THE SHAPE OF A STORY
09 MARCH - 09 APRIL 2022
I cannot change my eyes. Culture is subjugation. I cannot change my gaze, because culture is subjugation. My gaze is glued to my eyes. And you know you cannot change your eyes. It is too difficult, so they will have to stay the same. Culture is subjugation. It feels like breathing scented air. Alien scents. A new scent. It might be good. I might come to like it. I might forget my own. Will I survive? I hate the static nature of electric light, but I am no longer leaving. I would like to talk to you about certain intimate things; I only see red bulls on the horizon. Madness has no cure. I was bundled at a ceremony with other Madonnas. Since then, being happy has not been necessary. Subjugation sneaks in. Maybe it is caused by that damn urgency of saying “us”. I felt the connection and ran. To another world. I guess there are two worlds. The real world and the end of the world. I will like to know the real one. What is a story. A tell or a play? Two flowers in a summer night. 30 skies and 50 fires. Free movement. What will be the shape of a story? Latitude.
The German philosopher Martin Buber believed that human beings only fully establish themselves in the world, an I, when they are connecting with another human being, a You. Only at the moment when we relate to another human being, the You, do we, the I, engage in our existence with the entirety of our potential. Without You, I can never fully experience life. Buber further believed that most of us are unaware that this potential even exists; we spent most of our lives observing rather than engaging with our fellow human beings. In our observation of others, we reduce them to a host of characteristics rather than a core being, the I-It relation, which in turn alienates us from the You. This alienation from the closeness of the I-You preserves the tension of life and is a necessary part of our process to move ever closer to ourselves and to each other.
In one of her 52 Sunday-letters Italian artist Tomaso Binga writes to a friend; Culture is subjugation. A statement written around the cold war, a time where the separation of culture, the split between “us and them” was on the edge. Although history can testify that subjugation has often been a concept exerted in the understanding of the idea of culture, the earliest notion of culture, cultura, contained neither the concept of subjugation nor a hierarchy of cultural results. It very clearly focussed on the process of cultivating life; on how we choose to grow, on how to guard and nurture the process of human evolution.
Different cultures will seek to guard and nuture their own specific understanding of the human experience and their own way of life, and this can alienate us from those who think differently. Yet, the preservation of culture can also serve as a common and uniting concept and a key to understanding and accepting others, is moving from observation to understanding. All cultures have different and differing rules of communication and expression that underpins it, and what will connect us as human beings is to experience what happens to us, when we focus on the interaction of those differences, moving from the I-It to the I-You.
The Chinese artist Nhozagri visualizes the context of her shape of a story in a series of paper-works. In a blue watercolour-work, a small creature calls for latitude. In another light pink work, three pyramids created out of mirrors shapes Nhozagri’s idea of a story. The first pyramid is empty, the second pyramid is flanked by two different creatures on each side, both studying their reflections in the mirrors. At the third pyramid the reflections have been swapped. The creatures look at each other’s reflections with surprise. There will only be room for one story at a time in Nhozagri’s shape. The shape of a story is losing your own reflection, to gain that of another. Only by immersing in the way of life of another can we enter a true state of being, the I-You. If we are not being, we are static. We are not in the process of life.
The exhibition The Shape of a Story shows a selection of works by contemporary artists telling stories from various corners of the world. Works by Artemio, Tomaso Binga, Ry David Bradley, Petra Cortright, Zane Lewis, Nhozagri, Garrett Pruter, Kristian Touborg, Andrea Villalón, Lizet Hee Olesen and Anne Strandfelt.
For a full list of works exhibited please contact firstname.lastname@example.org