For the ancients, a “symposium” was just a word for “drinking together”—for raising a glass together, as one might at the opening of a gallery exhibition. It was also an interactive yet informal event where people were invited to exchange their contradictory views in a dialogue on a loosely identified subject. Historically, Plato’s Symposium has proven to be the most influential text of its genre. In this—his most famous—dialogue, six speakers are prevailed upon to offer their own speech in praise of the god Eros. For us moderns, much confusion begins here: the very word “Eros” can refer to the Greek god of Love, often represented with wings on his back, or to the emotional feeling of love, or even to an intensely sexual desire. At times it may mean all these things. What is the nature of love? What is the nature of the things love makes us desire? The suggestive power of differing opinions is part of the dialogue’s drama.
At Mia Florentine Weiss’s exhibition “Symposium 3.7” the artist revisits several of the tensions at work in Plato’s dialogue. The anthropological definition that the comic poet Aristophanes offers here of humans as divided beings—rent asunder by the gods for the crime of hybris, and now eternally struggling to track down their other halves—finds expression in the images of an at once nurturing but now lost totality from which all humans derive. The uterus and the incubator—an artificial uterus revealing protection and vulnerability at one and the same time—both touch upon the notion of human fragility following swiftly on the heals of our entrance into the world. Birth is near death in that it annihilates the only environment in which we enjoyed a relative harmony with our surroundings. Both fear and longing are caught in the tension between the sublimely distant notion of art and the curious desire to grasp it in one’s hand and render whole again the being that has been torn in two: “Please do touch! Touching can heal the art” (thus the title of the artist’s performance in an incubator). In an absolutely classical embodiment of a coincidentia oppositorum (a “unity of opposites”) Weiss also reveals the aesthetic ambivalence of love itself. The artist shows us that what we love is what we simultaneously lack and yearn for: from our basic needs to the highest form of beauty.
Wings and the heathen image of the angel—the imagery that made Plato’s text a favourite among the Neo-Platonists and painters of the Renaissance—reappear here as a searing comment upon the desolation of the modern urban scene. The human-as-animal, the mother-and-child, and the illusive metaphor of the shield—both protecting and revealing transparently the artist standing behind it or lying precariously beneath it—all capture and comment upon themes deeply rooted in human duality. Is the uterus an organ of emotion or the ultimate place of protection? Does it represent the one place we tragically long to return to?
Epicentro art & Morgen Contemporary zeigen:
Mia Florentine Weiss
Donnerstag 19. September 2013, 18 Uhr
Ausstellungsdauer: 20. September bis 12. Oktober
Öffnungszeiten: Di–Sa 12–18 Uhr
Sonderöffnungszeiten zur Berlin Art Week:
Freitag 20.09 – Sonntag 22.09 11.00–20.00 Uhr
JOACHIMSTRASSE 5 / GIPSPARK
SYMPOSIUM 3.7. Berlin Art Week 2013 DOKU