of myth-making: the reality is forgotten so that the message can be remembered. The original story is always subsumed by the lessons that the teller wishes to convey. We learn the lessons of history but we forget history itself. Do we ever want reality or just a version of it that confirms our pre-held convictions? A myth is not a memory, and a memory is not the truth. Life is a series of events condemned to be mythologised or forgotten. Remember and re-imagine or forget and become extinct. 

‘Wrestling with Impermanence’ is an exhibition that marks the passing of time, records a present moment that will inevitably ascend into a memory, or perhaps a myth. The 14 artists of the 39th round of Pilotenkueche International Art Programme have spent the past three months engaging, exchanging and experimenting in the city. As the residency comes to an end the states of the permanent and fleeting are wrestled with.

The multifaceted notion of a cycle holds a strong voice amongst the artworks produced during the 39th round. Recycled materials are reverberant throughout the works, repurposing and reimagining  them to form new lives. Nature’s fruit acts as one of these recycled goods, whilst others use the sensations that the cycle of nature offers to draw inspiration. Time and history are also cycles reckoned with, some works only looking forward whilst others turn back. However, all artworks do hold one prominent commonality, their presence in the present. These works invite you to enter another cycle, one of remembering, or perhaps one of forgetting. 

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

Natural cycles dominate our existence; the harvest moon becomes the waning gibbous, the tide kisses the high water line morning and night, the hawthorn blossoms of early May become seed-laden berries poised to be pecked, digested and excreted: spread amongst the barren land, destined for germination when the warmth returns.

Like Antaeus, we ask the natural world for strength when we lose our power. We are living in a climate crisis. This is our reality and our future. The ice caps are melting, the great forests are being cut and burnt. Plastic is replacing sea life; monoculture is replacing diversity. The world is on its knees. This is our reality and not a myth. 

We must respond to the reality that surrounds us, and reflect the times that we live in. We must experience the present, in order to create the myths we may leave behind. We must embrace the natural cycle of impermanence, protect it and celebrate it.

So ask yourself. Mythologise, or forget? 

curatorial text by Clementine Butler-Gallie

Wrestling with Impermance

Vernissage Fri 21 June 7PM
Open Sat 22 June-Wed 26 June 1PM-5PM


International residents

Anabel Najera-Lopez (US)
Coffee Kang (CH/US
Cristina Prudente (IT/UK)
Daniel Long (KH)
projection mapping
Eliana Jacobs (CA)
Izdehar Afyouni (PL)
Jana Moser (AU)
Kate Jones (US)
Karine Fréchette (CA)
Louis Bouvier (CA)
Dominga Vergara (CL)
Marijn Roos Lindgreen (NL)
Sabrina Jolicoeur (CA)

Local Participants
Elisabeth Kraus (DE)
Jos Diegel (DE)

Clementine Butler-Galle (UK)

Adrian Klaus Rotzscher (US)
book binding and creation
Ellisha Walkden-Williams (UK)
art history
Kristina Nizamova (CZ)
cultural event managment