Blue Light / Leah Clements, Martins Kohout, Marko Šajn, Ada Zielińska

Center for Contemporary Arts Celje

Temporary exhibition / 07.06.2024 - 01.09.2024

The international group exhibition questions how technological capitalism affects the everyday intimate lives of individuals, their interpersonal relationships, and the anxieties it generates. Blue Light examines contemporary forms of control and the concept of closeness within an atomized society of risk and prosperity. From social media to therapeutic environments, it highlights the structures that contribute to feelings of isolation or introduce significant changes to modern modes of cohabitation.

In a vulnerable moment, Blue Light illuminates the face.

The photograph Home Office (2020) by artist Ada Zielińska was created during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she temporarily left her home and moved into a conference room at a law firm in the centre of Warszaw. In an empty glass tower amid the desolate pandemic landscape, the office space loses its original purpose and opens up to artistic intervention, becoming both the artist’s studio and home. Empty bottles, a personal computer, a dishevelled bed, and piles of books testify to how she makes sense of everyday life in an environment that does not allow for unproductiveness, even when daily activities are at a complete standstill. The artist’s connection to the outside world is represented by a flying drone, through which she observes and photographs herself. The artist’s insightful self-portrait reveals an obsession with hyperproduction, the control of intimacy, and the rise of loneliness in contemporary times.

Slides (2018) by artist Martins Kohout touches on insomnia, among other things, as the flow of information and constant exposure to stimuli intrude even into periods of rest, impacting the quality of sleep. With a subtle approach and creating an atmosphere that is at once intimate and alien, the artist uses the language of film to portray the affective aspect of technology’s entry into everyday life. The film’s protagonists turn to electronic devices for advice on their problems, to observe their appearance, or to compensate for their absence by sending messages to loved ones.

Marko Šajn is interested in how technological tools visually interpret interpersonal intimate gestures. He painted his works based on suggestions from a platform that uses artificial intelligence to generate images based on keywords entered by the artist. The platform generated words such as ” hug,” ” group,” and the like into masses of embracing yet uniform and impersonal bodies that, upon closer inspection, reveal numerous deformities. The artist convincingly demonstrates the shortcomings of resorting to technology in resolving puzzles related to intimacy.

Artist Leah Clements explores how the resolution of personal struggles is increasingly being shifted to professional domains, and how professionals care for themselves while maintaining privacy amidst daily contact with traumatic personal stories or events. She presents this exploration in her video To Not Follow Under (2019), which features excerpts from interviews with a psychotherapist, a neurologist, and a lifeguard. The imagery of the film places individuals in confined yet safe environments, such as a hyperbaric chamber, a pool with invisible edges, and a hospital room. In this way, the artist creates a specific atmosphere of fluidity between anxiety and relief, questioning the limits of empathy and the professionalized “care for.”

Blue Light is the second in a series of exhibitions, conceived as a four-part project entitled Art and Mental Health. The project explores how the topic of mental health is entering the field of contemporary art and what issues are addressed by artistic practices that deal with non-normative mental states. With further exploration of mental distress and expressions of social organization, it follows the preceding exhibition Check – In through the lens of the concept of closeness and its inherent duality between solitude and loneliness on the one hand and universal connectivity and social anxiety on the other.

Zavod Celeia Celje – Center for Contemporary Arts
Curated by: Maja Hodošček and Domen Ograjenšek
Support: Mestna občina Celje, Ministrstvo za kulturo RS



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