Brain Food: Anders Holen’s NULL
Before you: a splintered figure, an anonymous testament to iconic figuration, a transient Venus and her iconoclasm; a c-shaped brain bundle, made of glass, and otherwise known as the fornix (with accompanying ventricles); metal heat sinks, belonging to an engine (or body) of no name; a pendant lamp with a symbolic spiral staircase, Apple or the Louvre (depending on one’s references); memory foam, contorting to your body; and lastly, silicone droplets, procuring a warm (or cold) wall of thick condensation. As inscrutable as these subjects may be—what does the Papez circuit have to do with the proverbial and corporate glass ceiling?—the algorithms embedded in your brain gather the scattered information and attempt to visualize it, to make sense of it—
There is an inverse ratio between seeing our bodies and feeling them: the more aware we are of ourselves as images, the less we sense the internal complexity and richness of the form they’re contained and substantiated within. Consider this: embodiment and ownership of the body are never a given. A body is by no means owned by the “self” inhabiting it. Neither lived or lived in, the body can become a surrogate for an exteriorized physical limit —meant to be endured, rather than experienced; neither the home nor hearth of being.
Looking allegorizes this paradox. The veritable kismet of representations, manipulations, and perceptions which comprise the exhibition before you ask us to focus our attention and decipher a singular siteline among the endless exchanges, pictorial conventions, and non-experiential modes present here. And it is precisely this psychic space of complexity, object-agency, and play with the inscrutability of images that defines the work before you. Invested in the limits of aesthetic production—and so rich in symbolism and its excess— Holen’s NULL presents a wide-eyed and stereoscopic complex of image “environments” and ambiguities. Taken together, the works stage a new graphical system based around the fantasy of omniscience of the body and the limits of its comprehension. The resulting experience is a feedback loop: as one takes in the work,, the same part of the brain lights up as the image represented by it—e.g., a glass fornix mirrors back one’s sensoring processing of that glass fornix in real time. In this way, the exhibition becomes a psychodynamic mirror phase—a viewer bears witness to their own interiority.
One could say that sculpture is a prolonged hesitation between image and meaning. NULL is no exception. Like phantom limbs, these are forms which present a misalignment of body image and our actual physical limitations—a notion of durability radically at odds with material capacity, our material capacities. The evolution of “disparate” shapes collapses the image. The dimensionality is a nod to the original credo of Holen’s work: that knowledge is in excess of what is visible, a collaborative process of animation with an observer.