We try to balance between reality and fantasy, between actual and virtual imagery, between the natural and the artificial.
Our lives are somehow surrealistic by default, as we live in an endless loop of countless contradictions: movement and stillness, fastness and slowness, sociability and loneliness, optimism and pessimism, consciousness and unconsciousness, meaningfulness and emptiness, creativity and destruction, freedom and subjection, spirituality and materiality, presence and absence, utopia and dystopia. And, at the end, it feels like we are balancing between existence and non-existence, in every step of the way, each and every moment.
The temporality – and the dreamlike ambiguity – of our existence reflects on all aspects of the human activity and experience, which is floating somewhere between remembering and forgetting. Every now and then, we might think that we have captured the meaning of life and the essence of our being but at the same time we also realize that our perception of cosmos falls into deception and illusion. The selected works explore the fluidity of the human experience in many different ways, focusing on our relation with nature and with ourselves and on our perception of what we live and of the things that surround us.
Viktor Brim in Dark Matter creates a dark, post-apocalyptic scenery of the human intervention on earth. His dreamlike – or, most likely, nightmarish – observation of a landscape altered and marked by human activity lacks of the human presence. In his work, presence and absence become one and this creates a threatening feeling to the viewer.
Sanaz Sohrabi in Disposables explores the distance between a blurred narrated experience of a political uprising and the interpretation and visualization of the narrated action through a slowed-down choreographed movement of performers in an empty space, creating new associations and, thus, a totally new experience between the visual and audio elements.
Jasmin Bigler and Nicole Weibel In the Subsense of Dagmar and Doris are playing with our perception of the everyday, by transforming the meaning and the utility of common objects and staging unexpected, surrealistic and extraordinary actions with objects and humans in ordinary spaces.
Stefanie Ohler in The attempt of smashing is trying something similar, in her own personal way: she stages a 'revival' of dead butterflies and symbolically transforms into a 'butterfly' herself, recording the whole procedure of setting a dreamy and exotic environment in her bedroom, like a ritual.
Sabrina Labis in How to Build a Mountain creates a multilayered visualization of a youtube tutorial, combining the voice-over with seemingly unrelated images, exploring the contradiction between the natural and the artificial, between the constructive and the destructive imprint of humans on nature.
Erik Levine in Still Lifes explores the concepts of time, memory and aging, capturing with sensibility the floating and fleeting time that simultaneously seems to be staying still, in a retirement home which could be anytime, anywhere.
The last video in this selection, Ode to Seekers 2012 by Andrew Norman Wilson, is a humorous –actually harsh and sarcastic – allegoric summary of the consumptive, addictive and decadent aspects of modern life. The video is designed to be screened as an endless loop, pointing out the vicious circle of a life that looks more like a failed party, under the exiting sounds of famous pop songs.
In a way, all these works invite the viewers to observe aspects of life and its contradictions as if they were watching a documentary. A poetic and surrealistic 'documentary', which synthesizes a bittersweet, diachronical palimpsest of human life and explores 'the space between' what we understand and what alludes us or escapes us, leaving room for the viewers to make their own connections and interpretations.
About the person
Gioula Papadopoulou is a visual artist and curator. She is a founding member and art director of Video Art Miden, an independent organization with international activity, dedicated to the exploration and promotion of video art (GR). Since 2020 she teaches at the New Media Laboratory of the School of Fine & Applied Arts, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki(AUTH, GR).
Image Credit: Video still: Jasmin Bigler & Nicole Weibel, Im Nebensinn von Dagmar und Doris (In the Subsense of Dagmar and Doris), 2016, Courtesy the artists