The Depot Artspace
28 June – 10 July 2008
SUSPENDING THE UNSTOPPABLE
“Begin with a glimpse of a form, then let chance play its role”, writes Bechir Kenzari.
This series of Ivan Mršić’s works applies the same mechanics; the artist, sensing a possible form, starts with throwing coffee ground residue on a white surface, then randomness takes over, creating configurations, contours, patterns. The process is nonlinear, the logic behind it postconventional.
The similarity with tasseomancy, the practice of fortune telling by reading coffee grounds, albeit conveying the artist’s personal and emotional sense of belonging to an ancient tradition and its methods for anchoring time in the light of accumulated experiences, is intentionally limited. It is restricted to the utilisation of the same medium (coffee) and the same background colour of the tasseomantic practice – the white of the Perspex, the white of the coffee cup. The result of such an approach is substantially different from the traditional attempt to satisfy the human desire for understanding the self by probing into the subconscious and interpreting the emerging symbols; the intention of the artist is not to offer a divinatory function disguised in an art form, a solution in an aesthetically intriguing package, but to provide a platform at the service of the invisible that it’s not relying on its beginnings, but staying alive in the present moment, mirroring, functioning as a stepping stone in the constant flow of time.
It is not the Jungian “collective unconscious” lubricating the bearings, it is not the territory of the archetypal; it is a direct experience of the flux, awaiting perspectives of the observers to make it complete, at least for a moment, before dissolving into a new pattern.
The primordial imprints (and thus the possibility of their decoding) are omitted by the very act of conscious creative limitation; it is the randomness of the free-fall that concludes the flight.
For the artist here, the working process stops when the unpredictable takes over; at that moment, in Kandinsky’s words, the work “detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life”. The audience is confronted with vaporous, veiled structures, reliefs of domains bordering the spheres of the invisible. The delicacy of the works, of the subtle contours intuitively stopped in the moment, also confirms that the creative take-off is not alluding to possible underlying symbols, but offering a fresh, unobstructed position for observing the current disposition of the particles and its aesthetic charge.
Adumbrations are on display, pointing towards individual interpretations, ready to evolve into a successive configuration as soon as the chemistry of the current formation is grasped. The patterns, inevitably, trigger a sense of connectedness before dissolving into the next configuration.
The observer gets inside the landscapes of the dark brown grind, developing his own ties with the experience, continuing where the artist had stopped himself. The ethereal wrapping of the background (foggy white? milky dense? penetrating or just waiting?) is palpable behind the perspectives that the viewers project upon the works. Intuition, the same that started the creative process, is now at work through the eyes of the observers.
The experience completes its cycle, leaving just vague memories, reminders of the ever changing nature of our presence in time, filtered through the relative aesthetic perception of the work. The hand throwing the dark brown particles into the air has thus reached its goal, transmitting the common, universal uncertainty, our very own volatility which we experience when faced with the opportunity to determine the fleeting moment.
Randomness, a tool used in this series of works to round up the creative input of the artist, is usually perceived as a force pertaining to the realms of chaos, the expanses of the uncontrollable, its activity being unsettling, extrinsic to our perception of reality. It’s a method defying all methods, a space where order and individual influence disappear, leaving no foothold.
But is it really so? Or is it a calming, reassuring pleasure of the extratemporal tranquillity that we notice in the interplay of the dark patterns and the stable, unavoidable whiteness?
Alessandro Baricco, another artist shaping similar ephemeral dimensions as Ivan Mršić (but in a different medium), has some soothing words for those not willing to accept temporality, both in art and in their selves: “What do you mean by chance?… Do you really think anything happens by chance?”