open until June 4th
curator: Ingrid Ruudi
Contemporary Art Museum, Estonia
Dénes Farkas’ personal exhibition How-to-calm-yourself-after-seeing-a-dead-body Techniques focuses on issues of choice, uncertainty, insecurity and preparedness, highlighting the contingency of normality and casting doubt on the production of truth and scientific rationality.
The exhibition comprises of site-speficic spatial and audio installations and new works using photographic and textual material. The exhibition is inspired by the novel An Unneccessary Woman by Lebanese-American writer Rabih Alameddine, also a source of the quote used as the title of the exhibition. The book presents an inner monologue of an elderly woman who, unbeknownst to all, has decided to devote herself to translating Western literature to Arabic – a process providing an opportunity for intellectual dialogue and establishing a personal alternative reality in the midst of the chaos of Lebanese civil war. Farkas uses quotes from Alameddine’s book, set in dialogue with visual material photographed at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Nowray, at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) seed bank in Terbol, Lebanon, and at the N.I.Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources in St Petersburg, Russia – institutions established for preserving biodiversity and guaranteeing global food security. Both the visual and textual inspirations of the works refer to food for the body and food for thought, processes of adaptation, and an attempt at keeping up normalcy under the conditions of insecurity; but they also reveal the deceptiveness, fragility and contingency of temporary feeling of security. At the same time, the preapocalyptic feeling of preparing for unknkown future hardships and the rigid scientific approach of the seed banks contrasts with the commonplace of the horror of real conflicts; the eloquence of global rhetorics contrasts with the pragmatics of everyday actions. As a self-conscious artist, Dénes Farkas also addresses the ethical question of using someone else’s conflicts and suffering as raw material for his work. Nevertheless, by interweaving stories from such different sources he aims at a more universal level, conveying an idiosyncratically melancholic message about casuality of tragedy, of history repeating itself, and of futility of human ambition.
Dénes Farkas (b 1974) is a photography and installation artist mainly focusing on critique of visual representation, relationship of image and text, and the aspect of social determination in human experience.
Ingrid Ruudi (b 1978) is an architecture historian, critic and curator interested in intersections of architecture and art and their relation to social and public space.
Graphic design: Stuudio Stuudio
The project is supported by: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonian Artists’ Association and Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center.