The workshop/exhibition of color pigment extracting from natural materials at the residency program “Skete of Savvaļa” by Inga Meldere and Mikko Hintz, open-air exhibition place Savvaļa. Artwork location - venue place “White Cube”. Dates: July 16 and throughout the summer of 2023.
But it was in vain that I lingered before the hawthorns, to breathe in, to marshal! before my mind (which knew not what to make of it), to lose in order to rediscover their invisible and unchanging odour, to absorb myself in the rhythm which disposed their flowers here and there with the light-heartedness of youth, and at intervals as unexpected as certain intervals of music; they offered me an indefinite continuation of the same charm, in an inexhaustible profusion, but without letting me delve into it any more deeply, like those melodies which one can play over a hundred times in succession without coming any nearer to their secret. In this fragment, the young hero of Proust’s novel Du côté de chez Swann (or “Swan’s Way” in English translation) is trying to communicate with the blossoming hawthorns. But he can’t get the message, maybe because Western culture has ignored non-human beings, animals, and plants for so long.
Plants may acquire artistic agency in collaboration with artists who are attentive and eager to engage in more-than-human relationships. An example of such an attitude and attentiveness to local Latvian plants is the creative workshop/exhibition of color pigment extraction from natural materials by Inga Meldere and Mikko Hintz. It also means the change of our human subjectivity, or, using the words of Rosi Braidotti from her book “The Posthuman,” As a brand of vital materialism, posthuman theory contests the arrogance of anthropocentrism and the ‘exceptionalism’ of the Human as a transcendental category. It strikes instead an alliance with the productive and immanent force of zoe, or life in its non-human aspects. This requires a mutation of our shared understanding of what it means to think at all, let alone think critically. To think at all or to think artistically and in a participatory way here means to engage in the process of extracting pigments from natural everyday materials, like trees, mushrooms, vegetables, and flowers. It questions the notion of male genius, which is the artistic counterpart of heroic political action, and challenges the myth of art production as a realm of magical authorship, connoisseur expertise, and techniques available only to “true masters”. There are no pictures hanging on the walls of a museum as a white cube – the white cube here is a tent in the wild, and the work table for pigment extraction is the true artwork.
Text: Jānis Taurens
Photos: Aleksejs Beļeckis, Annemarija Gulbe, Pēteris Vīksna
Support: Vidzeme planing region, VKKF, Frame Contemporary Finland