When I was a young person I went to the university and I learned a rational language, to think with the left side of the brain. But in the right side of the brain you have intuition and imagination. Words are not the truth; they indicate the way to go, but you need to go alone, in silence. Symbols have a language that kills the words.
– Alejandro Jodorowsky
We form stories that could have happened and that can possibly happen. We play that today’s social order, existing rules and economic system are dislocated. The time axis is upside down – linearity as well as the growth and profit ideals are neglected. We recall the cultural layers from the past and allow sharpened sensations as well as stimulated imagination. We enjoy the affective charge that raises from the experience of existing as a human being while keeping in mind that human knowledge about the world is limited.
Is it possible to make a way and build ideas for transforming the ethical and political world if we’d take imagination, play and ability to value the unexpected excursions arising from errors next to our five senses and rational approach to living? How to reach ideas and acts that are not yet existing while the knowledge about the better state of things seems to be right here – in literature, art, philosophy.
The people, animals and other beings depicted on the artwork by Czech painter Denisa Štefanigova are intermingled, blended into each other, playful and without explicit plastic form. The artist has removed the dichotomy and opposition between the man and the animal, nature and technology, desire and anger, rational and emotional. Štefanigova has painted beings from various species who interact with each other while referring to possible forms of co-existence where the dominance of a man has been disregarded and cross-species cohabitation and understanding is the new reality. The artist’s work reflects more consistent functioning where no living being is separated nor untouched from others – everyone is connected and related to each other, and the human being is not an exception. Philospher Donna Haraway has defined the abovementioned as „Chthulucene“ – that has been derived from the spider species Pimoa Cthulhu, a spider with extremely long legs. The eight legs seem to represent different points of view and possibilities yet are connected through their distinction and direction – none of the legs won’t function autonomously.
The sculptural installations and videos of the artist duo Lisann Lillevere and Johanna Ruukholm pursue the worldview of Chthulucene while mixing the cognitive orientation prevailing in contemporary society with archaic beliefs and behaviour. The artists aim at blurring the borders between existing meanings, interpretations, cognitive, personal and universal. In their artwork, Lillevere and Ruukholm refer to deep time and for human reason the length of such time is imperceptible – the artists show that the past and the present are inextricably intertwined and the connections are in constant state of flux. Perdition and recreation build new opportunities for reinterpretation and hope. This is a play with fantasy where existing social and ideological beliefs, linear perception of time as well as targeted growth and profit have been neglected.
The artists take a look at forgotten spaces, envision new corners and openings, navigate on the verge of principles, give a chance to mistakes, pleasures and unusual while flirting and intermingling with the present day, pop culture and current issues.
Lisann Lillevere and Johanna Ruukholm are interdisciplinary artist duo who mainly use ceramics and installative spatial interventions in their creative practice. They are intrigued by the world where objects and phenomena are not strictly categorized. The artists describe their artistic practice with the concept of „permaflowing“ while valuing the new ideas and situations arising from changes. The artist duo met during the studies in the MA programme of contemporary art at the Estonian Academy of Arts – both artists were inspired by the idea of nature as an immanent part of a human being as well as conscious distancing from technological reality. Previously, Lisann Lillevere has studied fashion design and photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts and Johanna Ruukholm has obtained BA degree in graphic design in the same university.
Denisa Štefanigová (b. 1995) holds a master’s thesis in Estonian Academy of Arts Contemporary Art Programme. With her last project “Violet, show me how tender you can be? (Shades of Love & Desire & Infidelity & Truth)” the artist reflected on the topic of the sexual life of colors and brushstrokes through paintings, videos and puppets. The topic of sexuality and polyamory is an ongoing interest in Štefanigová’s practice.
Štefanigová previously graduated with a Bachelor degree from the University of Technology, Faculty of Fine Arts (FaVU) in Brno Czechia in 2019. She has also studied in Facultad de Bellas Artes in Bilbao in 2017, and has been on artistic residency in Budapest In Easttopics Gallery (2021) and in Stuttgart in GEDOK Gallery (2018).
Sound of the video work by Johanna Ruukholm and Lisann Lillevere: Nathan Tulve
Video effects: Jakob Tulve
Installation Traction has been completed in collaboration with Joonas Timmi.
Artists: Lisann Lillevere & Johanna Ruukholm, Denisa Štefanigová
Curator: Lilian Hiob