Cleanched Staring Eyes
24.04.2015 - 24.05.2015
Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow
Coordinator: Ola Nowicka
Exhibition opened: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 6 pm
«It stands. See in the dim void how at last it stands. In the dim light source unknown. Before the downcast eyes. Clenched eyes. Staring eyes. Clenched staring eyes.»
Samuel Beckett, from “Worstward Ho”
“Ideologies create substantiating archives of images, representative images, which encapsulate common ideas of significance and trigger predictable thoughts, feelings”.
Susan Sontag, from “Regarding the pain of others”
Information totality is a part of contemporary globalized world. Everyday we are receiving information, among which events at, so called, “hot spots” draw a special attention. There is no deficite in news about armed conflicts that appear immediately after or even during being last. But does this variability of visual information lets as understand the situations and contexts, or on the contrary – it impacts on our point of view and how we comprehend them? Do we see anything in these conditions, or do we just seem to see?
According to the assumptions of ophthalmology, there is a blank area called the blind spot in our eyeshot, between right and left eye. Accordingly to this phenomenon, we are unable to fully see what is happening around us. We construct the missing image of reality and try to fill the blind spot, relying our knowledge, memory or compelling influence of information. Usually we are not aware of this constant construction of reality. Exception of the rule is the disease, when the blind spot is perceptible and becomes genuine darkness absorbing the reality. Everything may start from small, a gradually expanding black dot or like a tapering tunnel which consequently devours vision as long as everything is obscured. When it spreads about the society, inability or limitations in the vision become the mechanism of human self-defense that brings about unsolicited blindness against escalating violence. There is also another form of blindness – one imposed by the machine of war propaganda which produces a binary vision of reality and creates "us" and "them", "brothers" and "enemies", "citizens" and "aliens". Those divisions do not have any reasonable basis in reality. As we move into the future, it seems that we are destined to 'repeat the mistakes of history' because we refuse to see our past. Tragic events will be engulfed by fading light and our memory will keep only chosen heroes, leaving behind unsung victims. Victims are always omitted, and the price of human life becomes devaluated, while sides of the conflict remain engaged in defending their rightwards.
The exhibition consists of works comprehending recent events on the east of Ukraine. Artistic reflection on the war and its consequences does not focus on geopolitical dimension of the conflict but primarily on the concept of optics and perception in relation to the society watching the socio-political catastrophe. In the „Blind spot” series, photographs taken from a number of reports about the war in Donbas are interlinked with the phenomenon of gradually going blind and a resulting narrowed field of vision: the imagery is almost completely obscured by black ink. Video „Regular places” touches the matter of memory that lies in the public space despite no visual signs. Streets and squares of Kharkiv, where during the spring in 2014 the activists of Maidan confronted the Antimaidan, are currently filled with tranquility. This apparent harmony of the city which avoided the tragic fade of neighbor regions, is a manifestation of the desire to erase traumatic moments from the memory. Legal norms can be easily doubted when citizens refuse compromises, loosing themselves in the search for enemies among each other, and after all start with the same ease to get used to each other. Nevertheless, echoes of violence contained in a memory of the place interrupt the ostensible calmness and leave alone with one’s own insults, shame and despair.
Works from the series presented in Art Agenda Nova will be also shown on the exhibition “All the World's Futures” (curated by Okwui Enwezor) at the 56th Biennial in Venice 09.05-22.11.2015.
Mykola Ridnyi – born in 1985 in Kharkiv. He is a co-founder of the SOSka group – Ukrainian collective of artists within which an independent exhibition space, workshops and actions are conducted in Kharkiv. He is a finalist for the young Ukrainian artists contest Malevitch Art Award in 2014 and PinchukArtCentre Prize in 2013 and 2009. Mykola Ridnyi was also a resident of DAAD Artist-in -Berlin program, Sommerakademie Center Paul Klee in Bern and CEC Artslink in New York. His works have been presented in Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the United States. Ridnyi lives and works in Kharkiv.