“ My shadow has gone mad… he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow. ”
« The Shadow » by Hans Christian Andersen, 1847
Financial crises, terrorist attacks, conspiracy theories, ubiquitous surveillance, the Internet of Things (IoT) generate global and massive alarms. We are afraid of pandemics, nuclear holocaust, ecological Armageddon or in a panic about shadow governance and how the algorithms will rate us tomorrow.
It is not surprising that Olivia Parkes’ works cry: « Time to run! ». Parkes is one of the four young artists Edmond Gallery is pleased to present and who address these tremendously serious questions in a playful but penetrating way.
Flee from the doomed city! Announcing the edge of apocalypse, Parkes’s eerily naive paintings layer references to the conventions and technologies of image-making through time, combining echoes of Quattrocento perspective with ominous and oppressive De Chirico ’s architectures. Parkes reimagines spaces from religious paintings depicting miracles, staging scenes that seem instead to depict the moments before or just after an ambiguous disaster.
Figures flee into black frames that echo a filmstrip. A pink clock throbs on a grey wall that appears in one moment architectural and in another abstract. Is the woman watching from the window an observer, or just a portrait painting – an image of an image within the image? What are these people running from, and what happens when they leave the frame? It is unclear how real we should understand this world to be. It looks strange, unsettling – but we recognize it, somehow, as one of our own making.
Katharina Arndt’s light antidepressant work « My Therapist said » focuses humorously on the lack of safety and loss of control and agency, we may experience in a world exposed to fast technological changes obsessed with transparency. We tweet, post, and snap throughout the day, making sure everyone knows what we’re doing and how we’re feeling at every moment. We live online in a society that banishes the shadow with eyes everywhere. But this hyper-connection has insidious effects. People suffer from the “ spotlight effect ” inducing a kind of paranoia. “ Arndt’s work consists precisely of light sources as well as translucent Plexiglas which has an ephemeral quality also reflected in the ephemerality of the word’s content. It becomes a symbol for the transience of the digital age whose information is intangible and whose longevity is by no means assured “ (Tina Sauerländer ).
Bees are symbiotic, gentle, and productive. Conversely, wasps are predatory, overly defensive, and have an impulse towards violence.
In a play on the very famous Muhammad Ali words as he used to describe his fighting style, William Winter’s installation « Float like a butterfly, sting like a baseball bat » examines the current wasp-like actions of the world's superpowers.
Three wasp nests constructed from the political sections of The New York Times (U.S.A.), Pravda (Russia), and the People's Daily (China), along with gunpowder, steel and flint, embody the anxiety inducing, explosive nature of the current world order.
Next to the nests, a short film acts out two versions of the same reality.
First, we see hives swarming healthily with busy citizens. In the second, a disillusioned steel wasp enters a room and proceeds to smash its head on a stone structure, causing sparks to fly.
This contrast between the vision of a unified, functioning society and the anxious, isolated individual, calls into question which world we are currently living in.
Liang Zhipeng’s installation “ A bit left in the crowd ” sets up a face-to-face meeting with our shadow. It may remind us the art founding myth: Butade’s daughter tracing of a shadow to replace the loss of her beloved one. With current technology it is a kind of traditional Chinese shadow puppetry show in which we are involuntary the puppets.
It provocatively captures our shadow as a projection of our unconscious dark side, giving an amusing illustration of identity anguish and parasitic dispossession. The shadow becoming independent, an alienating double of the self.
In this sense it refers less to Plato’s allegory of the Cave than to famous Peter Schlemihlhistory. Did we sell our shadow to the Devil? Are our governments like shadow puppeteers ? Is it the mystery of the Freudian object, whose lack throws its shadow on the Ich of the subject? It may also be about migrants who have lost country, language and context. They are like our shadowy doubles, feared like intruding aliens because they remind us of our own precariousness. So that more and more people run away to take refuge in a paranoid fear of others.
This work commits us to explore the numerous ambiguous meanings of shadow, the hidden power and the potential of creativity of the dark side of human nature. It will certainly save you many hours on a shrinks 's couch.