An old nun steps out of the abbey after years of isolation. Perhaps she is on a mission. She meets two strangers. What does one see and think of the world outside the walls of the abbey after years of living in one religious utopia? What doubts does she meet in herself and what can she share with those two strangers?
In nowadays society the Nun stands out as a representation of several alternative values, whereas centuries ago she might have been the role model of values. Today the Nun, who lives in celibacy and without materialistic needs, becomes a sort of alien Other in contrast with western market-driven society.
In this show we will inhabit the role of the Nun, to see what aspects of ourselves we can discover and merge with. By getting closer and contorting the image of the Nun, we aim to create a figure in-between the Nun and ourselves, between the stranger and ourselves.
We approach the Nun as a metaphor for ‘isolation’ in the pandemic and at the same time we approach the process of becoming a stranger to oneself.
In our investigation we ended up in a garden. An Archival Garden of thoughts and figures.
I went to walk on the ice that day. 843 steps.
A wide-spread garden.
Where ants were dreaming.
I let myself indulge in my obsession with digging.
A metallic moving pipe. One eye and a body of a swan. One feather acid green.
It invited me to look through its huge big eye.
I stepped inside that head that day. Soft and rather warm.
A distant swirl and gurgle of water.
Grandma would go out to the backyard with bottles and bury them halfway, with the whole neck underground.
How I liked that bond that had never been broken.
The water gave a hiss, covering the ground in a wet mud carpet.
An oval-shaped stone, apple-green, the size of a small baby.
There it was, the spirit of a volcano and its body.
An ant acting like a propeller, repeatedly, teaching language and building techniques to a group of girls.
The rain stopped. I filled up puddles into small lakes.
Boy, did I dig. And boy, did I whistle.
Madlen Hirtentreu works mainly with sculpture, installations and performances. Primal horizon, brutality, repetition and clinical conditions intrigue her, a tiny dose of each might be the recipe. The eeriness of the unknown which in close up reveals signs of fragility by opening up new readings and meanings in untied time. Her technique can be described as a Frankenstein-like combination of technology and body horror, where the abject and the mechanical system function as a unified tandem. The absurd, seemingly messy and eclectic choice of material serves as a document and carrier of emotions.
Gloria Hao works with sculpture and installation, and deals with the relationship between the human and the Other body, and the nature of the Other itself, as in: the stranger, the animal, the primitive being. The work dedicates itself to this liminal, unstable space and body of boundaries, where gestures of violence, lust and desire are residing and being re-drawn. Aesthetically, she employ a maximalistic approach, a rich register of contrasts and negotiates given terms of beauty and ugliness. The outcome is often ambiguous, lush and distorting concepts.
Madlen Hirtentreu and Gloria Hao both address the duality between inner other self and outside other, primal zone, and recurringly dwell in peripheral zones of society, through which they hope to unveil a possibly lost utopia or simply, find stages between subject and object, between the stranger as a outside continuation and the one inside, in order to open up for estranged natures and alternative readings of futures.
Thank you: Eesti Kultuurkapital, Taadu Jaan, Alissa Šnaider
Exhibition by Gloria Hao & Madlen Hirtentreu
Title: Lost Future Figure. Oh whistle, and I’ll come to you, my friend
Draakon Gallery, Pikk 18, Tallinn.
Mon-Fri 11.00-18.00, Sat 11.00-17.00
Photos by Alissa Šnaider