For your eyes only: practices of concealment Either we will lie or if not not
Elisa Barrera, Sofia Duchovny, Ane Kvåle
When the curtain falls, look behind the scenes. But not every look is desired: we hide from some glances because they could possibly reveal something hurtful about us. We lose control over the image of ourselves and the possibility for a shift occurs, because some visibilities provoke insights that can no longer be reversed, “the light has changed, I no longer love you” (Pollesch). This ontological vulnerability becomes abundantly clear in our feeling of shame: we feel exposed, at the mercy of others, without protection, and want to disappear into a protective darkness. That gazes have a powerful and disciplin- ing dimension is already well known from religious practices: ‘God sees everything’. At the same time we want to be seen, we seek recognition in the eyes of others, so take a look at me now - and there is a quasi-voyeuristic joy in looking (Scopophilia).
What can/may/will one actually still legitimately conceal today? There is a multitude of social ‘practices of concealment’, the aim of which is to tame the economy of gazes: curtains, locks, doors, veils have the respactable task of hiding something from unwant- ed glances. This in turn awakens the interest of voyeurs who long to obtain this visibility, for of course the hidden has a special attraction. ‘Visibility is a trap’, states Foucault, for the gaze of others becomes an internalized gaze on ourselves. Intimacy can also be an imposition; darkness provides protection.
Although the three artists - Elisa Barrera, Sofia Duchovny, Ane Kvåle - work formally differently, a common affinity for surfaces as well as lines and contours can be dis- cerned apart from the shared interest in questions of visibility or concealment. The works bear traces of Camp - without, however, wanting to do without a dimension of content. They refer to ornaments and patterns that seem decorative or even superficial at a first glance. However, these are not nostalgic, longing references to a bygone era: they are rather shifts and inter-medial references. In their fragmentation, they point to traces of everyday life; they form a powerful contrast to the almost formal and contemporary language. Barrera, Duchovny, and Kvåle work with radical reductions until only tender outlines and hints remain, visible and tangible at the moment of their disappearance. The remaining contours and shadows suggest scenes and worlds that are on the verge of dissolution, that work through association and yet evoke worlds of images.