What does the concept of Other mean in the context of the Cloud Forest and that of the exhibition?
The Other can be nature itself, as in matter, human or nonhuman beings, but Other are the systems of society as well, or any systems of life that overwhelm us.
If we want to thoroughly understand the idea, we have to grasp its essence from the beginnings: when a human comes into the world. After the symbiotic period with the mother when we are still one with the world, the moment of birth brings radical changes. The perceived realm is broken into two: human and world, individual and surroundings, Me and Other. With time, the Other is differentiated: the child learns to distinguish the mother from the rest of the environment, the object from he mother, an object from other objects, a person from other people. But the experience of Other remains with us until the end of our lives – because after the feeling of Whole and Completeness we were left alone. The feeling overwhelms us when we meet something strange, something beyond us, something that overwhelms us, or something we can’t understand. Szász Sándor works with these effects, whether he uses them in connection to the systems of nature, those of society or those of time.
The systems of nature become foreign to the viewer if matter is put under pressure or forced in any way – as happens in the case of the sphere-formations of the room on the side. Matter shows signs of agency, and the spheres order themselves into concrete formations. Even the aesthetic category of the sublime, although a frequent quality in nature, surpasses the human world and this, too, can lead to tension. The systems of society and the activity of human communities are, in most cases, in conflict with what we call forces of nature, and thus, confrontation and fight ensues.
The feeling of Other appears in human systems as well. The automatisms of society, of industrial or political systems hold power over us and they can shock us with their inhumane nature – they can function on their own, without human consent, sometimes even without us noticing. The visions of the entrance room of the exhibition weave images of different societal systems together with dreams and the fragmentariness of human memory, and this world gets a more dramatic edge in the installation of the inside room, all the while keeping its surreal and bizarre character too. The “cemetery of work” seen here is partly the result of industrialization which interrupted the organic development of crafts, but the authoritarian systems of communism also causes work to die off: it becomes schematic and meaningless.
Lastly, in the upstairs space we can find out how the interventions of an autocratic power can impact human memory and soul. The artist creates the poetic symbol of the bird-man, who wants to escape but can’t, is present in the situation but still wants to hide. This group of works is bound together by a personal narrative, but the narrative of a local community as well, completed and further concretized by the literary text of Dragomán György.
I invite you to discover these unique and familiar perspectives, and consider the potential they hold: the foreign glimpse of the Anthropocene is a little unsettling, a little distant, but it can shake us up, dispel our cozy dreams and refresh our entrenched thoughts.
Ungvári-Zrínyi Kata, Curator