Imprints

 

In “The Human Condition,” political theorist Hanna Arendt speaks about “vita contemplativa” (contemplative, passive life) as the condition of Western society. It is a condition that opposes “vita active,” or dynamic living, where the subject produces reality, instead of passively consuming its established narratives. This dynamism can be seen as one of the grey lines connecting works in this exhibition. One recent video and an object or drawing was selected from 5 of our represented artists to shape an accidental exhibition built on a series of coincidences and the bonds that grew out of them. Other lines appear in what can be seen and what cannot. Presence is given to the invisible ashes, traumas and concerns that shape each piece in the show.

«Maybe it’s not metaphysics. Maybe it’s existential. I’m talking about the individual US citizen’s deep fear, the same basic fear that you and I have and that everybody has except nobody ever talks about it except existentialists in convoluted French prose. Or Pascal. Our smallness, our insignificance and mortality, yours and mine, the thing that we all spend all our time not thinking about directly, that we are tiny and at the mercy of large forces and that time is always passing and that every day we’ve lost one more day that will never come back and our childhoods are over and our adolescence and the vigor of youth and soon our adulthood, that everything we see around us all the time is decaying and passing, it’s all passing away, and so are we, so am I, and given how fast the first forty-two years have shot by it’s not going to be long before I too pass away, whoever imagined that there was a more truthful way to put it than «die,» «pass away,» the very sound of it makes me feel the way I feel at dusk on a wintry Sunday–… And not only that, but everybody who knows me or even knows I exist will die, and then everybody who knows those people and might even conceivably have even heard of me will die, and so on, and the gravestones and monuments we spend money to have pour in to make sure we’re remembered, these’ll last what– a hundred years? two hundred?– and they’ll crumble, and the grass and insects my decomposition will go to feed will die, and their offspring, or if I’m cremated the trees that are nourished by my windblown ash will die or get cut down and decay, and my urn will decay, and that before maybe three of four generations it will be like I never existed, not only will I have passed away but it will be like I was never here, and people in 2104 or whatever will no more think of Stuart A. Nichols Jr. than you or I think of John T. Smith, 1790 to 1864, of Livingston, Virginia, or some such. That everything is on fire, slow fire, and we’re all less than a million breaths away from an oblivion more total than we can even bring ourselves to even try to imagine, in fact, probably that’s why the manic US obsession with production, produce, produce, impact the world, contribute, shape things, to help distract us from how little and totally insignificant and temporary we are… The post-production capitalist has something to do with the death of civics. But so does fear of smallness and death and everything being on fire.»

-David Foster Wallace

 

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