Perched in the eye of a tornado

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.” 

 - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

In the eye of a tornado, a void is formed by the surrounding chaos. Illuminated by the blue lights, the void represents the state of decay or preservation, the internal or the external. Perched in the eye of a tornado, instead of striving for global modernity, the artist will serve solely to reassemble life while dwelling in absolute deterritorialization of the world intended to render the social anew. 

This exhibition features the work of artists who generate meaning from reanimation, reasserting intuitive acts a valuable and powerful critique amid the volatility of recent history and the cycles of violence. Each of the seven featured young artists delves into intermediary images or spaces where the personal meets the historical in order to examine the under-recognized bond between the real and the fictional. Utilizing cardboard, spark plugs, razor wire and computer performance, the works in this show present an audacious adventure shared by artist and viewer.

To the artist in the eye of a tornado, stilled and silenced as “a dead baby” – to borrow Plath’s motif – the world itself becomes a phantasm. An artist who employs a confession of personal struggle, pointing out to viewers life or the world, does not necessarily escape the destiny of entropy. Therefore, the image of the tornado’s eye plays an important role along with the perception of the artist’s own consciousness as either “an impenetrable wall or a highly fragile protective layer.”# 

The wall of the tornado not only indicates the catastrophic reality outside, but also the obscurity of what could happen inside. It preserves a space for the poetic gestures and the aesthetics of intuition. According to Isobel Armstrong’s Radical Aesthetic, only the poetic gesture of the artist is capable of marking and compensating for what cannot be fully present in an image.

The physical materiality of a tornado seems rather obscure, like an unfamiliar culture. However, a tornado is, despite its resemblance to a destroyed world, essentially recognizable to us – it constructs an impenetrable temporal wall by accomplishing a real-life possibility: a single encounter with the threat of violence, as Paul Virilio addresses in Art and Fear. This threat of violence infiltrates the consciousness of daily life at all times. In this sense, a tornado is also a metaphorical presentation of the integration and interaction between peace and war, between domestic space and war zone. 

In this exhibition, the void of a tornado, served as a habitable zone, is consistently turned towards self-reflection, foregrounding and interrogating one’s imprisonment in a continuously rotting system. The artist takes the final option of preserving an integral self against the danger of total destruction.

# Claudia Benthien, Skin: On the Cultural Border Between Self and the World, Columbia University Press, P121