“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
Milan Kundera, The Ubearable Lightness of Being
I first started thinking about an exhibition inspired by the Franco-Czech novelist's masterwork in 2002. While it never came to fruition at that time, its concept lingered for a long time to resurface only 14 years later, as the project presented today at Diana Lowenstein Gallery. The exhibition, as presented here, was triggered by a series of encounters with several artists that took place over the last couple of years while traveling throughout Eastern and Central Europe as well as Cuba.
The featured artworks encompass a wide variety of media and approaches, yet they are all somehow connected to the dichotomy of lightness and weight, either because of their ephemeral nature and real or apparent lightness, or weight, of the materials employed to create them, or because of their ability to address profoundly personal as well metaphysical issues and express them in subtle and poetic forms through their practices.
Kundera, in response to the question noted in the excerpt above, tells us that Parmenides, the Greek philosopher who lived in the sixth century BCE, came to the conclusion that lightness is positive and weight negative, however I find myself in agreement with the author when he claims that "the only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all".
It is their ambiguous nature, in fact, the thin red line that connects the artists and artworks in the exhibition.