Plato Heroic vs. Holistic exhibition

Barbara Falender (PL), Grzegorz Kowalski (PL), Miyeon Lee (KR), Beny Wagner (DE)
Unnatural apparition by: Nadja Argyropoulou (GR)

“Sour grapes. What an expression (on your face). Sour grapes are unexpected and unwanted. You pick a grape, bite through the skin to the fleshy fruit expecting sweetness. Perhaps you anticipate seeds, but more likely not (seedless reigns). Expecting sweetness, you are disappointed by the sour grape. Say “yuck” and spit it out if you can; if not, grimace and swallow. The grape is rejected. Is it bad? Or just not what you wanted? Not what you paid for? Were you deceived by the unblemished appearance of the fruit? Can you trust the next one?

Sour grapes: the expression refers to someone who is dissatisfied, holds a grudge, doesn’t have a sense of humor, won’t go along with the crowd, a sore loser. Sour is crabby, sullen, surly, as well as acerbic. Adjectives to put down, as well as to describe. Adjectives used to describe feminists, troublemakers.

Sour grapes is an expression to describe something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth (another expression), in someone’s mouth. The question that no one asks is, how does the grape feel? How does being sour feel? How does being spat out feel? How does being rapidly gulped feel? Does the grape feel rejected or glad to get away? Really now, does the grape feel at all? Hey, are any grapes reading this text? Grapes, get together.”1

Today, ethical reflection on the value of nature is regarded as a sports discipline. Ecologists compete in how to introduce values with a clear hierarchy. They create an autonomous construct, different from our personal desires and experiences; a hypothetical machine designed to control. Feelings have nothing to do here; even worse, they are perceived as ridiculous obstacles easily interfering with a perfectly thought-out machinery. Arguments that are not based on facts, but on love or compassion, are irrelevant. The heroic mind has managed to look, but not see, act but not feel, think but not know.

Holistic people adopt a different standpoint to the current crisis of nature. Their opinions do not have a competitive essence, we can rather call them stories that model a fluid portrait of the world we live in. This image is not based on a unified view. It is a stream that brings the voices of people emerging from different places and life circumstances. They emphasize the metaphorical role of nature settled in abstract universal principles, and replace the dictates of heroic ethics with the imagery of the world’s mindscape.

Holism is defined as a theory establishing the organisation of the world on the existence of a whole, while heroic ethics is characterized by isolated action.

Introduced in the form of an erotic eco-drama, the exhibition Heroic vs. Holistic offers a post-romantic view of nature from the point of view of the two ethics mutually permeating one another.

Daniela and Linda Dostálková

1 Ellen O’Loughlin: Questioning Sour Grapes: Ecofeminism and the United Farm Workers Grape Boycott, 1993.

Artists’ profiles

Barbara Falender is a sculptor living in Warsaw. She made a name shortly after her graduation from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (1972), with statues on predominately erotic subjects, in the time when Poland was ruled by distinct pro-Catholic tendencies. Her series of objects Erotic Pillows (1973–1974) that is part of the Heroic vs. Holistic exhibition comes from the same period. Falender’s trademark material is marble; the display will include her self-portrait created last year.

Grzegorz Kowalski is a sculptor, performer, teacher and curator living in Warsaw. He studied under Oskar Hansen; professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (Department of Sculpture) since 1991. A generation of now internationally famous artists such as Paweł Althamer, Katarzyna Kozyra and Artur Żmijewski passed through his Kowalnia studio, due to his outstanding teaching activities. The Heroic vs. Holistic exhibition showcases a selection from Kowalski’s work with erotic charge that is characteristic of his oeuvre; for example, Devotionalia (1972) and In the Mirror (1978).

Falender met G. Kowalski during her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw where Kowalski worked as an assistant in the studio of Professor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz. As a couple they shared a photographic studio, which proved momentous for both artists, especially in their work with nudes. Each of them approached models in their own specific way, yet together. Falender employed photographs like sketches for her sculptures, while for Kowalski the photographic record was often the final phase.

Miyeon Lee is a visual artist. She was born in South Korea and studied in New York; she currently works in South Korea and Belgium. The point of departure in her work was the position of outsider who constantly changes his or her place. Lee is mostly active as a painter. She refers to the way in which she employs lines, colours and shading as balancing on the verge of stability. The subject which she has long pursued regards her relationship with social tendencies in traditional Korean society. Lee will create a wall painting exclusively for the Heroic vs. Holistic exhibition and will present, among others, paintings from the series Absence of Mountains (2017).  She has collaborated with Belgian architect Ruben Castro since 2016, in the Lee Castro performative duo that will organise a workshop within the exhibition called I don’t have a visa but I can make Kimchi (traditional Korean food).

Beny Wagner is a visual artist and writer living in Berlin. He focuses on motion pictures, texts and installations, he lectures and creates non-linear narratives between scientific approach and speculation. Wagner examines various manners of mediation between the inner self and the external world through ecology, technology, a material and virtual space. In his work he repeatedly returns to visual mediation, focusing on how the sight, as well as the limits of consciousness, is shaped by language, matter and technologies. He currently lectures at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. At the Heroic vs. Holistic exhibition the artist will present his latest film essay called We’re All Here (2016) exploring the inexplicable feelings over the loss of the inexperienced.

Nadja Argyropoulou is a freelance curator; she lives in  Athens. She studied history of art at the University of Essex. She currently collaborates with the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art in Athens. She curated, for example, Wor(th) ship. Tassos Vrettos, Benaki Museum, Athens (2015–2016); Hell as Pavilion, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013). As a curator she collaborated on the exhibitions The Marathon Marathon with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Athens (2010); DESTEFASHIONCOLLECTION: 1 to 8, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art and Benaki Museum, Athens, and many others. Argyropoulou  became the voice of the exhibition, a supernatural phenomenon captured in a series of videos spontaneously made with the curators Daniela and Linda Dostálková on the volcanic Greek island of Nisyros. The three of them met there in early autumn during the work on the land-art project Haunt in Ægean (initiated by Are).

Curators’ profile

Sisters Daniela and Linda Dostálková make up an artistic tandem, they currently live in Prague. External curators of the PLATO gallery. They run Institutional Homeopathy, a social and art agency through which they provide services for cultural institutions as well as individuals. By applying procedures of related disciplines they create new hybrid forms presented as exhibitions, workshops and artistic publications. It is important for them to be aware of the permeability of the borders between the individual genres; they work across media and disciplines. They studied together at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, in the department of Professor Grzegorz Kowalski, and they have also taken part in several study stays and residencies abroad.

Related events

16 November 2017,  at 5 pm – 9 pm / Lee Castro: I don’t have a VISA but I can make Kimchi  (workshop)
19 November 2017, at 10 am and 2.30 pm /  Paper Rescue (art family workshops)
28 November 2017, at 6 pm /  Sasha Litvintseva & Beny Wagner: Metaphors of Sight (audiovisual lecture)

In partnership with Are.