Artist Statement


November 4 - December 9, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 4, 4-7 PM
Artist Talk: Friday, November 17, 11 AM

Artist Statement:

Maradj helybe. Stay in place.

I don’t like the concept of mantras—appropriative, sure, but also something a therapist bored of you might suggest. (I find it insufferable that I once headed off a panic attack by quietly singing to myself “truth hurts, needed something more exciting.” Item number 5 on the therapist-printout I rolled my eyes at and then quickly folded into fourths and kept in my wallet for several months last year. On the opposite end, my true failsafe coping mechanism—cold—I find fascinating, exhilarating, poetic. Shocking the body to calm the mind: noble; distracting the mind to calm the body: cheap trickery.) If I had one, though, this would be it. The English translation is flat, like it always is. Doesn’t carry centuries of a people defeated, of the small and sad and singular Magyars. Of my family, of moving and mothers and mutability.

Place is perhaps not a revolutionary thought on the occasion of one’s first site-specific installation. And yet: two summers ago I returned to Budapest for a two-month residency, a retread of pilgrimages from Julys and Augusts of childhood. I thought I’d make work there about place. Acacia trees and panelház apartment blocks and the new M4 metro stations, Fővám and Szent Gellért (I can’t find words to describe why every time I stepped off the escalator here I discovered I was involuntarily holding my breath, or why I sunk my fingerprints into the tiles like they were still leather-hard clay I could imprint). I couldn’t make the work; it was all too much—Imre Bak and the roof of the Iparművészeti Museum and newish thresholds against ancient-to-me wood floors. Instead I returned to place a year later with this work, Helybe. This cyclical revisitation is a pattern I should be able to predict by now but instead still catches me by surprise. 

To meander back to place, though: it’s there (and I’ve attempted to displace and transplant it here, a process as likely to go awry as
repotting a plant or moving a family across continents), and within it I’m thinking more about making sense, about sense as something to be made. Just a cheeky linguistic overlap, maybe, like its definitions: 

  1. a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus
  2. a keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something
  3. a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems

I sense (meaning 2) there’s something there though. Let’s try out defining the nonsensical as that which we can’t connect to our senses (meaning 1). Smart people like Siri Hustvedt have things to say about our arbitrary (my word) mind-body divide inherited from the Greeks, the feminization of the body, and the subsequent subjugation of the physical experience to the sense (meaning 3) of the masculine mind.

I love to be barefoot, the derision-invitation of “go touch grass,”
my sister’s forest bathing voice:
          normal breaths, nothing fancy

                   picture yourself growing roots from this place

 Helybe. Maradj helybe.