The nations of this planet [Tlön] are congenitally idealist […] The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial. There are no nouns in Tlön’s conjectural Ursprache, from which the «present» languages and the dialects are derived: there are impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffixes (or prefixes) with an adverbial value. For example: there is no word corresponding to the word «moon», but there is a verb which in English would be «to moon» or «to moonate.» “The moon rose above the river» is hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo, or literally: Upward, behind the onstreaming, it mooned
(Jorge Luis Borges, „Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, 1940/61)
In his tale of the imaginary land of Tlön Jorge Luis Borges gives rise to a variety of speculations on the relationship of fiction and reality. Fantasy here is used as both an exit strategy and as a form of critique. In his fictional counter-projection, the world is not conceived as a concourse of objects in space but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.
… explores ways of inhabiting many places at once and imagining different time zones.
Nostalgia, which can be diagnosed as a syndrome of our age, likewise manifests its quality in its rebellious counter position to our conventional understanding of both space and time. A concept where time is equated with a linear understanding of history and progress. Nostalgia, in it’s reluctant nature, encompasses a sense of mourning for worlds and moments of life that have already been lost (or were never actually there to begin with). Worlds of childhood memory, independence, adventure and endless possibilities. Worlds perhaps bigger than those we find ourselves in.
… is not always retrospective; it can be prospective as well. The fantasies of the past determined by the needs of the present have a direct impact on the realities of the future.
As such a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images — of home and abroad, of past and present, of dream and everyday life — Nostalgia not only manifests itself as a retroactive resignation but, at the same time, unfolds a forward-looking incentive and a utopian potential. Following the longing to rebuild the ideal home, nostalgia enables the desire to alter history, to obliterate the irreversibility of the human condition, and to turn it into a private and/or collective mythology.
… speaks in riddles and puzzles, trespassing across the boundaries between disciplines and national territories.
With this idealistic promise and its implied imaginary bygone greatness, nostalgia lies at the core of many powerful ideologies of today. As a seductive tool it is too often being used in order to create phantom collective memories for political gain, tempting us to surrender critical thinking for emotional bonding. Even if understood as false and wrong for many reasons, these affective feelings still have the power to bypass any reflective awareness and to trigger an overall positive emotional response (like McDonald’s happy meals or Disney movies).
… can present an ethical and creative challenge, not merely a pretext for midnight melancholies.
In this context, Upwards, behind the onstreaming, it mooned wanders in the utopian and prospective notion of nostalgia, escapism and the fictional as a creative force. Calling back familiar affects, it throws us, quite literally, into different times, places, moments. It is through these imaginary places that we can contemplate and potentially envision change. Much like fiction, when used reflectively and not restoratively, which pulls you into other possible sceneries and moodscapes. As the eye opening experiments being developed in Borge’s tales rather than the blindfold that is fake news.
Hendrike Nagel & Ben Livne Weitzman
*In-text quotes by Svetlana Boym: „Nostalgia”, in: http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/n/nostalgia/nostalgia-svetlana-boym.html (31.08.2018)
25.8.18 — 26.8.18
Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg, Bertrand Flanet, Hanna-Maria Hammari, Shaun Motsi, Nadia Perlov, M. Welch
Curated by Hendrike Nagel & Ben Livne-Weitzman
Gussglashalle (project space by Maximilian Rödel & Lisa Tiemann)