Calendar update: Solvent 3 exhibition will debut on October 8 at Second Floor Gallery. Opening reception: 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm.
Below, resident-writer Jason Parry discusses Solvent’s upcoming exhibition ideas, contexts, and plans (i.e. future ruins).
“The ruin,” writes Derrida, “does not supervene like an accident upon a monument that was intact only yesterday. In the beginning there is ruin” (Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins). Our experiential realities are daily defined by a navigation of and a propagation of ruins. Though St. John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word,” the arche he seeks to establish with language is purely illusory (John 1:1). For even God needs his translators, and the foundations of language, which may at first seem so stable, are in reality no more secure than the thousands of exploded fallacies which have been expressed through language. This perceived solidity is continually undermined by the per diem abuse of every sign, word and signal we employ to give voice to the subjective experience. By calling attention to this fragility, the exhibition “We Are Ruins” will attempt to confront the ontological problem of the ruin, and affirm the delicate beauty of experience in what Martin Heidegger called a “being toward death” (Being & Time, 235).
Art, being in many ways the most highly touted artifice of man, is singularly suited to comment on the problem of ruins. The simple act of observing art is a violent one, for there is in every viewer a pictorial legacy that floods the image with associations, thereby destroying both the original intent of the artist and any hope for an unsullied aesthetic reaction. “We Are Ruins” would anticipate this effect, and would display a new approach to art, an art-in-itself, that would preempt the unconscious deconstruction of the viewer by engaging in its own deconstruction. In practice, the exhibition would consist of a projected video, distorted and fragmented by means of mirrors and scrims, surrounded by walls transformed into a palimpsest of layered images. These layers would be exposed at different points, providing for an ongoing recontextualization of each image throughout the exhibition. Just as uncommissioned street art adds new meaning to what it overlays, the mangled images on display would shape each other’s messages in a reciprocal relationship—manifesting visually the unconscious process of dismemberment that characterizes all interpretation.
As ruins are a byproduct of futurity, they are inescapable. Just as Jacques Derrida pointed out, there is no prelapsarian condition from which structures fall into ruin; the hermeneutical nature of human understanding is permeated by ruins and, because of this, is only capable of creating ruins. Residue and wreckage are the daily bread of consciousness. However, lest this conception be mistaken for nihilism, I shall defer to Dr. Eduardo Cadava, who says: “we can only love what is mortal. Love therefore means loving ruins, loving what we can lose at any moment, loving what is finite” (“Irresistible Dictations” 9). The essential incompleteness of being is what facilitates love; without it, humanity is stranded on the barren beaches of eternity. “We Are Ruins” is therefore not only an experiment in the unveiling of unconscious analytic procedures, but a meditation on the magnificence of our ephemerality.