Black Matter & Golden Door

- Barbara Polla interprets a performative and guided walk by Per Huttner.

The day starts with waking up and looking at one’s surroundings – at the world. One may wake up bad, or wake up with sun and smile. However you wake up, the world will respond to you and feedback and question: what are your perspectives on life and why? The world acts upon you and you act upon the world.

1. The window show
This particular visit starts with walking and finding yourself in front of a window, down in the metro station. An exhibition in a window, where you see objects that cut (whether hair, skin, wood, bread…) and ask yourself: are these objects or art works? What is the difference, and does it make a difference, whether they are objects or artworks? If yes, which difference?

As Jean-Yves Gerard states [sic.] in Mustard (Clock), talking about “linear logic”: “Unless we had understood that the knife could heal as well as hurt, there would be no surgery.” And indeed, creativity and problem solving is about finding new perspectives in known situations. The project An Infinite Love is definitively about that: change our perspective. Surgery is a good example for that: indeed, before the industrial revolution, surgeons could not overcome three main obstacles to successful surgery: bleeding, pain and infection. To overcome each of those, medical science had to find new perspectives: anesthesia one the one hand, and antisepsis on the other, were two major ways to change perspective.

2. The Gate
When after the window show, that is open to all eyes, the visitors arrive at Konstnärshuset, in front of its golden door that functions like a gate, many questionings arise. What is this gate? What happens behind that gate? Was this once upon a time a Jewish school? What kind of mystery is hidden here? The very existence of a mystery is actually generated by our own openness to its possibility. The very existence of mysteries indeed requires a complex ensemble of our memories, our imagination, curiosity, inspiration, together with some reality. Looking at Konstnärshuset, one sees its beautiful façade, that immediately triggers one’s expectation, one’s imagination of a journey – the journey inside Konstnärshuset and its exhibitions. On the other side of the Golden Door is another universe: an exhibition, a journey to the stars.

But what does the place really looked like?

The visitors are invited to take a moment to think about what they imagine the exhibition to be like. When they leave the exhibition, they try to remember what they initially had imagined – because indeed, what they had imagined before will somehow be retained after the visit.

3. Concepts of death and rebirth
At this point, many thoughts about death come to one’s mind. Death that in our occidental cultures has become an essentially hidden part of our lives – as opposed to Africa for example, or Haiti, where death is considered as a “live” part of life. The entrance through the golden gate of Konstnärshuset is reminiscent of the frightening possibility to enter an “underworld”. In all cosmologies, whatever the culture, the underworld includes the subterranean worlds where “live” the dead. With this in mind, we may consider surgery as a technical postponement of certain types of deaths. The modern hospitals are places where people hide from death and surgery is part of our civilizational refusal to be looking at death with open eyes and minds, while in very poor countries, death is always present, in the families, in the homes – and not only remotely in hospitals – and this profoundly alters one’s perspective onto death – and rebirth.

Rebirth is an essential concept throughout our civilization – I am referring in particular to Demeter, Persephone, to the spring, and the mythology of Eleusis. These ancient myths are a way to pay homage to those who have gone, to the ancestors, to express gratitude towards those who came before – gratitude for what we have – overlooking for once what we lack. Visitors are invited to take a moment to think about what they are grateful for in their life, at this very moment.
These kind of thoughts and reflections might change our outlook. Of course, this does not mean that we can overcome death. But it rationally re-introduces death in the everyday. Maybe its presence in the everyday can allow us a more healthy relationship to death? At this stage, in direct relationship to “An infinite love”, we would like to ask the doctors/surgeons present, what death’s presence in their very every day changes in their lives?

4. Truth, lies, enigmas and the trickster
Who tells the truth? Who lies? Why lie? Where does the trust come from? it appears that the real difference between truth and lies in not so much the content but the intention. What did mother say? “Do not lie”. It is easy to say “do not lie”. But if we accept a more complex understanding and non-binary relation to truth and falsehood, can we defend ourselves better against the lies that are said with the wrong intention? Somehow the question truth/lie is not relevant anymore : the intention remains the determinant.

As an example, all artists lie. Invention/creation is fundamentally lying. As it says in Hamlet, “He who always speak truth leaves no room for interpretation.” Interpretation is essential. Amleth (the inspiration for Hamlet) is a kind of “trickster”, mixing truth and confabulation. In “A Clockwork Orange”, Anthony Burgess wrote: “If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange — meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with color and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil…” We definitively favor a non-binary relationship to truth and lies.

And remember please: many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, and surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth.

To the visitor, end words by Per Hüttner:  “I am very glad that we could undertake this journey together. I hope that you can draw inspiration and satisfaction from the experience.”