Boris Greiner


Boris Greiner

Exhibition: The Black House
Art Pavilion, Zagreb
September 9 – October 15, 2022

At first glance, the black object on the white gravel of the approach to the main entrance of the Art Pavilion has the effect of a two-dimensional photographic montage in real, three-dimensional space. Or as if a bit of the space had been cut out in the form of a little house, and that beyond is seen: a space filled with a black void; we are in a balloon, around us is what we see is there, but the balloon is in that black, and the little house is a window into what is out of the balloon. And if for a moment we recall that our sphere is actually in such a space, in a space that cannot be said to be entirely empty and entirely black, even if there is no more intense blackness and bigger emptiness than that of space, and that too is a balloon. And if the little black house is a window into that outside, then space too has something outside, and the window is a black hole. Perhaps behind the black hole there is a bigger balloon still, which, in the logic of things, should be neither black nor empty, but coloured and completely filled with all sorts of stuff. It is impossible, that is, to break free of the feeling that there must always be something else behind something.

If we replace the telescope with a microscope and look inwards, there is always something else in anything. In both cases we have to admit that what we see both outwards and inwards is just a little part of what exists, in other words a detail registered in our senses of some kind of infinite abundance.

Science claims that we use software-wise just a bit of our hardware capacity, that our brain has a greater capacity than that which we use. People say that the cerebral convolutions should sometimes after all be told to exert themselves, which is on the one hand accurate and on the other not, because the brain doesn’t work like a muscle the volume of which can be increased by exercise, or exertion, because it would mean that the brain arrived at this volume by exerting itself. And since it can hardly be said that we have ever in the past used it more than we do today, it turns out that we haven’t developed it but have got the use of it. But we didn’t get a user’s manual. We have more or less mastered some of the programmes in the computer gifted us during the course of time, but the others are waiting, a good part of our brain is on stand-by.

Its effective part is in vigorous communication with the senses, it processes their registration, and this part we call consciousness or reason. Most people agree though that there is something else, what is not quite at our disposal, what happens when, as Matoš says, “madness orders reason to comply”. In other words, sometimes some of the programmes on stand-by will activate themselves. I dare say that these random activations are not all that rare, but the firm hand of reason on the whole crushes them at the very beginning. Not to pay attention, however, to the lights that have lit up all by themselves, in us, though, in fact means to be deaf to the fundamental responsibility, responsibility to the self-generated thought that is the contact between us and all.

That part of us that is not controlled by reason, the existence of which we are persuaded of by science and personal experience, is the lasting theme of the artistic work of Kata Mijatović. The space of the unconscious is the area of her interest, no matter whether it is a matter of dreams or of the subconscious, forms of her communication with the conscious, Kata endeavours to highlight the role of the subconscious, to include its reflexes in the experience of the whole.

But unlike Bruno Schultz, whose Republic of Dreams is for him a metaphor for the interpretation of the inner event, Kata treats the dimension of our existence that occupies a third of our life as raw material and symbolically translates it with material properties, that is, the characteristics of elements from reality. The presence of the unconscious is illustrated with water, whether writing out words with a brush dipped in water, or with white sheets soaked in water, just as water evaporates in the air, so dreams disappear in waking. Another element is coal, for as against water that flows, coal stands, water evaporates, and coal constantly gains new layers, identifying it as a sign of the subconscious. Performatively, Kata brings the materialisation of interior deposits out onto the surface (Resume, MM Centre, 2014). Dreams are volatile and fluid like water, but the matter from which they are built is constant and solid, the sedimented layers of the external that the senses have registered and saved on the hard disk, incontrovertible proofs, we can imagine them as images that lurk or eke out an existence in one of the long-since not-visited quarters. And when consciousness slumbers, then from stand-by state the programme for editing and montage is activated, we can imagine it as a VJ, with shades and tousled hair, a simple T, looking like any jerk off the streets, using our archive, fitting in episodes from our singles or long plays into his scenario, adding SFX, a classic experimental film. In the absence of the rule of reason we understand the director’s idea without a problem. It’s hard to say how long his show lasts because in dreams time is not subject to our criteria. As consciousness arouses, so the point and meaning drains out of the director’s concept, just as sheets dry, so we forget the language, no longer know its syntax, and the content too vanishes bit by bit. Sometimes some picture will remain, a moment before waking, what the VJ has put on instead of The End, these images Kata gathers and puts aside, where else but in a virtual archive, I won’t be going overboard if I say that she has the biggest collection of other people’s dreams in the world.

“The Black House is a kind of replacement form, a metaphor of a mass that comes from the same non-place. Unlike coal, which signified the transfer of content from the unconscious, the Black House is a materialisation of a capsule of unconsciousness.” (Kata Mijatović)

From this it must derive that the unconscious has once again served as raw materials, in this case as building material, it not being about black painted walls within which there is nothing, rather there is a whole dwelling of a mass from non-place. This non-structure, the material staging of the negation of materiality is there, says the author, in the role of pattern, a captured part of the unconscious. Just as in the Black Hole gravity to which all the rest of the universe is subject, so in the Black House our criteria don’t work and one cannot know how big a part of the unconscious is housed within it.

Lovers of SF will recognise the non-object as a portal for a trip down a wormhole to some other universe located in who knows what dimension, fans of psychoanalysis as a means of getting into what are otherwise inaccessible dimensions of the being, those into the esoteric as a medium of communication with the beyond and impassioned metaphysicians will be absorbed by its very material negation of reality, a palpable three-dimensional excerpt from it. It doesn’t represent what is not, for there is not what is not, but the logic of the place involves something outside or apart from this place, if there is space, then there must also be non-space. Just as in a black hole time is not subject to gravitation, so in the Black House in front of the Art Pavilion space is not subject to the criteria of reality for it is built of non-reality.

But Kata is not concerned with the negation of reality, rather with the figure of that part that is inaccessible to her. She is not interested in analysing the films we watch while we sleep, but in presenting them as images, the Dream Archive is not a book of dreams but a mosaiced  survey of various directorial concepts. She is not interested in using coal as effective fuel for her production, but in foregrounding the transfer, the communication with the interior layers of the being, with spaces that, if not accessible, in a good part form our experiences and govern our decisions. That coal is extracted from a mine is also effective in her translation; the protagonist of Camus’ The Stranger says it is enough to live one day to have something to remember the whole of one’s life, is an inexhaustible thesaurus of internal deposits. But this thesaurus is just a smallish part of the space of the inaccessible, and the transfer that Kata conducts performatively, resulting in an every greater pile of coal on the stage, is a portrait of an artistic procedure. It is not about psychoanalytically delving into the subconscious, into the origin of one’s own personality, because this personality is a part of all personalities, but it is about delving into the space where they not only dwell but also communicate, mining coal. Kata mines fragments of a dialogue that is conducted within her between her and all else.

So we cannot explain the Black House as either portal or tool or medium. Following the instructions of Ionesco, who in his Notes and Counter Notes says “Only the imagination can reveal the authentic nature of things, truth, more real than any realism”, we might understand the non-structure as a sample of the area of imagination. For just like the process expounded so far, dreams vanish in waking, the interior is transferred out, it moves on from the unconscious and in the authorial procedure art is identified as link or point of contact with the conscious, so it is now: the imagination is that with which the field of artistic activity is sown, located in the area of the unconscious although it gathers the fruits consciously. Which would mean that we look consciously through the lens of the unconscious, or through the lens of art we observe reality.