Exhibited at Exhibit 8 gallery. Georgiou Gennadiou 16, Limassol, Cyprus. 20 January – 11 February, 2022
The political aesthetics of subversion in photography
The modern axiomatic belief of quantification as the only valid truth and its aesthetic extend
1.1 Modernity and quantifiable re-construction of spatiotemporal dimension
Modernity is like a colossal, cultural-historical machine that simulates and reconstructs space and time into a series of discrete, delimited units. Mechanical clocks, a modern invention, through machinery, simulate time in successive units: seconds, minutes, hours, days, years. Space is also divided and represented in a series of linear, delimited, measurable units. Modernity is a numerical plane of existence that constitutes a simulation of space and time. When we quantify the spatial and the temporal dimension, we restructure them as linear entities. Reality becomes the – arbitrarily – linear embodiment of otherwise dissociated temporal and spatial fragments. These fragments, are bound together through a rigid scaffold set by machinery. In science: simulations and scientific models, in arts: the painting as a window to the world (in Renaissance, for example), historiography, and other unified conceptions of reality arise from the idea of a linear – quantified – temporal and spatial existence; In other words, the linear perception of time and space, that exists in Modernity, presupposes a quantifiable standard; a framework of quantification.
1.2 The political importance of this project
When we delineate space and time, the conception of boundaries also begins to emerge. Boundaries separate entities spatiotemporally: they distinguish where the Self and the Other begin and end in space and time. A linear perception of the Self also occurs in the temporal dimension. For example, conceptual boundaries separate who I am, from who I am not, and from whom I want to be in a linear temporal progression. Boundaries demarcate the Self and the Other on a personal and, also, on a collective level. Thus, they are profoundly political as they demarcate collective entities, such as nations, and other collective entities based on arbitrary spatiotemporal conceptions of identity. Meanwhile, boundaries must imply the existence of entities beyond them in order to exist. Everything exists in a simultaneous reference to their opposites; a reference that is an integral part
of where they initially came from. Therefore, within the conception of the delimited Self, the existence of the Other (the alterity) is inherently inscribed.
This paradoxical self-referentiality exists in how Modernity represents reality; it is how Modernity projects time, memory, and place, on a collective and an individual level. The political importance of this realization is that what determines the existence of identities in the Modern edifice is nothing but a constant and perpetual self-referential reflection the identities are having on themselves. A state of being in the Modern world always reflects a constructed opposite that (in a compulsive way) needs to be verified in a reflexive manner and be sustained. In that sense, in order for an Identity to exist, a “trauma” or – at least – a problem must also be invented (fabricated) to validate a reflective existence to the Self. The Self becomes the reflexive validation of a fabricated trauma. “Trauma”, not only needs to be invented, but it also needs to be perpetuated in order to sustain the edifice that enables for an identity to exist in the first place. So an Other (the Alterity) is invented that is pretentiously thought to be the cause of the trauma. For example, nationalism thrives on this logic. For a national identity to exist, a projected “national” “Other” must also exist.
Collective memory, as a temporal narrative, in nationalist discourses, is nearly always defined in reference to a collective “trauma” inflicted by an Other, the alterity. This trauma – inflicted by the Other – is sustained and preserved within the nationalist discourse, because it gives meaning to the existence of the national identity in the first place. To “heal” this trauma means that the whole collective – nationalist – memory collapses. By definition, national borders, exist in the spatial dimension because of a projected “Other” beyond these boundaries. To repeat, within the conception of the delimited Self, the existence of the Other is inherently inscribed. If we were to represent this logic as a geometrical form, this form would bear the topological properties of a Möbius strip. I propose that the projection of a Möbius world-view, like the one described above, is inherent in how Modernity structures spatiotemporal dimensions as identities; as conceptualizations of reality. The photographs shown here, reconstruct the space as having the Möbius topological properties. (I restructured the photographic space as a Möbius topology, in that way we metaphorically reconstruct space in an alternative way).
Meanwhile, the Self and the Other are not only preserved in this compulsive manner, but they are also quantified as essentialized entities, because Modernity is about delimitation.
Thus, the Self and the Other are denatured from their fluid form and they become substances that their form and function (even their “alter-native”) is already predetermined. Essentialized identities become objects, simulacra and simulations (to refer to Jean Baudrillard) of already predetermined “essences” and modalities that repeat the loop of a Möbius topological structure.