| VAULT |
04.09. - 25.10.2020
Opening Friday September 4th, 14:00 - 20:00
Curated by Malin Barth
The exhibition "From Darkness" by Ulf Lundin is a somber series of portraits. The portrayed do not communicate with the viewer or the artist. It is as if they are shut down, parked in stand by-mode and surrounded by a great stillness. Their gazes make them appear distant and lost. At times we all get lost in the dark. In the upheaval the COVID-19 pandemic creates; we must dare to trust the unknown. Patiently waiting in the dark at times, only later learning what personal or general vision or new energy that might emerge from this cataclysm - in other people, and in the world around us.
Social isolation, quarantine, lockdown and social distancing are all descriptive of a time we will forever remember. All of the above are acts of separation, which cause people to feel distanced from time itself. For a moment the sitters in Lundin´s photographic series have ceased to exist socially. Some have experienced the joy of solitude and others its miseries, but the possibility that both exist escapes no one.
Solitude entails limitation as well as liberation. It manifests itself in a wide variety of forms, and as individuals we represent different personality types. Why does solitude elicit such opposite and strong responses? The extroversion-introversion dichotomy was first explored by Carl Jung in his theory of personality types as a way to describe how people respond and interact with the world around them. The hermit may temporarily withdraw from society. The loner may occasionally interact with other people or completely shy away from human contact. The recluse may rejoice in seclusion. Solitude may have its benefits, but it might come at a greater cost to the extrovert who thrives on social interaction and feel energized after spending time with other people than to the introvert.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be the largest test of political leadership in recent history. All political leaders in the world face the same potential threat. And they all respond differently. His or her choice of words become action, as they demand sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to people’s daily lives. In the Educator´s Book by Sigmund Freud, he eloquently states “Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.” What would be different if the worlds´ leaders used `physical distancing` instead of ´social distancing´ as their preferred term for limiting the risk of spreading the virus.
Looking at terms such as seclusion, aloneness, privacy, secureness, separateness, and solitariness are generally understood as synonyms for the positive attributes of solitude. The words define respective states of solitude. On the other hand, related words such as loneliness, lonesomeness, isolation, quarantine, lockdown, confinement, incarceration differentiate the negative qualities of being alone.
In the ´social-distancing´ forced upon us due to COVID-19; the economy may be a driving force for alienation, while new technologies might steer us to retreat into our digital spaces. It is also important to mention racism as a frequent cause of segregation and isolation that can lead to solitude out of desperation and distress. Religion as well as political beliefs can also become a motivation to retreat, or a low degree of integration due to lack of common values between individuals within society. The solitary person’s existence is thus a liminal one in more respect than one. Liminal entities are neither here nor there, they are between positions assigned and arrayed by law, customs, convention, and tradition. It is not oriented towards escaping the world, but to a different level of participation within it.
Is voluntarily withdrawal a form of narcissistic indulgence and betrayal of humanity? Or is temporary isolation and social distancing a fertile ground for self-knowledge, inner growth, family bonding or for creative output? In short, how can one navigate solitude while still maintaining the link to social order that ensures some measure of balance in the world. A world of post-social-isolation might lead to a greater ability to develop a practice where we give ourselves space through stillness to reflect on relevant questions such as; Where now? Who now? When now?*
The people portrayed by Lundin sit in solitude--in total darkness for half an hour before the artist pulled the trigger on his camera. The artist did this from an adjoining room without seeing the sitter. The kind of space the solitary individual inhabits is unknown. They are faced with a space in which time and place dissolves. We are all in this state of liminality.
These photographic images were first produced in 2002. The work has since been reviewed and placed in a new and current context to reflect our current time. Lundin has also reworked his still images into a new format of projection for Kunsthall 3,14.
*Where now? Who now? When now? are questions posed by Beckett in his book The Unnamable.
Johnny Herbert in conversation with Ulf Lundin >>>