The Intention of Things
Trafo Gallery / BUDAPEST (Hungary)
24.03.2018 – 06.05.2018
When a sardine can looks back, when a piece of stone starts smiling at you, when a mute idol starts to speak, that is the moment when the object suddenly appears as something uncanny and transforms into something else, revealing it’s non-objectifiable depth, as W.J.T. Mitchell writes in his book ‘What Do Pictures Want?’. The ‘thing’ is what is beyond the object, and what we cannot name anymore. There is something nebulous and vague in the ’thing’, it has some kind of hidden, inner power. Jane Bennett in her book The Vibrant Matter. The Political Ecology of Things, writes about ’thing-power’; an “efficacy of object in excess of the human meanings, designs, or purposes they express or serve”. These objects have an effect and impact on the reality that surrounds us and on our perception. There is something disturbing and unsettling in these ’things’, their magical aura and lively character can be approached with aversion and fascination as well. Certain theories (Object Oriented Ontology) consider objects as individual things in an autonomous reality, that are independent from human knowledge; while others see particular objects as products of subjective and superstitious beliefs. The idol, the voodoo, the totem are objects with magical-power; ‘bad objects of imperialism’ as W.J.T. Mitchell calls them. We can also reckon among these the bad objects of globalisation; objects of fetish, smart objects, which can even communicate with each other without our knowledge or will (Internet of things), or objects that can be found on eBay under such categories as ‘Weird Stuff’, ‘Totally Bizarre’, or ‘Other’.
These objects demand a different kind of gaze and attitude from the person who looks at them. A gaze, that denies the usual categories, that can involve emotions, desire or empathy; a gaze that assigns particular value and supernatural power, or some kind of independent inner will to an object. The artworks of the exhibition search for possibilities to look at objects in different ways, and raise questions about the borders between virtual, organic and artificial matters. Furthermore they also question how we are effected by the illusion of accumulating capital; how the changing role of objects influence our everyday (online or offline) life, or what is the impact of the desire dictated by consumer society on our approach towards objects?
Curated by Szalai Borbála