This exhibition draws its reference from sometimes inexplicable human emotions and mindfulness. We begin our journey to mindfulness and emotional intelligence to recognise the various ways we are alive and lucid. Part of this process includes naming our feelings and emotions. It turns out there is a name for every feeling and emotional state we have ever felt. When there is talk of journeying, we think of how we are always on edge. Of change. Of wonder. Of calamity. Each of the artists’ works present the form by which to think through what these emotional states can present as. In his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig offers us the states of midding, wytai and the meantime. These three different emotional states offer a guide to mindfulness and how the artist’s subject, technique and process/practice can navigate these emotions.
These emotional states are defined thus:
Midding v. intr. feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it - hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, chatting outside a party while others dance inside, resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting upfront. The feeling of being blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is ok, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.
Wytai n. a feature of modern society that suddenly strikes you as absurd and grotesque - from zoos and milk-drinking to organ transplants, life insurance, and fiction - part of the faint background noise of absurdity that reverberates from the moment our ancestors first crawled out of the slime but could not for the life of them remember what they got up to do.
The Meantime n. the moment of realisation that your quintessential future self isn’t ever going to show up, which forces the role to fall upon the understudy, the gawky kid for whom nothing is easy, who spent years mouthing their lines in the wings before being shoved into the glare of your life, which is already well into its second act.
It makes one wonder what it feels like to fade happily into the background whilst fully present and part of a group. One wonders what it means never to need to be the centre of attention. How great would it be to be good at midding?
How wonderful would it be to focus on what is in front of you, or consider something carefully regardless of how mundane and dull it might be and be out of control of your mind? Wytai, referring the intellectualism of the age, emphasises the need to make sense of the absurd and grotesque as it naturally occurs. It encourages you to say “A Spade, A Spade” without worrying about being right. One thinks about how people do entirely unexpected things even when you believe you have them figured out.
“For the lack of a better word” becomes a cop-out when there are so many words out there that could adequately define and explicate the nature of some difficult to describe feelings or else numbingly overwhelming human emotions. This exhibition is an opportunity to think through how everything is delicately connected and how sometimes we can catch a flash of it all, and it is wondrous. Perhaps what Frederik van Eeden called lucid dreaming is what we need to think about during our state of wakefulness to be more aware of our emotions and in control. To believe we live in homes when we live in precipices, but we also bask in the knowledge that we are all ok and have to show up.