Al Teleki

In search for the way out of the labyrinth of creativity.

Category: Art

Exhibition Invitation: IV Passion for Freedom London Festival 2012

Dears friends and bloggers, next November in London the exhibition “Passion for Freedom” will take place. I am featuring a piece there. It is all explained in the following press release. I will report back after the opening.

IV Passion for Freedom London Festival 2012 presents artists who dare to take action next door to Tate Modern.

Ferri Farahmandi, “Serene”

Ferri Farahmandi, “Serene”

For the fourth time the annual festival will take place in Unit24 Gallery in London’s South Bank. Artists from 30 countries around the world have entered their work into the competition this year. During the festival we can see the works of 37 artists from countries spanning the globe including Cuba, Pakistan, China, Poland, Afghanistan, UK, Italy and USA.

‘Artists using mediums such as video, installation, painting and sculpture openly debate issues that are usually swept under the carpet.’ It is important to remember that our society takes freedom for granted. Being interested in ‘the next big thing’ we forget that what we have was fought for and has to be protected.’ – says Agnieszka Kolek, KM Curator.

The exhibition’s message strongly comes across with Sarah Maple’s work “Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction”. Invited to be a Special Guest Artist; Sarah decided to confront the viewer with their own reflection. ‘It is like everyone can be an activist in their everyday lives through small acts.’ – says Sarah.

‘We should have no illusion that Twitter or Facebook will free us.’ –says Marianna Fox, Assistant Curator. ‘On Friday, 9 November there is a special screening of “Ai Weiwei Never Sorry” documentary by Alison Klayman. It shows how even in a global village connected through social media Chinese authorities could persecute the artist by beating him up in secret detention, bulldozing his newly built studio and limiting his access to the outside world. Artists, such as Ai Weiwei pay the highest price for making meaningful art. ’ – comments Marianna.

The Festival does not only promote art dissidents from aboard. ‘There is an eminent danger that our society is censoring itself without obvious totalitarian states imposing laws upon us.’ – says Agnieszka. ‘Many European galleries were afraid to exhibit my installation “PO.Box to Allah” in their spaces. I have never given up hope to make a statement on freedom of religion and freedom of speech wherever on earth people will be.’ – says Johan van der Dong (The Netherlands). 

This year’s festival has also seen many artists who want to bear witness to the oppression of others. “Attempted Erasure” from Marina Abramovic’s collaborator John Bonafede (USA) presents documented performance dedicated to Tibetan folks while Liz Gascoigne (UK) video “No Spring without Women” explores Yemeni women’s response to the so called Arab Spring.


Al Teleki, “Cyclops”

A different approach is shown by Al Teleki (Hungary/Austria) in his ready-made installation called “Cyclops”. “I have used a guitar as an allegory. In classic still-lives, they are reference of divine perfection expressed through music. Also, the curved shapes of string instruments are reminiscent of female forms and often inspire and represent sensual or erotic emotions. The depiction of a guitar covered by a niqab addresses the subject of both speech and eroticism of women in Islamic culture. How do the veils of religion affect the most basic human traits such as freedom of speech, sexuality and our relation to society? Do our beliefs enhance our nature, or do otherwise?”- asks Al.

Passion for Freedom is non partisan and voluntary organisation gathering professionals working in arts and media. As individual activists they responded to Maryam Namazie’s “One Law for All” campaign which exposes the discriminatory nature of Sharia tribunals in the UK. As a result the first edition of non-profit London Festival took place in 2009. The annual celebration of Freedom takes place in a spacious, contemporary gallery next to Tate Modern.

The festival aims to attract attention to the importance of freedom for the healthy societies to grow and thrive. ‘We feel disgusted by the treatment of women, whether political opponents like Pussy Riots in Russia or ordinary citizens, doomed to be second class due to their gender or sexuality.’ – says Marianna Fox, Assistant Curator.

Passion for Freedom uses the universal language of art to strengthen timeless values for the benefit of our societies.

See works censored by others shown for the first time in the City of Freedom – London. 

Special Artist Guest: Sarah Maple 

Shortlisted artists: Hangama Amiri, Osailys Milian Avila, Maureen Bachaus, Eskild Beck, Azadeh Behroozi, Eliza Bennett, Gary Betts, John Bonafede, Elisabeth Sarianne Breuker, Victoria Burgher, An Deceuninck, Fiona Dent, Johan van der Dong, Alice Eikelpoth, Ferri Farahmandi, Luciana Franzolin, Liz Gascoigne, Helen Gorrill, Georges Hala, Paul Harrison, Haleh Jamali & Monica de Ioanni, Joy Johnson, Matthew Lloyd, Peter Leigh, Michael Massaro, Wendy Nelson, Renato Niemis, PACORROSA, Abdullah Qureshi, Ricky Romain, Sausan Saulat, Schgor Francesca, Maria Strzelecka, Stephanie Taugner, Al Teleki, Matylda Tracewska

UNIT24 Gallery 

Exhibition runs: 3 – 10 November

Opening times: Mon – Fri 9 – 6pm Sat 10-2pm

Passion for Freedom 




Chronosemiotics: art tackles the gap between science and religion

Our relationship with the non-obvious relies on understanding, and then on mentally visualizing or representing that understanding. The most direct way of transmitting it, is through sensory representations which connects to others, rationally, emotionally, or both.

To an extent, this is why art exists: it allows us to abstract and transmit the understanding or the experiences of the “non-obvious”.

Along history, we have attempted many ways of explanations, all of which have been fixed in artistic representations. Notably, religion has defined us with the non-obvious and has given explanations about the essence of what makes us, or of who we are.

Science has revolutionized and redefined not only what these relationships are, but also what the non-obvious is.

Inevitably, it has led to a clash, and to a crisis. It has obliged us to re-think our basic axioms and postulates of, who are we, where do we stand, and where are we going.

A crucial factor is time: change and chronological relationships, causality, and the semiotics of moments. While religion tells us to stand still, sciences oblige us to evolve. Religions, act like a Maxwell demon that removes entropy in an impossible way, while science gets rid of this demon, letting entropy to evolve, thus allowing the arrow of time to emerge.

The conflict, our conflict, resides on how to relate to our past, and what to expect from the future. Religion frames our spirituality on belief, while science abandons it. This is the source of our crisis.

To an extent, art covers this gap. But for most, art is too external, too impersonal. Yet, art is the expression of the non-obvious, and which is nothing but our longing to understand, how we relate with our past, and, with our future.

Exhibition review: Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern

Damien Hiirst Exhibition at the Tate ModernI can make sense of Hirst’s exhibition on the premise that he wants to make the mortal and ephemeral, lasting and timeless. Dead animals that would have normally lasted a few weeks are suspended in formalin, and will remain there for as long as we keep the piece. Pills that last a swallow and cigarette that are smoked in a puff are protected from their final fate by being locked away in the cabinets.

Hirst uses the living and “once lived” in an aesthetic attempt. This is an important aspect, because it does confront you with the nature of being: your inside is something like this –as gory as it might seem-, it questions: how superficial is your sense of beauty?- Stimulants, Mother and child (divided), directly expose you with the inner structure of the animals, and even The physical impossibility […] and The Kingdom (sharks suspended in formalin) have the effect that visitors incline to see inside the mouth of a shark, or to see how they look underneath, awaking our most basic sense of curiosity that is what drives science.

A turn to this comes with the anatomical ready-made in the vitrines (so and so), which are glorified in the 6 mt. tall Hymn, a bronze replica of one of such anatomical models (ready-made as the rest of the items in the pharmacies), and the Anatomy of an Angel, which demystifies an otherwise classic type of sculpture by showing an angel as any other creature with inner organs.

All these pieces question our notions of beauty, and of transcendence, which are reinforced by A Thousand Years, a magnificent installation that is biologically dynamic and shows the process of decomposition of a cow’s head, albeit not in an isolated manner, but in its trophic interaction with a stock of living flies.

Actually, guts and dead and rotting animals did not disturb me. Although in the beginning they attracted me, they didn’t raise a particular interest after a second look. The reason perhaps, is that they are too obvious, and little is left to be questioned or interpreted. Sure: there is death, its meaning and all the classic dilemma, approached from a perspective that is more biological than spiritual or philosophical. Admittedly, this is a substantial advance, although Hirst is hardly pioneering the subject.

The Incomplete Truth

The Incomplete Truth, 2006. On the background: Remembrance, 2008.

On the other hand, the simplicity of Hirst’s ideas is one of the elements that makes Hirst’s art interesting, which is something that also applies to the rest of the exhibition, not only to organic media. As in everything in art, there is a fine balance between the intention and the representation. Hirst manages to confront us with basic ideas in such a way that we can relate immediately, either negatively with a sense of disgustingness and rejection (carcasses), or positively with a sense of beauty (butterflies arranged in harmonious ways Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, Sympathy in White Major, or even alive In and Out of Love). In fact, these two ways of relating to Hirt’s art evoke our instinctive emotions for life and death: we accept life and we reject death in a natural way.

But there is also another turn to this dichotomy, perhaps in a more subtle way: the use of flies (dead as in Black Sun and alive as in A Thousand Years) which in the classic imagery of the still life represents evil or death, versus a white dove with spread wings (The Incomplete Truth), which we clearly relate in Christian tradition as the holy spirit. These elements are also addressing the fundamental subject much explored in classic and modern art of good and evil, or heaven and hell.

Art & Science.

Hirst employs techniques for the morgue and from the lab in order to build certain pieces. But all this could equally be Art & Butchery, Art & Fisheries, Art & Phamacy. However, Hirst uses creatures with which, again, he intends to evoke in us the basic instincts about life and death. Cows and sharks are perfect examples of these two extremes. Yet, does the use of these methods make his art, science? If they do, it is science as in school, not as in the lab of a research institute, or as in Celera Genomics. We might call this superficial (many do). Even if that might be the case, Hirst’s installations brings us back to the most basic element of what science is about: it makes you question about facts and processes of the natural world (as is the transition from life to death, discussed in several of Hirst’s pieces). And this is the core of what science is: questioning and understanding by observation. Hence, it is not the methods that he is using what make the intersection with science, it’s the purpose what does it. The methods are inevitably needed by the nature of the organic medium he is using.

Video art and pop.

The exhibition contains a series of videos that have been produced or directed by Hirst. These are very varied in their style and nature. Whilst the older videos have an artistic nature, addressing subjects such as accidents or suicide, the later ones have a focus that demands not an artistic audience but a pop audience.

In general lines, the exhibition was kind of repetitive. Nearly every room has dot paintings, dot paintings, and also some other dot paintings. The monotony of these gave me the feeling of the lack of development of the ideas of the dots and pills (which are not unrelated pieces, as the dot paintings bear chemical names of pharmaceuticals). Also the organisms suspended in formalin are recursive. Together, the dots, pills and animal suspensions dominate the exhibition. But you do find a much wider range of pieces.

Often, the use of colour stroked me as exaggerated and unnecessary, giving the feeling of being in a circus (spinning paintings, Loving in a World of Desire, Boxes, and even the pills), which was only reinforced by his video A Couple of Cannibals Eating a Clown. Although in the dot paintings and the butterfly pieces achieve a more balanced color harmony.

Hirst manages to challenge your idea of what art is. Ai Wei Wei comes to my mind; he said that Art is about an attitude.

This is why what Hirst does is art.