So, this is a film called "We Are All in This Together." I have taken the phrase from a philosopher named Rosi Bradiotti. She is a self-declared new materialist. Her use of this phrase focuses on how we come to understand 'we' and what terms we encounter 'this.' I have taken this approach to explore the ambiguity of things and their way of producing a third position.
Exploring the agency and importance of objects and materials in creating meaning this way allows the spaces between things to come to the fore. What the film is trying to do is explore the idea of interconnectedness were ideas and objects are trying to describe ideas and objects. An object can be understood as anything that we encounter. Stuff that goes beyond the matter of being a thing in itself. Our understanding of thingness, some say, could be an idea, concept, or perceived notion, for even ideas matter. Or can we say 'do' matter? Ideas like the Anthropocene, does that matter? So, when this film asks can you feel the tension, I’m asking you to consider a fragile state of being. fragility is in the indeterminate, Interconnectedness, and fuzziness. But also in the way we approach a possibility, that which is yet to manifest. And it is in this becoming that we are witness to a new form. Like Maria Bartuszova's delicate eggs or her weight-filled balloons that give over to gravity, unyielding and dense, something has come to be, yet in its very own being is already alluded us and become 'story.' There is more in what's missing. Taught boundaries surrender to other states of being and yield to the withdrawn.
So, if the Anthropocene is a thing at all, it's somewhere deep inside the material, hidden beyond the penumbra, submerged in the occluded.
he concept of the withdrawn, as given to us by Heidegger, or what Walter Benjamin refers to as the aura, others call it allure or a reservoir, is at best our clumsy way of trying to wrestle with Kant's transcendental, his Noumena - Things-in-themselves, which cannot be accessed. In this denial of the Anthropos yearning, the work of Bartuszova’s surpasses and transcends our grapple in a way - mere words, description, or interpretation - never could. One way my practice has tried to grapple with this understanding of the meaning of withdrawal is contained in a sculpture called Reckoner II and was inspired by the work of Rachel Whiteread and Doris Salcedo. The work continues a conversation by submerging tungsten and Fluorescent in concrete. materiality - even more so reality, for that matter – is. So, it is not lost on me as a male queer practitioner that there are voices on all sides, a sameness in the Latin meaning of the individual, but like any individual, we are all in this together.
This paradox of opposites is what Bartuszova's work articulates so successfully. Her use of weight and gravity, curve and edge, boundary and line, are all given over to tension. This tension is the me and the 'you.' It is our actions and my consequence, just humans being, yet being human is the conflictual other existing in opposition. Her work is post-conflict. Like our atomic past, the Cold War is over. Yet, something remains in the open fissures. Hence, Reckoner II looks into the atomic and electromagnetic, the strong and the weak forces and considers the balance between fragile terrains and object relations. Fragile notions and weighty subjects always leave more than an object relation for you to contend with. This contention, if we are to understand the prefix Con- which means to come together – implies that - if we use the Latin derivation - something to strive towards. Therefore, to strive, we need an environment, a space, an arena. But what if we don't know this space or this space becomes unfamiliar as a terrain? How can this strange terrain embody tension? Is it in the unknown? The peculiar and obscure? And more so, how have these terrains ruptured and split? What forces were at play when this occurrence happened? Like Doris Salcedo's rupture across the turbine hall floor, we can only ever really paper over the cracks. From concrete to eggs from raindrops on the human body, the rupture stands as a deep attunement to material realities.
Precarious states are born of fragile terrains. In relation to states we encounter today the precariat finds it hard to engage for too long before they have to move on. Maria Bartuszova's work, as quoted through the gallery of Alison Jacques, is "the simple idea of how we are naturally bound to each other," this joining, or coming together, either through force or desire, is directional on a horizon of interdependence. One way I have chosen to embody this encounter is on the vertical plain. Fragile Terrains: Continuous Series is a body of ceramic sculptures that are deliberately, as vessels, non-functional. In this non-functionality, many philosophical positions present themselves within the vessel escaping fixed terms. What is removed, as function, now represents itself as a problem, a tension, a disconnection. The removal draws boundaries that somehow shift and move on fixed lines. Try to define them, though, and the object immediately alludes, hides, or recedes into the background of the now. For it is in the background, the place Heidegger refers to as the Ready-to-Hand, that we find differing cartographies of the real in states that conceal new ways of knowing. Going back to reckoner II, we are thrown into a world dominated by the atomic and empirical, the quantum and the mattering of matter. Where queered perspectives and epistemologies skew that which we think we know, Schrödinger's waveform brings about entanglements with new terrains.
To Karen Barad, another female philosopher and queer thinker, our removal within the object relation assures "the inseparability of the object from the agencies of observation." Barad elaborates that trying to determine any position only resolves rather than ‘extends.’ We need terrains to extend, a place to escape fixed positions. Again, we can investigate the paradox of needing to hold together systems which would fall apart without apparatus, structure, and administration, yet collapse the same system upon investigation. For it will only ever be one real thing, a thing that escapes all other things. What escapes through the object relation is that which escapes definition. So, we can talk about eggs, the Anthropocene, high five emojis, shapes, and forms yet across the divide they seem to stray over into new cosmoses, new environments, and complicated space. The works you have seen relish the gap and use it to see what fits. They metaform new terrains, use the tension to manifest new energy, bringing about a potential to mediate and amplify differing oppositions. This energy can be measured in the work done by the string that holds together Bartuszová’s bursting clay orbs or the tall Daliesque giraffe leg wires that hold up a sparce ground. So again, if we are all in this together, it’s evident that where this is, has a scarcity and fleetingly hangs in the air like those same tensions and anxieties of a changing world.