The works in I’m Sorry, I Can’t, Don’t Hate Me by Vienna-based artist Marina Sula hover between the symbolic of the familiar and everyday, psychological inner worlds, and desire to unravel architectures of control both within and outside of the exhibition space.
I’m Sorry, I Can’t, Don’t Hate Me is set up as both functional and aesthetic space, where design furniture and “no needs”, a bench fitted with airplane seat belts, invite visitors to sit, linger and contemplate a variety of surrounding diversely sized prints sourced from the artist’s private archive. The black chairs, couches and benches, ambiguously reminiscent of a waiting room, an office, an airport or a hotel lobby scene, create a rigidly structured and almost sterile atmosphere that is seemingly at odds with the various techniques and motifs of the prints of intimate, mundane, consumerist and popular references.
On first glance, the images lack a unifying narrative. Rather, they propose a conceptual space in which art as high culture and non-art as low culture, and their respective systems of dissemination and reception, may share increasingly similar interests and functions. Sula extends her explorations of accessibility and class, interrogating the way representational mechanisms – the exterior – can infiltrate the interior and propagate memetically to form a unit of culture and a belief system. Individualism comes face to face with non-hierarchical presentation of variety of modes of production and (re)presentation in art, advertising and technology/social media. The image as therapeutic surface of projection, fulfillment and unity is questioned and suggested to be found in advertisement as much as in pieces of art; form proposed as a sublimation of the individual’s financial, intellectual, temporal and emotional investment.
The architectural set up allows for bodies in the exhibition space to become partakers both watching and being watched simultaneously and shifts the focus to the act of reception and expectation. What is the scope of criticality, whom is addressed and whom is listening? Is criticality towards art’s systems only made possible by those very same systems remaining unchanged? The exhibition’s title jokingly links a famous pop-cultural scene of a harsh break- up to questions of refusal, agency and co-dependencies artists and viewers are entangled in. Much beyond a cynical take on the matter, however, the artist proposes potential resistance within the body and more particularly in the act of translation from the material into the symbolic – such as Cinderella’s or Sailor Moon’s transformations in “Crisis, Make Up!” might be understood as the internalization of an exterior force or vice versa.
- Franziska Sophie Wildförster