The exhibition Swaying on the edge is a poetic articulation about closeness and distance, about crossing boundaries and transformation. Swaying on the edge helps us stay in balance and cope with differences, because who we are is not defined on the basis of opposites, but how we expand and move between them.
The exhibition is a story about change and transformation. It reveals the complexity of today's cultural identity, the obstacles and anxieties that arise from the need to navigate between the multiplicity of overlapping identities and communities. Technologies today offer us the opportunity to bridge distances, bring relationships closer, mediate contacts and thus allow us to be a part of several simultaneous realities. But how to connect these parallel worlds? What happens the moment we move from one to the other? We have become more malleable, fluid, but also confused and lost. Swaying on the edge expresses a continual gentle movement, an endless process of translating our experiences between different contexts. This form of translation is not easy to define - it consists of imperceptible processes and complex emotions, which we are not used to giving names, but bodies, textures, shapes and colors.
The exhibition presents four artists - Isidora Krstić, Rita Koszorús, Mayra Sérgio and Romy Yedidia. In their works, they each deal with topics of collective and personal identity, memory and personal history. In poetic and abstract language, they process emotions, traumas, anxieties and memories, and capture the process of transformation that comes with re-evaluating and articulating their experiences. The constellation of their works creates a story about experiencing change, about trying to express their respective experiences and personal processes through their artistic practice and thus re-reflect upon them. It is a narrative about the subtle processes that take place in the backgrounds of our lives, to which we usually don’t pay much attention. Therefore, this exhibition is an invitation to stop, listen, and perceive the swaying on the edge that takes place in each of us.
Isidora Krstić’s work On Distance and Dissonance presents an intimate prologue to the whole exhibition through a poetic reflection on distance and a feeling of dissonance. In this work, the artist processes her experience of living abroad, while trying to maintain contacts and relationships in her country of origin. Conference calls or emails are technologies that bear the promise of connection and closeness. However, remoteness can precipitate distance and alienation, whereas presence and closeness can be overwhelming, challenging and exhausting. Isidora captures the ambiguity of her position on the border of two cultures and environments, coping with feelings of uprooting and the urge to dream and long for distant places that might never become her home.
This narrative continues with Mayra Sérgio's work The Landscape Crossing an Ocean, in which the artist maps her gradual transformation and relationship with the new cultural environment of the Netherlands in which she currently finds herself. The work starts with a collection of items that Mayra gathered during her visit in Brasil. A banana leaf, a Virgin Mary statue, a piece of rusty fence, a plastic chair - a collage of memories, fragments of everyday life, a subjective map of tastes, sounds, textures and colors forming the structure of her hometown of Rio de Janeiro. They are gathered pieces from a past life, things so familiar that there would be no reason for them to be kept if she had continued to live in this place. However, returns followed by departures and distance intertwined with forgetting in fact change a person, and change their gaze and relationship to things. Well-known, close objects become different and a bit foreign. Even though Mayra’s collection returned to the Netherlands with her, it did not remain in its original composition in the new environment. Instead, the composition underwent a radical transformation - a conceptual one, but more so a profoundly physical one - Mayra gradually crushed one item after another into a fine powdered pigment, which was then pressed onto a long roll of paper through the technique of screen-printing. As a result of this process, a layered visual account of personal transformation and the reassessment of one's past, present and personal identity unfolds in front of the viewer.
In the schMERZraum series, Rita Koszorús based her compositions on collected elements, motifs, details or textures that evoke a certain feeling, mood or memory. A recurring topic in her current body of work has been nostalgia and what its character can tell us about the nature of the present. Nevertheless, her works are not a reconstruction of the past, but rather a layering of fragments, shapes and colors on the basis of associations, chance and intuition that create a kind of timeless world in-between. By their nature, her works follow Mayra’s, as they both compose them based on a set of elements that lay out the blueprint of a particular place, space and time, but then reorganize, layer and put together new constellations and meanings. In addition to her paintings, the exhibition also presents the photographs that play with incisions, crevices and holes through which one looks at her original works. By applying another medium over the paintings - photography - she deliberately blurs the difference between proximity and distance, between large and small, and between the actual surface of the canvas and the pattern laid out by the lens of the camera. Differences merge into one another and create an additional layer of meaning and visuality, which underlines a certain tension and confusion through an abstract language.
This tension is also present in Isidora Krstić's next work, Pink Nightingale. In it, Isidora materializes emotions, experiences and memories, captured in their embodied form as artifacts, bodily documents, stored and layered in our bodies. Over the years, their presence has become an increasing burden, under the weight of which all acquired life experiences are transformed into pulsating tension. Isidora is therefore looking for a way in which she can alleviate her anxieties, which ultimately leads her to transform the mentioned artifacts into real, material objects in physical space - she visualizes and materializes something that is effectively invisible and without a familiar material essence. Her artistic gesture transcends the boundaries between physicality and immateriality and gives her objects the character of visceral imprints. Isidora looks inside and translates the unseen, the unspoken and the unheard into the material, textual and auditory form, transforming what was only dreamt and felt up until then - into real objects.
The Anxiety Machine by Romy Yedidia, like Isidora's project, consists of the embodiment of emotions and anxiety through an artistic process, which in this case resides in a cathartic moment - the scream of the artist. Anxiety Machine is an art object composed of a long table, which has a metal tube with two outlets attached in the middle. One of the outlets contains a black powder, while the other serves to mobilize the powder through the artist’s scream. The yell causes the powder to spout into black dust and after a brief instance, the small particles settle onto the contrasting white surface of the table, where they form accidental ‘anxiety paintings’. However, this act is not simple; it requires the involvement of the whole body - the breath, abdominal muscles, lungs and vocal cords. It captures the moment of transition and transformation of unnamed, difficult feelings, anxieties and traumas, which are made visible through the Anxiety Machine’s mechanism. Having said that, Romy pushes the boundaries of this catharsis further, as she keeps screaming until she completely loses her breath and her body is in pain. It emphasizes the discomfort and the worries we have to face if we really want to understand our feelings. One cry may be a protest, a brief release of tension, but prolonging this moment conveys confrontation and an opportunity for reconciliation, which ultimately lies in discomfort.
This online exhibition was not an easy feat. Like the exhibition’s last work in line, Anxiety Machine, it was in fact a great exercise in discomfort, and the entire exhibition and its preparation were marked by the need to come to terms with vulnerability, constant transformation and ultimately perpetual fluctuations between proximity and distance in the midst of a global pandemic. Transforming the project into a virtual environment was not only an expression of necessity, but ultimately another aspect of what the exhibition is about. In today’s world, we all exist to a certain degree on the edge, although this experience can look different for each and every person. However, we seldom have a good name or vocabulary for this experience, which can evoke feelings of loneliness and alienation from the perceived outside world, as well as a profound sense of misunderstanding. Even so, this exhibition arose from personal connections, relating experiences and a sense of mutual understanding, and this is precisely the way in which we hope the audience will be able to connect to it as well.