Waters Overflowing, Mountains Collapsing, and the Crumbling of the World Pillars

Angels Miralda, Abraham Kritzman, Marlene Steyn

27/07/2015 - 07/09/2015

Dr. Felix 72A, Bucharest, Romania

I found this title months ago when I was Google searching for popular myths and Romanian folklore. I was attracted to this sentence, it conjured images both misty and dusty, rubble and the confounding of matter and space. And don’t we have apocalyptic tales of our own? As if myth-making were a thing of the past, as if object-making weren’t also a string of narrative. A narcissistic contemporary immune to failure.

Yet here we are daily bombarded by warnings of environmental points of no return, financial crisis, economic collapse, the breaking of the Eurozone, global epidemics, and outside terrorist threats. This project and exhibition question the notions of a separate contemporary, subject to the same strategies of narrative and world politics; we consider the landscape as the ground from which a new narrative will occur. Object-making is related to narrative and mysteries combine with new worlds that enter our common imaginary.

Geographical mountain ranges reaching through the clouds, indistinguishable peaks that remain veiled in that thin water vapour until you burst through it with walking sticks and heightened energy. Condensation soaking the vast rocks and cracking them with small rivulets that turn into roaring waterfalls. Sounds creak near the pond and those rustles under the bush terrify you more than they should. Monstruous aberration, unnatural sprite, something hidden in the shadows.

In 1947 George Bataille published a text titled “The Absence of Myth” in which he argued that myth no longer exists in a meaningful way. He tried to create a modern myth that could bring us back to the days of meaning. He based his study around the history of the ‘Place de la Concorde’ in Paris that had been through a lengthy series of historical changes. It contained legendary functions and was associated with the sun and sacrifice. The original statue in the centre was of Louis XIV, the Sun King, this was destroyed during the revolution and replaced by a statue to liberty, later it was replaced again by an obelisk, a return to sun worship. The place de la Concorde was also one of the locations of the guillotine, and easily, notions of sacrifice could be imagined. [1]

Bataille’s project was a failure. He ended his attempts to create this modern narrative with the belief that it could no longer be done because of schisms in society and the changing notion of community.

There are still modern myths that serve the same functions as those of the ancients. They are stories that everybody knows and exist in a multitude of variations but with a central model from which only deviations exist.

“The starting point for many of my films is a landscape, whether it be a real place or an imaginary or hallucinatory one from a dream, and when I write a script I often describe landscapes that I have never seen.”[2]

Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God serves as an example for our project. Herzog took a vague story of an almost forgotten explorer during the Spanish expeditions to the New World. He reimagined this story and with bouts of writing, creativity, but also a wide amount of spontaneity, he created a classic film that revitalizes a forgotten story. Aguirre, increasingly more power-hungry and crazed, traverses the rainforest in a doomed mission. As he enters further into madness, the landscape consumes him.

Pasolini’s notion of true culture, this timeless edict that traverses geography and lies in the land examines structures of language and culture that stem not from high arts or academia, but rather that emerge naturally from passages of time and masses of people. For Pasolini, the myths of Oedipus as well as Medieval folklore are just as relevant today as stories from our own time. With poetry deeply imbedded in traditions and yet outspokenly breaking every code of conduct, such a figure stakes a claim in the role of radicality and contradiction in the continuation of poetry.

Text by Angels Miralda

[1] Georges Bataille, “The Absence of Myth” Le Surréalisme en 1947 (1947), Paris: Maeght.

[2] Werner Herzog, ed. Paul Cronin, Herzog on Herzog, Faber and Faber, London. 2002. (pp. 83)


Angels Miralda

Angels Miralda is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art in London where she writes on installation and contemporary art theory. She is also an independent writer and curator working as well as manager of Lychee One Gallery in East London.

Abraham Kritzman

Abraham Kritzman is a visual artist working with painting, sculpture, and installation. He is currently a tutor at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and at the School of Visual Art in Kaye College, Beersheva.

Marlene Steyn

Marlene Steyn is a visual artist working with painting, sculpture, and installation and is based in Cape Town, South Africa. She graduated with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art.