Otto Piene [Bad Laasphe,1928 – Berlín, 2014], one of the pioneers in the use of light in art and one of the founders of Group Zero, decided to work with this medium after he experienced and suffered the terrible period of darkness which came during World War II. Therefore, after this bleak time of his life when the conflict was over, the artist was determined to use light, perhaps as a necessity, and as the natural source which inspired him to create his artwork with the perspective of a more positive reality yet to come.
He said recently before his death, that society and humankind forget quickly the terrible things of the past, consequently we are now threatened by shades of uncertainty in a fragile and confused present where it seems that the real enemy remains hidden under multiple identities impossible to apprehend. I wonder if our society would be that different if we would just take more time to see the natural phenomena around us with curious eyes in order to explore and to really feel and experience the world as it is.
We are one with the universe and we feel it, dancing under the sound of darkness becoming a unique voice when the clamor of the day is gone. Light which weakens the fear that remains in the shadows, bringing some comfort to the immensity of the void which stands above us. Joseph fills this obscurity with works awakened by the shades of a full moon, while the night softened by the light illuminates its shadows. Elena Narbutaitė transforms reality propelled under a magnificent spell which makes our eyes feel covered with velvet and sand, then everything standing in front of us melts in a more uniform appearance which lowers its presence, and it is under this silence when we start seeing the unseen.
It comes to my mind an episode of The magic mountain when his protagonist Hans Castorp remembers a special moment in a particular day. He recalls that being still daylight he saw in the very same sky the sun fading and the moon rising, just at the moment when the light is not too bright, in the interlude when one side of the earth goes away from the light during its every day rotation over itself. In this evanescent instant the satellite and the star meet each other in what can be read as a beautiful metaphor of life.
Joseph by Elena Narbutaitė imagines a new threshold which links different worlds emerging from distant horizons like the reflection of a mirror, a place without clear answers where we only find a puzzle of fugitive uncertainties. Upon entering a thin metallic door ensorcelled by the echoes of a pristine score we will soon notice the volatile nature of things that only endure in our personal imagery: Stars flickering in the night like a heart beating rapidly in the blackness, while the silence spreads allowing us to feel our blood flowing and to sense our bodies synchronize with the rhythm of the stars shining.
Elena Narbutaitė subtly brings light to the audience, illuminating those things that remain in the obscurity, capturing this precise glimpse which makes the invisible visible. Her delicate promenade through every project is gifted with a sense of reality which filters her diverse interests whether these be in science or literature, allowing her to translate or to reinterpret the object of her study into other drifts that converge in new strategies of her speculative research.
Accompanied by tails of golden comets, rising silvery nebulas and green beating stars…this is how I see Elena Narbutaitė when she undertakes her daily journey. Like a night walker who explores and feels the world with fresh and new eyes, like a character from a Thomas Mann novel with her mind open and reflective, Elena seems to belong to a more literary universe, where she invites you to enter through unexpected projects that make your earthly experience different and lighter.
Joseph is named after Thomas Mann’s book Joseph and his brothers, the immense tetralogy which is without any doubt his more ambitious work. In the book the author uses myth and history as a way to leave the narrow thinking of nationalism and to take the path to more open convictions which may be understood in a more universal way. Bringing some light and ethics to this world.