Pain is the tear through which the wholly other can enter.
– Byung-Chul Han, The Palliative Society
We have all experienced love and disappointment in our lives; we have felt unbounded happiness and equally great pain of loss. I believe that the ability to feel is one of the great blessings of the human condition. For some reason, however, the realm of feelings is concidered inferior to thinking; it is seen as something untamed and inexplicable. On the other side, emotions tend to be dragged from the body to the head and overexplained. However, an explanation can instantly turn into a trap and a source of conflict, because although we all share the experience of being alive, we each interpret and organise it in our own way. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how much happiness and insight emotions can bring, and how much conflict and damage can be caused by words.
Take, for instance, words like “love”, “home”, “friendship” or “grief”. We all know what they mean, but I have yet to hear any comprehensive explanation that really sums up what they truly are. These words are conditional, their content is almost inexplicable. We should not forget that these are words that are “right” or “wrong”, they run into difficulty or cope, whereas emotions just are.
I too have felt grief. Even now, using this word makes it raise its head in me again. I can feel its silent sting somewhere deep inside me. I remember the time when my grief was so great that it engulfed me completely. And I know it will return to haunt me again someday. However, this exhibition is not about me or my grief. This is Hanna Samoson’s exhibition. How could I ever describe to you what she has experienced?
We are all familiar with the image of a suffering artist. Throughout history, the genius of one author or another, the intensity of their work, has been justified by (mental) illness, loss, poverty or some other great obstacle in their lives. Indeed, pain is the door through which the other can enter, but I refuse to acknowledge the convenient and simplistic statement that it is pain that makes someone a great artist. Above all, it makes someone a person. And if we are lucky, that person happens to be an artist who can take their intense experience, learn something from it and share it with the rest of the world.
Hanna Samoson is not a suffering artist, but a curious, empathetic and caring person. After her loss, she set her sights on reconciliation, deciding to give up everything superfluous and strive for a state where nothing is redundant, but nothing is lacking, either. During the year leading up to this exhibition, she has been constantly documenting her life and activities. As viewers we have the opportunity to accompany her on this journey towards ascetic abundance.
That is how human mind is: when you show two pictures or objects to it, it will tell you a whole long story. Our brains love narratives, stimulating beginnings and satisfying endings. A mind that is currently in the midst of working through an intense feeling is especially hungry for such stories and meanings. After all, everything that gets in the way can become the last missing keystone. Something that finally explains this inexplicable and all-encompassing emotion.
On her journey Hanna encounters various people and animals, experiences powerful natural phenomena and other seemingly small but magical coincidences. Looking at these in a specific order here in the pavilion, it seems that Magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all is an exhibition about a great flood inside a person caused by a great loss and coming to terms with it, letting go of the the previous world order and building a new world from the ruins of the past life.
But what do I know? This is just a story that starts unrolling in my head.