Double Exposure. Reflections on the End of Dichotomies
by Lucie Fontaine
The aim behind the second edition of Berlin Open Studio is to juxtapose the time and space spent by the artist in the studio with the time and space spent by the artist outside of it. Through appropriation of the double exposure photographic technique – in which two images are made visible at once – this initiative acknowledges the outside, the other, the opposite, which transforms outside and inside into two faces of the same coin; therefore highlighting a very crucial issue dominating the reality we live in, which is characterized by the end of all dichotomies.
It is significant that the end of all dichotomies is not brought about by a hegemony, in which one surpasses or destroys the other. In a time dominated by porosity and implosion, we witness a reality capable of performing both opposites simultaneously; rather than a gray zone mixing black and white, our reality takes the shape of a camouflage, a polka dot pattern, a grid, in which the two opposites are separated and united at the same time.
Probably the most important example of this phenomenon is the current relationship between labor time and leisure time. While a recent past – the precise location of which I will not try to define for this is the task of historians – saw a strict division between a time of working and a time of not-working, today’s new form of flexible labor, rooted in immaterial capital and the transformation of knowledge or emotions into commodities, sees no such strict division. In other words, for those who are employing this kind of labor, it is very difficult to understand when they are working and when they are not.
I value this example “most important” because this recent transformation, this lack of separation between labor and leisure is one of the foundations of the field of visual art in which it is impossible to quantify, through time and space, the amount of work an artist does and the kind of work an artist does; even when analyzing the life of an artist using a medium like painting, which can be mistaken for being “traditional”. (Especially because of this misunderstanding and apparent conservatism, painting can be more advanced than other media of more recent invention.)
Another example I would like to share is how in Italian language a way of dressing equally and the act of belonging to a certain group (mostly military) is defined by the two words: divisa and uniforme. While the first means “to divide,” the second means “to uniform”; in other words, two terms describing the same thing have in fact opposite meanings. Once again I will leave history to the experts of language, but it is interesting to notice how language is giving us hints about its own obsolescence. Whenever we try to define something with language we end up using dichotomies: one thing and its opposite. However, this system no longer functions – it‘s simply folklorist.
This example I share because I advocate the awareness of the limits of language in favor of the universality of visual language and specifically the language of art, which has rules ready to be broken, codes in continuous evolution, and a grammar to learn again every day.
My wish is to see some of these ideas floating within the space and time of this year’s edition of Berlin Open Studio.
Colmar, October 2015