“In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, Volume II, Chapter XXXI, Section 396
Continuing her interest in how the digital world and the body meet, Keresztes utilises the metaphor of a venomous sting as a means to express empathy in times of the capitalisation of affect.
Keresztes’ new mosaic monuments borrow from the colour scheme of anatomical models developed in the 18th and 19th century which made the functionalities of organs graspable by removing layer after layer of artificial tissue. While the illness in these anatomical models became handheld, manageable and explainable, Keresztes’ larger than life figures extrapolate a form of ailment that refuses to be understood, that is present and shared throughout the exhibition space.
The visual motif running throughout the works is a self-damming act of protection. Keresztes’ sculptures are caught in their monumental inter-dependencies, dammed to their desires and bound by rope. The tear shaped sting motif threaded on dyed rope acts as a symbol for pain, compassion and empathy simultaneously. The latter are never singled out phenomena, they are being reciprocated, since neurologically, the distinction between what one feels and what others feel is not a clear one. (1)
Her reading of the venomous sting can be understood as a 21stcentury update for Schopenhauer’s porcupine dilemma: A group of porcupines are exposed to the cold; huddle too close and the porcupines injure each other but move too far away and they will freeze. Finding the balance between proximity and distance is crucial to the survival of the group. Schopenhauer uses this metaphor to describe the challenges of human intimacy and the state of the individual in relation to a society. Despite the good intentions, intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual (self-) harm.
(1) Emma Young, „I Feel Your Pain“, New Scientist, May 2016, p. 33