Margaret Lansink – Concept of Ma and Elisa Strinna – Blind Sun
Elisa Strinna, Margaret Lansink
Nov 5 - Dec 24
Opening on Friday Nov. 5, 18 - 21 hrs
“In the past – and still today, in some non-modern cultures — Nature was conceived as a living entity. As a place where it was possible to experience the sacred, the mystery of existence. Recognizing the sacred in the natural – outside the self – man could also perceive it inside <…> accepting the unknown as a founding component of existence.”
— Elisa Strinna
The bridging link between the artists Margaret Lansink and Elisa Strinna is their fascination with the unknown, the temporality, and the mystical sacrality of the natural world. For Lansink, this is found in the Japanese idea of ‘ma’, manifested through the imagery of undisturbed Japanese landscape. Contemplating on the mystery of the pause in time, an interval in space, the artist looks at sources from which reality can grow. Elisa Strinna’s presentation offers a poetic gaze on nature and its mysterious elements that exist on the borders of temporality. The exhibition shows her modern-day sculptures of the creatures that could have been found in ancient times. They resemble either primitive forms of life or unusual kinds of fossils and bring together organic life with the artificial human intervention in it.
Concept of Ma
The presented series Concept of Ma by Margaret Lansink speaks about life as a place of vulnerability and about recognising reality as a complex ecosystem of possibilities. The photographer opposes the Western approach to life with its fixed boundaries and defined edges to the more open, intuitive take on the matter.
The series Concept of Ma was created at the end of 2019, after Lansink’s residency at Benrido’s Collotype Atelier in Kyoto. She stayed at the Lake Kussharo – home grounds for the Ainu people, an indigenous tribe of Japan – and this is where the project was born. Moved by the naked beauty of the local landscape, the photographer connected to the natively Japanese concept of ‘Ma’. ‘Ma’ is commonly described as a pause in time, an interval or emptiness in space.
In this series of images of still Japanese nature, Lansink explores if a pause entails emptiness or if space holds a promise of growth. According to the dictionaries, the Japanese ‘ma’ translates as ‘space’. Linguistically, though, ‘ma’ is often used in phrases to mark stretches of time. Thus ‘time’ is expressed in Japanese as ‘space in flow’, making time a dimension of space. Culturally, ‘ma’ refers to the artistic interpretation of nothingness, often holding as much importance as the rest of an artwork. Lansink’s photographs aim to show that the so-called negative space, the empty space, is a part of a whole of a bigger picture.
Concept of Ma poses a question — does this intuitive understanding of empty space/time open any doors to the new landscapes? The natural tranquility within Lansink’s photography serves as a space for contemplation. The poetic atmospheres she creates might lead to imagining other dimensions of life. A reverie, a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts.
In Blind Sun, Elisa Strinna investigates and creates mysterious ecosystems in places between the sun to the oceanic abyss. A starting point for this project was the artist’s observation of the interaction between organic life and human infrastructures, and a study of different natural forces — such as gravity or wind, in creating the structure of geological components, like stones or meteorites. The resulting microcosms that Strinna creates are attempts to refocus our attention onto the potentially infinite and obscure dimensions of our planet.
Blind Sun brings together material forms whose temporality is undetermined. Strinna’s sculptures resemble fossils and primitive biological species; at the same time, they cohabitate with modern-day technology. One of the ecosystems is called the Hadean Territory, metaphorically referring to the Hadean period: the era when the solar system was forming within a cloud of dust and gas, an enigmatic period for science till this day. For Elisa Strinna, that time is as mysterious as the bottom of the ocean, both are spaces that human ingenuity cannot reach.
The ocean floor is strewn with underwater cables. What we refer to as the “cloud” in the digital world is in fact conducted underwater — a transatlantic fiber-optic network that supports a global information transmission system. A submerged landscape, hardly reachable for the human eye. It exists in a temporal porosity that might evoke a certain feeling of nostalgia. Under the influence of the abyss — reveals a new, hybrid territory where artificial and natural merge. In this space, the undersea cables lose their industrial design to become one with the sea anemones and sponges. In particular, the sea anemone Metridium farcimen and the sponge phylum Porifera. These creatures have been discovered to follow the fibers, even when they are buried under the sand. As if they were attracted by the electromagnetic fields produced by the human-made conductors.
At Galerie Caroline O’Breen, Strinna presents a fraction of this ever-growing (2019-2021) fictional ecosystem where remote/unseen relationships between the natural and the artificial are disclosed. This project has been previously exhibited at the Jan Van Eyck Open Studios (2019, NL), Fidelidade Arte (2019, PT), Culturgest Porto (2020, PT), and at A Tale of a Tub (2021, NL).