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Dripping Cavities

 

by Bekim Hasaj & Valentina Gelain

 

exhibition project

 

 

Dripping Cavities. Title that heralds in a whispered but vibrant vision the two works presented, evoking connections among their peculiarities.
A pragmatic research, outlined by traces and testimonies, contrasts with a more abstract analysis, driven by feelings... an exploratory state corresponds to a wandering motion.

However, elements of a common stage also emerge in the profiling of this individual narrative that intertwine by exchanging incipit of content with explicit of form.

In the exhibition the artist Bekim Hasaj is presenting the ungoing investigation 'Scanning Landscape', through which he reconsiders to represent the landscape out of its conventional-historical frames, followed the urgency to know and then impress the intimate relationship with the surrounding in a visual yet original and personal abstraction.

The multidisciplinary body of work 'The Grey Hour' by Valentina Gelain, highlights how we can relate emotionally to the environment to express our inner mental and emotive states, showing a frame of mind connected to apathy, the inability to act, the difficulty of self-relating and, specifically, the dissociative disorders.

The projects were inspired, finding expression and concreteness, by panoramas and rural spaces of Ostrobothnia in 2021. The two works, echoing each other and finding resonance in their duality, open a dialogue that finds voice in the shared experience and collaboration of the artists, as well as the areas where they have been realized.

Therefore, the natural configuration and the objective/subjective (re)interpretation of the landscape, together with the exploratory and experimental line are decisive and form the core of ‘Dripping Cavities’.

All this is accentuated by the character and research of Hasaj and Gelain who, through a plurality of mediums and techniques such as video, photography, sculpture, painting, offer a varied scenario of content and form.

Being led by patterns of an imprinted meditation flowing through the encounters and junctions of a reality that has always been there and is now uncovered, unrolled and delineated in an even more intricate map... real paths and mental labyrinths, where one blurs having the possibility of recomposing, finding oneself in a myriad of facets ready to merge.

Encouraging dialogue and confrontation on the awareness of the other and ourselves, finding expression in the environment and its nuances; bringing out the territory through perceptions, colours, shapes, patterns that, by concretizing the almost/now invisible, refresh the viewer's gaze with renewed curiosity.

Main exhibition archive:

Makers' Gallery, Vaasa (Finland, December 2022); Konstrundan 2022, Malakta Art Factory, Malax (Finland, September 2022); Albert IX Gallery, Curator Anni Fahler, Helsinki (Finland, January 2023); Vaasa City Art Gallery, Coordinator Silvia Rinne, Vaasa, Finland (November 2023-January 2024) / Interview with the artists by Elsa Barbieri for Exibart, 12 November / 'Performative acts during the day' event, 12.12.2023.

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The exhibition project aims to promote a cycle of events focused on the two multidisciplinary projects 'The Grey Hour' and 'Scanning Landscape' at national and international level in 2022-23.

The Grey Hour, Valentina Gelain, 2021-2023

Scanning Landscape, Bekim Hasaj, 2021-2023

 

The ‘Dripping Cavities’ exhibitions' cycle is funded by Svenska Kulturfonden, Svensk-Österbottniska Samfundet, Bröderna Gröndahls Stiftelse & Eugène, Elisabeth och Birgit Nygréns Stiftelse.

 

Curatorial Text:

 

Elsewhere [stop]

Labyrinth [stop] Environment [stop] City [stop] Forest [stop] Mind [stop] Inside [stop] Outside [stop] Past [stop] Present [stop]

Ostrobothnia [stop]

 

The need to change styles and shapes in the burning need to develop new devices of representation guides Dripping Cavities towards The Grey Hour by Valentina Gelain and Scanning Landscape by Bekim Hasaj, conceived and presented, in the exhibition, as a Pollockian derivation device, open on all sides so that everyone, indiscriminately, can cross it.

 

Valentina Gelain and Bekim Hasaj talk to each other by communicating their discoveries to one another, and communicating them to us. This is the sign towards which to direct our steps to reach that passage, a secret one, that of city and forest, present and past, outside and inside – separate enemies without any possible communication – it does only one thing. We have built villages and cities like trees have built woods and forests, and so we also represent ourselves, as if our contact with the earth stopped at what we set our feet and our eyes on, considering ourselves as simple passers-by. I propose, then, the metaphorical and synecdochical assumption of the city and the forest as emotional states to go beyond the idea of Laugier or the prototypes of Boullée and Ledoux and arrive at a vision, as well as a narrative, individual and whispered, that encourages the awareness of the other and of ourselves in the expression of the environment and its nuances of light and shade.

 

«I had descended to the roots and now I find myself as if suspended...

I had climbed up the branches and found myself swallowed up in a labyrinth.

But how can you be down there when you say you are on the branches?

And how do you get so high, when you are always descending?»

 

The echo of Italo Calvino's verses encourages the consideration of Dripping Cavities as the result of an addition: that is, the sum of idea and action, which exceeds the simple description of what is in favour of the understanding of the aesthetic scope, nature and quality of the processes involved. Both Gelain and Hasaj do not look exclusively at the outside, to Ostrobothnia, but activate their senses towards experiences, perceptions, emotions, spirituality and sensations, both physical and mental. What the traditional meaning of environment is: urban, mental, physical or labyrinthine, is expanded and developed along unconventional and complementary roads of the self, subconscious, identity, body, thoughts, memories and idiosyncrasies that interact within each of us.

 

The anthropologist Gregory Bateson, hypothesising the overcoming of the Cartesian division between mind, body and environment, made known the example of a blind man with a stick to express the difficulty in establishing the limits of the beginning and end of the self. We can perhaps set a boundary between the mind of man and his body, or between his body and the stick he uses to perceive space, or even, between the stick and the surrounding space? The doubt of Batesonian memory regarding the arbitrariness of bodily boundaries is revived in the in-depth look at the human condition and the relationships that force the individual to stiffen in the pre-established roles of Valentina Gelain as well as in the urgency of knowing and representing in an anthropological way the intimate relationship between community and environment of Bekim Hasaj.

 

Within the horizons – unimaginable in Bateson's time – in which perception is recognised as having a crucial role as a fruitful construction and not a mere representation of something that exists outside of itself, The Grey Hour and Scanning Landscape depict complex, intricate landscapes that are often surprising, and that we continuously transform into an incessant work of creation that corresponds to our own life.

 

«The membrane is peeling away. / The reflection drips and everything seems to lose consistency, / mixing in a moment that appears eternal. / Contemplating in a static wandering motion, / I find myself looking at someone who was me, / in a meditative elsewhere, right here: / between fragments of the past and waves of the present... / … shrouded in grey». Short sentences and syntax that is reduced to the essential take us elsewhere, in front of a figure that is intimate and solitary, while moving in dense vegetation. The sound gives shape to a curious counterpoint: is it your thoughts that become entangled in an inextricable tangle or do the trees want to take you under their protection?

Infused with a particular and melancholic charm, Valentina Gelain's film, The Grey Hour, is played on several psychic levels in the apparently restricted space that divides the self and the environment, understood as a physical and mental environment, inaccessible to those who do not have a certain key. The action of Gelain does not limit itself to letting us look, but rather makes us descend into the part until we experience that feeling that "Drop by drop... / in my nest and prison / we are islands / close, on our own / part of the same thing / sinking towards the origin / decomposing and recomposing / in fluid metamorphosis / will be imbued catharsis".

 

The key, or instrument, however, although different, is used by Bekim Hasaj to approach, and therefore, look more closely at the environment, its surfaces, its designs, its colours, its forms, its cavities, its traces, its feelings and its stories. Coming out of the traditional, and conventional, landscape genre, Scanning Landscape maps in an anthropological way the mutual and reciprocal relationship between the community and the environment, as if the lifeblood of the forest crossed the city, bringing life back to its stones and, equally, in the middle of the forest, people could come and go and meet and be together. Emerging, gesturally and technically (through rubbings, water transfer prints, photographic collages, sculptures and material art), from traditional frames, although with an arbitrary and present approach, Hasaj brings to the forefront a perspective of the remote future that reflects on the ancient relationship with space and its elements, comparing ancient practices with usable models of life.

 

The Grey Hour and Scanning Landscape therefore commemorate and treasure all those moments that evoke an elsewhere. It is true that the other place frightens, insinuates the attempt to escape, it is inaccessible to us. Yet crossing it, understanding its colours and shapes, and finding expression in its nuances is possible: Valentina Gelain and Bekim Hasaj prove it by building a narrative that is capable of giving an order to things, that helps to reveal their meaning, leaving space for acceptance. Pragmatic, abstract, sensational and errant: overcoming the initial disorientation, Dripping Cavities puts us in the condition of learning to be elsewhere, getting to know it and to know ourselves, favouring the encounter with our inner reality.

 

 

Elsa Barbieri

Dripping Cavities, art exhibition by Bekim Hasaj & Valentina Gelain

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