The Elements of Sadness

Statement for the solo exhibition at Goldsmiths College


For me photography is not conceptual activity, but a pure unconditional pleasure. I don't think when I take my photos but rely on intuition. I'm just looking around, waiting for a moment when something inside me responds to the outer configuration of colours and shapes. The art of pressing the button consists of capturing such moments.

Thinking goes afterwards. Looking at my pictures, I try to make sense of them. What do I see? I see that my sight fixes upon distortions, reflections, shadows, odd configurations or abstract forms. It doesn't really matter if these are people or things. It's not particular objects but a state of mind that is important.

I'd call this state of mind contemplation. Here, the opposition between the world and the mind tends to disappear; they become united by correlation and resonance.

A thing that induces certain states of consciousness, as we know from Pyatigorsky and Mamardashwili, is called symbol. But it may also be otherwise: consciousness, when it is alive, reveals symbols in reality (or creates them in the act of perception) as something in which it recognizes itself.

If understanding this experience of self-recognition in emotional terms, what is then the dominant feeling? For me - as I read the text of my own images - it is a deep and pervasive sadness.

Sadness is similar to happiness; unlike many other emotional states, these two are unconditional and total. However, it can be separated into a number of motifs which can be visually represented. These are solitude, the irreversibility of time, disorientation, futility, blindness, helplessness, uselessness, lack of firm foundation, destruction, impossibility of contact and other significations of want, voidness and impermanence.

At the same time, it involves the pleasure of contemplation, a feeling of universal correspondence and a vision of the abstract and timeless that shines through the transient and specific making it so beautiful and significant. The horror that sadness also embraces turns out to be the reverse of humour, and stark forms are but snapshots of the moving chaos.

Thus are the elements of sadness.


February 9, 2005

© Евгений Горный / Eugene Gorny, 2005-2022.
© Сетевая Словесность, 2007-2022.

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