Ellöh presents 4 images of disintegrating fruit and vegetables crossing with the human experience, bearing all the signs of decay, deconstruction, and utter lifelessness. They are carefully nailed on the outer space grey wall, situated next to the real rotting vegetation dangling from nail hooks. These works and exhibition decoration perfectly capture the essence of death in everyday situations – the decomposition of vibrant colour to black and solid form to shriveling demise. These objects are ticking time bombs of nature, waiting to lose their nutrients, slowly desolving into nothing but a memory of growth, a now withered symbol of existence. Miroiu uses her medium to explore Heidegger’s philosophy of death, his binaries of falling and fleeing, anxiety and fear, and authentic and inauthentic. For me, her work embodies Heidegger’s understanding of being-at-an-end and being-towards-an-end.
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Exhibition Review by Remy Low
Hell, Jean-Paul Sartre tells us, is other people. What the doyen of French existentialism wanted to express in this infamous line from his acclaimed play “No Exit” is the experience of being seen by others. In our everyday lives, we inhabit our bodies and our routines without much thought. We are, in large part, our bodies and routines: getting out of bed, filling a glass at the tap, scratching where we itch. With the appearance of other people, however, we are suddenly thrown back upon ourselves; we become aware of ourselves as objects that appear to others whether real or imagined. In short, we become self-conscious.
What, then, are we to make of the experience of contemporary urban life in advanced industrial societies where the bodies of young workers, migrants, students and others are inserted in increasing proximity to one another, where the economic forces of gentrification, rising rents and precarious employment combine to hem us into spaces that seem simultaneously constricted and porous?
Photo by Crisia Miroiu
This situation is the focus of Crisia Miroiu’s first solo show – “Room of One’s Own: A Post-Existentialist View on Intimacy” – which offers us ten glimpses of a couple dwelling in a fifteen square metre room for forty-five months. Through her lens, Miroiu reframes the small, physical frame of the couple’s existence by drawing attention to the everyday practices that constitute living relationships between two people, the objects of their daily use and most strikingly, to themselves as objects within that space. Although constriction and perviousness are the theme of the photographs in this exhibition – and one certainly feels the sense of claustrophobia in looking at them – there is also an unmistakable motif of redemption at play here. Emerging from these pictures is the immanent beauty of actions, objects and routines of mundane existence within a fifteen square metre frame, disclosing what Friedrich Nietzsche termed “life as a work of art.” So if indeed
contemporary urban life is a form of Sartrean hell without exit, where our lives are rendered more open to the gaze of others at the same time as the physical spaces we inhabit shrink, then what Miroiu reminds us through her camera is that it is not a hell without its simple graces.