Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Parlor Games: Axioms

Parlor Games: Axioms
Installation with synthetic netting, synthetic hair extensions, natural rubber, tar, asphalt, ceramic tiles, wooden boxes, "Ruby Crystal" plastic plates, porcelain cup, projected digital drawing, printed digital photograph, soil, palm and jackfruit seedlings.
Below is the curator's statement Carla Hermann wrote about the show (my translation):

"I feel like I m stepping into your room. - was my expression of surprise to artist, Timea Tihanyi, at our last meeting. The installation Parlour Games: Axioms by USA-based, Hungarian-born artist that is currently presented at Largo das Artes presents very particular choices that make up her almost enigmatic logic. Resulting from various encounters over the past two months of her residency, the objects and materials Timea chose to include— be those of a result of active production or accidental encounters—are those she has developed an affective connection to, and thus, for her, carry meanings and significances. When looked at more closely, some reveal aspects of our particularly Brazilian history but they are also a reading of otherness that has been experienced by the artist. 
In the installation, there are networks made from black hair extensions and disposable transparent red plates and cups in spatial constructions that refer to both kitsch and, at the same time, reminiscent of constructivist and modernist architecture. These materials, including oil by-products that is present in the compressed asphalt discs and the natural rubber, which is cut in the form of colonial architectural adornments, are pregnant with Brazilian social memory.
To the viewer, however, no easy solution is given to the riddle that is the meaning of the entire installation. Instead, the viewer/participant needs to look deeper at the details in the materials and processes in order to understand the connections among the parts, which function as symbols and metaphors. This process leads to the secrets. The reason for the artist not wanting to give us an easy narrative is due to her interest is in the connection (or in the friction in communication) between the visual experience and cognition of the mind. At the end, she wants to find out how the body perceives this constructed space. The installation leaves us free to understand what's in front of us, to perceive the forms, to understand the ways they infer motivations, ultimately unravelling some kind of narrative that is present in the form of a black line (a line of drawing) that runs through the objects placed in the space.
What we have is a puzzle, a sample of the artist’s experience, to which she invites us in a form an unsettlingly non-linear narrative. We feel that we want to understand the steps of her thought-process and to find out how these experiences were made and assimilated into the installation. We want to start to weave explanations, though these become layered and complex, in order to fully realize the truth of her choices. Maybe I was trying to get inside the head of Timea when I said that I seemed to be entering such a particular and personal space as “her room.” And maybe that's the feeling we all feel walking into Parlour Games: Axioms. It is a script of fiction without a narrative as observed by the artist, who in addition to being a university art professor, interestingly, is also trained in neuroscience."
Carla Hermann 2015

I think the term "fiction without a narrative" which was first used in our conversation with curator, Alexandra Sá, is very descriptive of my work in general and of this installation in particular. In addition to calling it "my room" Carla has also called the installation a "black box" (as the ones that keep all the data on airplanes). 
Detail of the net with the Kayapo hand. I think of the hand as the hand of the maker, the trickster, the magician. It has a certain power that is beyond logic and with which it is able to transform materials. 
In the shadow of the net rests a city made of plastic. It's my ruby red version of the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz. A formal and conceptual utopia of the city.
It's possible to walk into the installation.
There are many things that are meant to be taken for "real" or "living" in the installation, including the photographic hands and the moving dog. But this one, a live jackfruit seedling I have been growing since early April, and a palm seedling are the only two that are truly real and living. They are a somewhat sentimental but necessary counterpoint to all that is synthetic and symbolic. 
A view of the dog: hesitant, jittery. He sits down then stands again, not quite knowing what to do with himself. 
My work is always a re-positioning of myself in relationship to something else. In this sense, the work accomplished during the residency is not just about Rio (Brazil) but about my relationship to what I found in Rio. The installation, in my own view, is based on dualisms, the most important of these is the pair of UTOPIA and DYSTOPIA. This mixture of a hopeful idealism and the messy reality is neither new nor unique. In fact, I've seen this in Hungary both during and after the Berlin wall, and now again in all over Europe, as many of the countries are dealing with  their of special blend of issues resulting from a collapsing economy, faltering social structure, painful legacies and increasingly inhomogeneous population. 

Coming from a Continental intellectual tradition, I had been taught to look for fundamental rules and to make abstractions. This was in the hope of finding a perfect solution, creating a UTOPIA of a general rule that is applicable and will always remain true. Looking from UTOPIA, DYSTOPIA is chaos, it has no place and makes no sense. But reality is most often dystopic. Dystopia is a twisted, adulterated version of the ideal, a place where everything has gone awry but no one is responsible (and none cares or dares to solve it). Seeing from UTOPIA, DYSTOPIA is wrong. Or, so I’ve been taught… 
While being here, I came to see Rio as a gigantic dystopia. There are many things that are not right, of course, but there is also sense in the unsettling chaotic mass. There is a certain logic to the illogical situations and many many things that are outside of logic. What I found is that there is not a choice between the two states, but an existence that is in-between the two. That's what I wanted to make the work about. 
I'm done with making but I'm not yet finished with the story. I liked that the curators referred to my work as fiction. I will go with that and keep posting more about Brazil. Hopefully, those posts will further shed light on the ideas and sources mentioned above.    
Posing with a few artist and mathematician friends at the opening. 

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