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Understatement Hyperbole

13.02.2010 – 13.03.2010

Curator: BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG

Artists: SOAVINA RAMAROSON, PETRA LOTTJE

It is just a search…
Sometimes a search for singularity in plurality
Sometimes a search for identity in a community
Sometimes a search for the root-end or the leaf-end of a cliché or stereotype
Sometimes a search for the thin line between an understatement and a hyperbole

The concept of artistic creation spans a wide scope which can be banally simplified as ranging from an understatement to a hyperbole. Such an understatement could be interpreted in the intensive and poignant minimal and conceptual art by Flavin, Judd or LeWitt and such a hyperbole could be a lapidary association to extreme performances of the Wiener Aktionismus around Brus or Nitsch.

What on the other hand is probably more difficult to portray is a combination of an understatement and a hyperbole, which by any definition are two sides of the same coin; just like any other extremes. One might also argue that the statement made by the minimalists was by no way an understatement but a gross exaggeration of an entity or an idea, especially when considering the formation and not the form, which due to its intangibility seems to us an understatement. Likewise, one could bullet out enough arguments to define the works of the most abstract painters or most aggressive performance artists as just an understatement of what it could be. Whichever way this might turn out to be, this phenomenon is worth reflecting and researching on.

In this line of thought, the art space SAVVY Contemporary, which seeks at instigating a dialogue between the populist terminologies “western art” and “non-western art” invites two milestones of a new generation to deliberate on this understatement-hyperbole complex. Crossing the imaginary geographical lines in art, these two artists, Petra Lottje and Soavina Ramaroson, of completely different backgrounds and media with which they contain their artistic positions, are pre-destined to expose together. While the differences in the causa materialis, causa formalis and causa effiziens are seemingly evident, from Aristotle’s point of view, Petra Lottje and Soavina Ramaroson have the same causa finalis, namely art as a state of expression, aesthetics and encounter. By getting into the crux of their works, this exhibition intends to broach the issue of, but also demystify the extremes (geographically, historically or conceptually). If Marcel Duchamp’s quote “Art is a game between all people of all periods” holds true, then SAVVY contemporary will be the playground for this game, while Lottje and Ramaroson are the players.

In their works, both artists’ theoretical horizon is around the realm of human interactions and their social context as coined by Nicolas Bourriaud in Relational Aesthetics.

On the one hand, Lottje extracts episodes, representing the exaggerated emotions and clichés affiliated to Hollywood movies of a period of over 50 years, to create her own universe. By extracting, metamorphosing and making a video collage, Lottje compresses these characteristic factors meant to attract and strike a chord with a mega-public to an understatement without losing the emotions and clichés meant to be transmitted. By playing to the gallery but consciously distancing herself from acting, Lottje seeks at re-individualizing, in her own way, the junk of information and pictures provided by the mass media in general and movies in particular. Thus, her work is a pursuit to maybe filter the surplus to the essential. It is a bid at personifying the mainstream. It is a searching for an identity in the mass and a means of canalization using the arts.

On the other hand, Ramaroson does a sozio-anthropological research of mainstream clichés with the camera as his weapon. Be it clichés about women, poverty or the illusion of manhood, the poignancy of Ramaroson’s work can be summarized in a title of one of his pieces “la force ne peut resister à l’esprit”. In a cryptic depiction, he seeks at decanalizing a distinct identity to a mass of impressions from popular culture. Spiked with humor and irony, Ramaroson chooses to amplify… by over-expressing the found emotions and platitudes in his photography, he transforms understatements that almost disappear in daily routine to a massive exaggeration that calls for utmost attention. The scenes in his works narrate stories of a strange world but the emotions emanating from the figures are omnipresent and appeal to an almost global identification. It is an effort to create a handbook of contemporary symbolism in photography.