25aug 2023 opening 18-it ends
26aug – 27aug 14-20 | 28aug 17:30-20 | 29aug – 31aug 14-20 | 01sep – 02sep 17:30-20 | 03sep 14-20 | 04sep 17:30-20 | 05sep – 07sep 14-20 | 08sep 14-18 | 09sep 14-20 | 10sep and 12sep – 14sep 14-20 | 15sep 17:30-20 | 16sep 14-20 other times up on request or posted on instagram
Hardturmstrasse 3, 8005 Zürich (8.floor)
The Blood of a Poet
A group exhibition project of @theOff.space curated by Rocco A. de Filippo
The exhibition borrows its title from an avant-garde film composed of interconnected sequences, directed by Jean Cocteau (1930) as the first part of the Orphic Trilogy, which was followed by Orpheus (1950) and concluded with Testament of Orpheus (1960). The trilogy unites the mythological figures of Narcissus and Orpheus, and the winged Eros emerges from the dark shadow cast by the three celestial bodies in their eclipses. Orpheus blends into a surrealistic reading of the ancient enigmatic myth of the tragic fate of the poet and the youthful rebellious force inherent in the lyrics and sound of a poem. Orpheus is the archetype of the poet, especially of the singing poet. Ovid mystically transforms Orpheus into a poetic metamorphosis, a transformative Orpheus that is the very nature of transformation, man in nature interrogating the nature of transitional phenomena. The poem is something made or crafted. In Greek, creative is poietic – the poet’s creation is as marvelous as nature’s.
To the poet, metamorphosis is a force of desire opposed to the powers that be, a counter-cosmic agency that interferes with the cosmo-poietic dynamics. In other words, the will kindled by the Promethean flame to defy the oracle’s prophecies about the decision of the gods. Orpheus is the source of a new spheropoetic species that has become a biosphero-poietic geoforce. Meta-m-orphosis has two sides, destruction and creation, death and re-birth in a process of eternal return of the ever different, the art of transformation in which the spirit is purified. Meta indicates inner transformation, the temporality of the process rather than immortality, in-between-ness, “the metamorphic process going backward as well as forward” in manifold micro-events.
Metamorphosis is also the transformation process in evolutionary theory and biology. Goethe’s theory of metamorphosis of plants proposes an unexpected perspective onto the botanical investigation of the morphology of organic and living forms, trying to grasp the formative forces of the natural world, not only the evolution of form. The Urpflanze, or primeval plant, is a term from Goethe’s search for the “archetypal plant”. From this ideal conceptual archetype, all plant species arise through modification in continuous metamorphosis, steps of individuation through experience. It is the manifestation of an idea, a non-material concept at the heart of things, a mental power shifting through the gears of the transformative process, but graspable only by intuition and poetic sensibility. The sensual world is a precursor of the physical. The Urpflanze, the dynamic inward archetype of a plant, is not accessible to logical, deductive reasoning. The mysterious architecture of the formative process remains open and unknown. Metamorphosis is also adaptation to the environment, although not in fulfillment of a design plan, a teleology. Its inner impulses are not mere survival instincts. This leads to an understanding of ecology not as a food chain, but as an inner ideal aiming to actualize every living organism on its own. The Urpflanze extends to the Urphänomen that applies to the spectrum of living things. It is the unifying and overarching principle of Goethe’s metamorphosis of plants that unites science and poetry, overcoming subject/object dualism. Being poetic and being scientific are not incompatible. They are complementary.
The title of the exhibition connects metamorphosis back to the organic and living, both material and immaterial. It is not about essentialism, but essences affirming their own difference. Poiesis is the blooming of a blossom, the emergence of a silk moth from its cocoon. Blood cells are created in haemato-poiesis in a technological-biological process. The drops of the blood of a poet have a metaphoric power to become a randomly scattered constellation of stars, a flower blooming in the depth of the soul, a red rose, ephemeral like the vanishing presence of the echo with which the voice and sonic pattern of the lyre resonate with the inhuman sounds of nature. The breath exhibits its debt to the wind. Blood and water are mutually replaceable. Vessels carry rhythm and pattern – a primordial pattern.
Metamorphosis, which translates as transformation or transfiguration, can be broken into Meta, meaning “after”, and morphe, meaning “form”. Morpheus is one of the Greek winged gods, the god of dreams and nightmares who alters and shapes the dreams of the sleeping, son of Hypnos and Pasithea, of sleep and hallucinations. He and his demonic brothers Phobetor and Phantasos display their phantomic deceptive power by mimicking forms and forces of nature. Morphing, the gradual process of turning an image smoothly into another, is well known in an art context. Morphology is the study of form in linguistics, and in biology. Metamorphosis can be understood as the “pure plastic idea,” suggestive of plasticity in cognitive science, the plastic ability of imagination and creativity. Perhaps imagination is more important than knowledge.
In the creative principle of the imagination lies the beginning of all miracles. The magical, cult and ritualistic character of art is the archetype of art that remains unconsciously in our collective mind. It is troubling to teach creativity, at the heart of which is the mysterious, the dark, impenetrable and yet profound depth from which glories come, and no one knows why. What has become of the depth of creativity in the age of digital reasoning?
The mythical poet’s method of paradoxical transformations makes the future world possible for art and artists. How do human or natural creativity and poetic relate to synthetic intelligence and its combinatory creativity? Is AI more-than-human intelligence, a desire to transcend the limits of nature and reach for immortality? Will the pervasive scattered global cognitive automation endlessly gravitate, and yet remain unable to form a harmonious pattern. Will these operations perform a total oracle, and will the poet still have the magic power to escape its prediction? The po-ethic is more than intelligence. It is conscious, imaginative, laughing at itself, deconstructive and yet a rhythmic motif, an aesthetic pattern with its own moods of headaches, humor, and grief. Imagine the infinite metaphors of metamorphosis, and metamorphosis of metaphors. Why not the story of a salesman by the name of Gregor Samsa who “woke one morning from troubled dreams” and “found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect”?
The works in the exhibition contribute different artistic interpretations of metamorphosis.
Text: Dimitrina Sevova and Rocco A. de Filippo
Marc Busse (* 1990) Instagram Contact Marc Busse deals with reality and perception. The artist combines visible and tactile elements on canvas and puts the material and purpose of these elements into play. Busse works with various elements from tactile floor guidance systems (ribs, grooves or knobs) that enable people visual impairments to orientate themselves within public spaces and alert them to dangers. These floor guidance systems, as well as the practices of floor and marking colours used in barrier-free planning and building construction, are the starting point for Busse’s “Floor Paintings”. In doing so, Busse changes the context of the control systems, but not their precise function. Everyday orientation aids become compositions where the materials and functions of these items create a visual dialogue within the picture. If we now look at this picture as the observer, our awareness experiences the same confusion that optical illusions trigger. In the moment, knowing that we are unclear, we ask ourselves what is real now. This shows us that multiple versions of reality can coexist with no hierarchy. Busse carefully points out this fleeting moment of self-awareness by means of tactile language for the visually impaired. Text: Jordis Fellfrau Since experimenting with painting, it was important for me dat the work justifies it self. My practice with the materials is always to use them as instructed by the producer. In the case of the floor paintings i use material that is installed on the floor. 2013 i started ripping out the first guiding studs from the floor in Hong Kong so i could show the people what i was looking for. So after dat i started collecting the tactile ground surace indicators (TGSI) from all the city’s: Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, USA and Europe. They come in so many different materials and shapes and still all share the same function. The “floor paintings” work in some how like floor examples (floor samples). Mabey a situation dat could be installed but mostly functions only as a painting or idea. And is presented vertical like you would see it in a carpet store or in a presentation for an architectural project. I like the conflict between situation and cause of the situation. Like with FP73 where i have the scintillating grid illusion and replacing the white dots with the tactile ground studs.
Rocco A. de Filippo Homepage Contact Instagram Rocco de Filippo makes drawings and paintings. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, the artist often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, he tries to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations. “The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces,” as Hanna Arendt quotes Franz Kafka. The artist searches for (inter-)faces, like in psychology, where humans recognize faces faster and better than other patterns, or see them even in non-human objects, or, for the child, the face is a partial object of desire. His drawings do not reference recognisable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted, and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation. His works never show the complete structure. As a result, the artist can easily imagine interpretations of reality that are not necessarily predetermined by historical facts. By applying abstraction not as an analytical tool but rather following the flow of the unconscious and intuition, he creates intense personal moments by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.
Simon Epp: Homepage Contact Instagram The experimental and processual exploration of the combinations of colours, structures, surfaces and materials opens up the painterly approach to his work. The paintings and series of works that emerge from the step-by-step process of creation draw their power from the immediacy and spontaneity of creation. Thus geometric proportionalities, patterns and forms often form recognisable basic elements which, precisely because of their deliberately imprecise, hand-guided and irregular execution, develop a surprising effect and multi-layered visual quality in their imperfection and variability. Repetition and reproduction give rise to free, print-like and sculptural colour compositions. The empirical search for the tense relationship between abstraction, aesthetic composition and multi-layered associativity, which is palpable in the works and sometimes seems almost manic, has a contagious, personal and demanding effect.
Christoffer Joergensen (*1978) born in Denmark. Lives and works in Zürich. Homepage Instagram For Christoffer Joergensen, artmaking is the process of creating aesthetic fields of tension that are capable of sparking abstract feelings in the observer. A rich set of such fields of tension – between symmetry and asymmetry, composition and disorder, the autonomous and the interwoven, nature and culture, picture and pattern – permeates his work. As a whole, these complementarities interact to call forth an overarching sense of otherworldly distance, an alien beauty that is not easily fathomed.
Vilija Litvinaite : Homepage Instagram My artistic practice deals with everyday phenomena. Questions are asked about the communication of the unspoken, the hidden and the secret. In examining my work, it became clear to me that my ways of thinking represent the collision of two worlds: communist antimaterialism and capitalist surplus in a performance-oriented environment. When I came to Switzerland in 1998, Lithuania was just beginning to orient itself towards the West. I have not experienced the progressive transformation and therefore I lack the successive transitions from one world to another. Through my artistic activity, I try to create these connections. My creative ideas and questions are rooted in my childhood in Lithuania and I look for answers in my current daily life in Switzerland and I'm not interested in finding simple answers. I'm interested in opening up spaces for reflection. Making paper out of old clothes leads to deconstruction which takes a new look at the familiar and allows the material to be further transformed. In my work with dress seams, I was concerned with the role of women in society, and I see dress seams as a symbol of the distribution of roles. The inviolability of the creative process has always guided me in new directions and this is how the works in collages, photographs, prints and the technique of transforming materials were created. Craftsmanship and a sensitivity to materiality are of great importance to me. I acquire techniques such as paper-making or printing materials in order to arrive at new sculptural or pictorial invention.
Dieter Holliger *1950: Homepage Contact Instagram When he "lost" one of his organs of equilibrium years ago, the world around him literally turned upside down. Everything swayed, spun. State of chaos. Then, in the following years, his brain reprogrammed itself and replaced missing abilities. An amazing process. Since then, these very personal experiences have increasingly become part of his art. Finiteness is a theme. Vulnerability and healing too. Making the buried visible. The time span of a human life. Objects of the brain and organs, transformation of X-rays and scans, or works on non existing landscapes that he might discover one day. Dieter Holliger works with William Kentridge's statement in mind: The old Gods have retired. His works are meant to be emotional, irritating, thought-provoking...
Ana Hofmann: Homepage Contact Instagram Ana Hofmann's work deals with the interplay between nature and man, man and technology. The different forms and relationship patterns in organic, artificial and digital living worlds or structures, as well as their narrative potential, are of central interest to her. She takes up individual phenomena from these areas like tools and uses them to create fictional figures and narratives, which she presents as multimedia installations (photographs, video, sound, Plexiglas) or film works. She is interested in non-human-centered perspectives of our planet. It is important to her to cultivate a sensitive awareness of other organisms, living beings, non-living beings.
Dimitrina Sevova: Homepage Contact Instagram Dimitrina Sevova, Forest at Dusk (Investigation of Urpflanze), 2023 Drawing, charcoal, gum arabic binder, pigments, acrylic binder, on 350g Dorée paper. The drawing is part of a series of charcoal experiments in the dark of the night in the forest. I use charcoal to get a carbon copy because it is produced from burnt wood, and because of its blackness as a pigment. Drawing in the forest, placing the first traces on the sheet, I use gum arabic, an organic and ecologically friendly compound, to bind the charcoal powder. The impression of the environment inscribes itself in the drawing as well as the freedom of movement of my body on the large-format paper in nature amidst the sounds of the birds, the wind, the incredible smell of the pines. They all collaborate to influence my process. I later continue in the studio, adding color using pigments and acrylic binder, going into more detail. The forest and the weeds are at the same level of perspective, as the weeds are in their real size, in a poetic element that confuses the viewer’s perception. Through the drawing process I investigate the concept of the Urpflanze, or the archetype of the plant, an idea developed by Goethe in his botanical investigations. From this ideal conceptual archetype, all plant species arise through modification in continuous metamorphosis, steps of individuation through experience. It is the manifestation of an idea, a non-material concept at the heart of things. Being a poet and being scientific was his poetic method, which I also apply to this work based on direct observation working in nature in the night, continuously displacing the perspective relations typical of depictions of the landscape. Poetry perhaps is the archetype of all art. The primordial poetic source of creativity is where the forms take their shapes from. It is a truly poetic endeavor, not only regarding how the drawing evolves, which is itself a metamorphosis, but it is also a metaphor of metamorphosis, like Uroboros eating its own tail. My starting point in my choice to work in the night in the forest with the blackness of charcoal is the idea that creativity always starts in the dark. I also think about dark Hegelianism. Here is one quote that I really like, not only about creativity but also knowledge. Their source is concealed in the dark of night. “When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.” (Hegel)
Laura Lux: Laura is an artist who mainly works with painting. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, Laura focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting. Her paintings are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, she tries to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place. Her works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, she investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination. Her works are often about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water), space and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes developed in absurd ways.
Leila Peacock: Homepage Leila Peacock. Born in the UK, lives and works in Zurich. With a background in both literature and visual art, her practice is situated between writing and drawing, exploring the ways these two activities can enhance and deform each other. Drawing words and writing drawings, she creates hand-drawn essayistic installations that oscillate between the poetic, the comical and the diagrammatic, populated by maniacal marginalia used to embody thought-forms.