Fruzsi Kovai, beeldend kunstenaar, openende zondag 12 februari de tentoonstelling 'Vruchtlichaam' van Lin Gerritse. Hieronder kun je haar voordracht (in het engels) nalezen.
What is a morgue?
The morgue is a place where people wouldn’t go, unless they work in the hospital, or they are relatives of the dead person who needs to be identified.
What comes to mind when we think of the morgue?
It is usually located in the part of the hospital which is not suitable for any other function. It is a closed, dark, cold, silent, sterile space, because we keep there something we don't want to see or know about. What do we keep there? The secret that we cannot face: that we’ll all once die, and that we’ll lose all the qualities that made us human. Probably the most unbearable is that even our lifeless body, the only thing that remains of us after death, is also perishable.
Het Vruchtlichaam | Lin Gerritse
Lin’s sculptures function in a very curious way, especially the ones displayed in this installation. Their impact is two-fold. On the one hand, they make you feel that you are being an observer of dead bodies in a morgue. On the other hand, they overcome most of the negative and frightening effects of the morgue or, at least, transform them by attributing them revolutionary new meanings.
What are the key elements of Lin’s artistic practice which enable this mechanism? Which are those features of the works that bring about the morgue’s atmosphere and which are the ones that turn it into something else?
If we look at the installation, we are easily led to believe that Lin works with bodies in decay, but then we suddenly notice that these bodies are built of living matter.
It's clear that Lin is a sculptor, but his approach is highly unconventional.
He is a sculptor in the sense that he is giving shape.
But what does this mean in Lin’s case? – It means giving shape to a certain living matter for that it create itself through this shape.
But what shape could be the right one to offer to a living matter for that it can articulate itself?
And what is Lin’s shape-giving practice?
Weeks before the show starts, Lin offers a cast of his own body to the myceliums to grow inside, until they fill the cast, including its smallest details. Until they create the shape of his body. At this stage, which I would call the “incubator stage”, the cast functions as a protective space for the fungi. They can do whatever they want inside, but they are bound to stay inside their incubator’s boundaries.
Fruzsi Kovai | opening 'Het Vruchtlichaam'
The show begins when Lin is ready with his fungus clones – this is the “stage of the performance”. It starts when the fungi grow big and strong enough (created in the image of their creator) to leave the cast, their incubator, to develop and blossom freely, beyond the boundaries of their creator`s body.
Lin’s practice is similar to that of the gardener, but also to that of the theatrical director or choreographer. He is a gardener in the sense that he grows living matter, and takes good care of it. And he is a director in the sense that he works in cooperation with the fungus, by creating the frame, the context and the appropriate conditions for them, but then lets them do their performance alone.
This practice reminds me of the so-called dance exhibitions, performances, or “constructed situations”, with Tino Sehgal’s term, taking place inside big museums, which are usually long, time-based artworks, sometimes taking up the whole day, filling the opening hours of the museums. Their viewers usually don't see the whole piece, just fragments of it.
Lin’s sculptures are always changing, probably they have already changed since I read my previous paragraph, but of course their dynamics, little motions are incomparably slower than even the slowest dance of human performers.
Now, I would like to concentrate on the mode of installation itself.
I often ask myself which gesture is the right one, the more meaningful or the more challenging one: to install a living sculpture inside an exhibition space (which we probably cannot call white cube anymore), or at an outdoor site (in a park or a forest), or in a space in between, like a sculpture garden? Each gesture has its own significance, but also shortcomings.
As we can see, Lin had decided to show his works indoors, probably to create a contrast between the sculptures and their environment, and to highlight that it’s a living organism which is capable of repelling the gaze that wants to objectify them.
In the case of this exhibition the contrast between the indoor space and the works is highlighted by the installation in the following way. The installation invokes most noticeably the morgue’s atmosphere, thereby inciting us to see the sculptures as dead bodies. Now dead bodies, especially if they are unidentifiable, literally mean objectified humans. But this provocation of the objectified bodies is being unveiled, or even turned into its opposite, once we notice the works’ living, changing, and blossoming nature, which makes it evident that we have to abandon our usual way of perceiving. And from this stage on, it becomes obvious that we experience the blossoming bodies on the model of the slowest performers of the new era of dance exhibitions.
d.d. 12 februari 2023
De tentoonstelling 'Vruchtlichaam' is nog te zien tot en met 12 maart