As the title of the show suggests this exhibition addresses the nature of relations, and also with that the stability and vulnerability of relations, both in their creation and sustainability. In Craving Caring Clumsy Connection we are faced with three different types of work; patchwork with silk cordons reminiscent of tiles, a series of verisimilar double-ended tongues and a number of cut-out wood structures with mostly dog-like shapes.
The greek word for dog-like is of course κυνικός (kynikos), from which we have the English word cynical. Far from evoking cynicism though, these sculptures seem more likely to have been inspired by a sense of belonging and togetherness, so an intellectual sojourn to Ancient Greece might still be encouraged.
The striking silhouettes in I felt special could very well remind us of the shadow world that Plato spoke of as our physical existence, the mere glances we can experience of an ideal form of the other that we might never climb out of the cave to see. However, being composed not only of a cut-out, but also a surrounding structure, I felt special points to a larger context, not necessarily free of ideals, but indeed to a holistic picture, where more parts and partners have to be considered.
The special human-dog relationship is encapsulated in the phrase “man’s best friend,” which was first time ever recorded in the writings of Frederick the Great of Prussia. It might not come as a complete surprise that a semi-closeted gay man found comfort in the fidelity and unconditional love, that an uncomplicated relationship with an Italian Greyhound represented for him, but how uncomplicated was that really? Even if we take for granted the assertion that human-dog relationships are less complex than human-human relationships, we would still remiss: “What is the dog saying?”
The double game of language gives us on the one hand the ability to agree on consensus reality, but on the other, it’s enactment also rejects all other possibilities. It renders what stands outside language meaningless. A notion like this seem to be what the double tongues in the works Vulnerable Lingual are suggesting.
Even if a connection is established one has to engage in mediation and negotiation. As we know from the master-slave dialectic or for instance with Marcel Mauss’ idea of a gift; initial power dynamics in any relation can be easily subverted or twisted to reveal a more complex or not-so-easily discernible positions. Who’s over, who’s under? Cui bono?
Anyone who has ever taken a stab at working with sewing or knitting, knows that the sequencing upsand- downs, unders-and-overs is in itself what keeps the fabric together. If this dialectic motion was not to perpetuate, the whole thing would unravel. In with Comfortable Restrictions Steinum displays this simple gesture with a overlays of silk cordons on patchwork.
The wild and wonderful color palettes both in with Comfortable Restrictions and I felt special also hint at final way out, in that it is reminiscent of a psychedelic trip. The final stage of any evolution is transcendence – like in the Major Arcana – where finally one is merged with the world, in hermaphroditic harmony. Letting go of the ego, making it wholly insignificant and truly see that the world is all that is the case, would be a nice resolve, but getting there will require one heck of a trip.
Coming together might be the hardest thing of all.
Text: Mikael Brkic