FJK3, Vienna (AT)

17.11.2014 – 29.11.2014

Cornelis van Almsick (DE)

Nandita Raman (IN), Kay Walkowiak (AT)

Two conceptual and spatial constructions located in India form the starting point of the exhibition: the planned city of Chandigarh, built in the 1950s under the direction of Le Corbusier with a utopian, Western and modernist approach; and the Maha Kumbh Mela held every twelve years in Allahabad, with its 40 million pilgrims believed to be the largest human gathering in the world.

Nandita Raman and Kay Walkowiak have focused on different aspects of these real sites of utopian character in new works of sculpture, film and photography. They explore the topos of the failed utopia, likewise the phenomenon of unappeasable yearning for the place beyond all places. It concerns not least the question of transposing this non-place which, as place of potentiality, fuels our wish machines and keeps them running.

In [...] A Different Order, Kay Walkowiak mercilessly unmasks the constitutive characteristics of Western ideas of utopia. They strategically aim at creating a final, supreme good by having the process of nature culminate into an eschatological final stage which will finally complete the becoming of nature. There everything aims at a »final version« of life in which man, having become one with creationand having shaped the world according to his own mental model, will have completed himself in accordance with the life of nature. At least in the tense of Future II, which is the tense of the promise always waiting to be realized by us. [...]
For his research, Kay Walkowiak once again chose a place in India, the Kumbh Mela near Allahabad, the biggest religious festival in the world. Once more India is the country providing him with the suitable ground for his research work, for exploring the place which as yet has no place: the space of utopia.
The myths of India say that near Allahabad a drop of amrita, the divine nectar of immortality, fell onto the earth and that certain constellations of the stars make it return in regular intervals. For the believers this is an opportunity to ritually distance themselves from the ephemeral world, in order to experience in the here and now the moment of a presence that has since the beginning of time been waiting to be discovered. For, quite in contrast to European-modernistic ideas of utopias which must be built and realized by humans to be existent in the future, in the context of the Indian culture the utopian (counter-)presence has always been there. It becomes obvious—in a sublime way—as soon as the five superimpositions of a wrong life—fear, greed, hate,egotism, and ignorance—have gone and the veil of the Maya they have created has been torn. Then we will have arrived exactly where we basically have always been: in the selfless space of a shapeless emptiness we have been sharing with each othersince the beginning of our existence.
Whereas the utopias of the West »are permanently arriving,« to once again take up a formulation by Derrida, the utopia of emptiness has always been there. It thus has,as already expressed by the Greek word u-topia, rather a spatial than a temporal meaning. It is the entry point into a (counter-)presence we are already in throughout our lives, even if it is being eclipsed and peripheralized day after day by a wrong way of life.

Text: Arno Böhler, Vienna 2016
Photos: (c) Julius Unterberger