"No sky, no Earth", un projet curatorial de fin d'études de l'artiste brésilienne Alina d'Alva, résidente en Tunisie. Texte écrit en anglais par Christine Bruckbauer, critique d'art autrichienne, également résidente en Tunisie.
Voir les photos de Héla Ammar
Modern societies belief in materiality and the cultural conditioning based on science have limited our ability to deal with different realities. Mankind desecrated nature, reducing the wonderful diversity of the world to purely utilitarian value.
There are cultures which developed their knowledge in a deep connection with nature and with a vision where everything is sacred, connected and accountable.
To survive the schizophrenia of the modern world, contemporary artists seek to integrate fragments of reality, cultural roots, ideologies and views that inhabit one’s imagination.
Artists try to discover a way to re-experience the rituality of the world anddevelop new existential possibilities. By bringing rituals into the art space the artists subvert the logic and control of daily life, meeting the powers of the unconsciousness and immanent creativity.
Their creative work is a spiritual work, an attempt to feel in depth the lonely condition of a human being and its relationship with the entire world.
No Sky, no Earth is a project of the Brasilian artist Alina Dalva Duchrow. It is a unique exhibition, a cross-cultural dialogue between artists from Brazil, Germany, Benin and Tunisia.
Text on the works presented : Art criticism Christine Bruckbauer:
NO SKY, NO EARTH
Snow falls ceaselessly
Spirituality is a more precise form of knowing; it is a form of unknowing, a quantum unknowing – not learning but remembering.
Spirituality is a way of being in the world, not another worldliness above this world rather deeper into it. It is a form of purity – the purity of intention. Spirituality is undifferentiated theism.
When Alina d’Alva asked for support with her curatorial project for her master’s degree at the Alanus Kunsthochschule in Bonn three weeks ago, we did not imagine that something so great could evolve within such a short time.
The starting point was her own artistic work, which is spiritually strongly linked to her country of origin. D’Alva grew up in Brazil’s syncretic society where a pantheon of divine spirits from indigenous and African rituals are incorporated within Roman Catholicism.
We decided to invite artists who share this fascination for the ‘immaterial reality’ and whose works are also inspired by the beliefs, practices, and or rituals associated with a particular spiritual tradition.
Finally we are proud of being able to present artworks from at least 12 artists who all come from countries with a strong spiritual heritage. Surprisingly fundamental connections could be excavated between the different places and continents. As through the slave trade Central African beliefs were introduced to the North and over the Ocean to the Latin American Coast and often gained ground as new religious formations. Today they are reflected for example, in the Orisha cult in Brazil or in the lilas performed by Gnawas or Stambeli in North Africa.
But how, after all, does a visual artist reference the intangible, the immaterial?
How can something be depicted which is ultimately invisible?
By delivering documentaries?
By re-staging or even performing such religious practices?
By trying to catch the transcendent with the photo camera? (Photographers have actually utilized the intrinsic mechanics of the light sensitive medium to achieve spiritual illusions in the past.)
The following artists dared the almost impossible:
Video Instalação Lamia Nadji e Karo Mast - Maroco e Brazil
For Lamia Naji the acquaintance with the Gnawas opened up the world of spirits and supernatural powers. Gnawas ceremonies use music and dance to evoke spirits, which can drive out evil or cure psychological illnesses. The deeply hypnotic trance of music and its effect to the human psyche cause great fascination. For a significant period the photographer attends and assists at lilas, rituals of possession, which usually last the whole night. There her camera follows the devotees throughout the collective ritual from preparation to climax
Installation - Alina d’Alva Duchrow - Brazil
Alina d’Alva and Carlos Brito stage a performance, which takes place in a fictional universe, where individual and collective mythologies meet. Using elements of religious practices from Brazil and other personal realms, d’Alva and Brito present a ‘healing ritual’ that involves and transports the audience to the Shaman’s house. This ritual allows the experience of a liminal space, where new existential possibilities are being developed.
Two other artists respond with their artistic works to the syncretism practiced in Brazil. Eugenic Zlocowick ironically subverts the exaggerated Jesus cult inherent in South America with his own incarnation into the worshipped Christ-figure by projecting his face into kitschy devotional cards presenting the countenance of Jesus. Whereas Silvana Olivieri works on the orikis, which are lyrics orally transmitted and inherited from the African religion Vodun. The video odo-iya presents an oriki, a calling for the orisha Yemanja, the Queen of the Sea.
Installation - Tobi Ayédadjou - Benin
Tobi Ayédadjou connects with the spiritual roots of Benin, her country of origin. Criticizing today’s wilful ignorance of an enormous ancient knowledge of healing, in preference to modern medical treatments, the artist indicates the forgotten power of traditional healing methods. Believing in Vodun, usually the Fa, the deity of geomancy, is consulted before making any diagnoses.
In a storage-room of Dar Mima, Ayédadjou creates a mystical installation with the crucial elements of the Ilé Iwossan, the house of the traditional healer.
Nicene Kossentini-sculpture installation & Héla Ammar - photo installation : Purification - Tunisia - credit photo: Héla Ammar
A woman performing the al-wudú, the Islamic washing ritual prior to worship, is presented in Héla Ammar’s photo installation Purification. She re-enacts the gestures of ablution. Chillingly, the washbowl doesn’t contain clear water but blood. Ammar refers to the concepts of pure/impure and maculate/immaculate, which remains a constant female struggle. Visually, the artist refers also to demon exorcism practiced in Tunisia by the Stambeli who smear fresh blood from sacrificed animals onto the body of an afflicted person.
Somnambule - Installation - Sonia Kalel - Tunisia
The garments designed by Sonia Kallel reinvent stereotypes, with which society identifies the human form. Like a second skin they reflect a certain state of being. Kallel chooses jute (hardened with resin) as the fibre for her objects due to its resemblance to human skin. Somnambule presents a hollow female corset with remarkably long arms reaching out to the front. Hanging ghostly from a strong brunch of a tree it is directed towards the ocean. Inevitably the myths about the phenomenon of noctambulism are evoked. Presumed as the mysterious state of being neither awake nor asleep, which has always carried notions of suspense and apprehensibility within people
The video-work Sopa – The Leguan project by Karo Mast presents the story of a peculiar species, the Green Iguana. Originally native to Latin America it is afflicted with several notions of mystical powers and therefore used as a source of traditional medicine.
While in modern South America the scaly and spiny animal with its colourful shimmering body is still regarded as a culinary delicacy, oddly, in Europe it has gained great popularity under pet lovers. In her 15 Minute long film Karo Mast interlocks the exorbitant love of animals by Europeans with the Latin American eating habits, which by the end leaves a funny taste in the mouth.
Installation - Patricia Triki - Tunisia
10 years ago Patricia Triki produced a comprehensive body of work entitled Vortex 1. The multimedia installation of photographs, collages on rusty metal sheets, paintings and photocopies behind tracing paper and plastic foils, shows only one subject: the portrait of the artist, though almost unrecognisable. A Vortex, a spinning flow, which seems to have taken possession of the artist’s body and transferred it into a state of trance. To arrive there, simply an ancient Sufi practice is applied: the whirling dance, with the only goal: ecstasy.
The figures in Marianne Catzaras photographs are plunged into ambivalence. Placed in a doomsday setting, surrounded by bizarre architecture and combined with dramatic lightening they radiate solitude. Neither present nor absent, they are like forsaken aliens from a different dimension.
Nicene Kossentini-sculpture installation
Nicène Kossentini’s life sized figural sculptures seem to be frozen. Holding a slightly hunched pose, there is no eye contact between them. They are connected with each other by almost invisible strains of nylon threads. Hair grows on the head, the seat of the brain and origin of all thinking, so it is easily viewed as ‘prolonged thoughts’. For Kossentini they visualise the mental connection between people, the mystery of kinesics communication. Like tearing hairs out also the disruption of this mental connection may evoke enormous pain.
The here described works may only tangentially address spirituality, and might, in fact, be subverting or satirizing religious beliefs.
As the artists are not ‘initiates’, they deliver just a foretaste by presenting only small facets of the Spiritual Universe.
The title NO SKY, NO EARTH; Snow falls ceaselessly (a Haiku by Hashin), already indicates the elusiveness of this project. If we are not able to see the Sky, nor the Earth, there will still be ‘something’ that touches us gently and leaves behind ‘a moist spot’, a Snowflake settling on our shoulder.
Photos: Professor Andreas Reichel of the University Alanus Hochschule in Bonn, except the image: Nicene Kossentini-sculpture installation & Héla Ammar - photo installation : Purification - Tunisia - credit photo: Héla Ammar