Every tree stands in silent thought
Curator: Klaudio Štefančić Designers: Nina Bačun & Roberta Bratović
The Gallery Galženica, Velika Gorica
There is a series of exhibitions hiding under the umbrella title of Inner museum, and the first one is dedicated to the phenomenon of solitude. Almost all social and natural sciences agree that humans are primarily social beings. Social interactions determine our character, our actions and our moral values to a large degree. Starting from the very first contact with our parents or guardians, through the adaptation to new environments (school), to the purposeful participation in the community, intersubjective relations are essential for normal human development.
Language acquisition, developing behavioural social patterns, compassion, intelligence, etc. are just some of the properties which we perceive as positive and automatically associate with sociability. On the other hand, the majority of deviations in human development – from childhood to socially responsible adulthood – are associated with the absence or some kind of a deficiency in the socialization process. Popular culture, proverbially prone to simplification, thus portrays people who prefer solitude as weirdos living on the social margins of class, space, ethics or aesthetics.
Sociologists and philosophers argue that subjectification – adoption of certain technologies of becoming a subject – is impossible to achieve without maintaining a certain distance from the society, keeping some amount of autonomy. Being a subject means to be in full possession of one's faculties, to make one's decisions independently. To be liable for one's actions implies a special relationship with oneself and others. “I” is the Other and the Other is “me” – this is the formula of subjectification and it is, perhaps, the best reflection of the dialectic relationship between solitude –“I” as a unique phenomenon – and the community – a group of people who share a common origin, characteristics, interests, etc.
In every community, solitude is considered as a suspicious occurrence. Within the framework of pre-modern societies, every “outcast” could find a more or less safe haven, some purpose for him/her to fulfil, while in the modern society, it seems that there's nothing but penal code and medical sciences to regulate this phenomenon. Solitude is thus a by-product of the modern society, a certain surplus of subjectification which is hard to position on the increasingly fluid map of the society. However, in the context of war and colonial conquests, in science or art, solitude is not only tolerated, but it is celebrated, even when it appears in its psychological or social extremes. In these contexts, this modern, floating subject is recognized as a warrior, adventurer, a pioneer, an artist, a genius inventor. For which image looms more powerfully in the background of the collective imaginary than the stereotypical figure of a lone warrior-stoic, an antisocial artist or a science freak?
Croatian language and, as it seems, all Indo-European languages basically distinguish two types of this phenomenon: solitude and loneliness. Although in both cases there's a distance maintained from the society, the noun “loneliness” bears the signification of the more sombre side of this separation. Unlike solitude which can be voluntary, prolific, and even happy, loneliness seems to be more dependent on external factors: the economic and historical processes which determine the way we live. Unfortunately, the current economic crisis has emphasized this aspect of solitude, while the figure of a homeless person is becoming a globally recognized symbol of rejection and isolation.
For centuries, art has been the primary environment where solitude resided, either as a sanctuary of contemplation and concentration or as a subject of depiction. There are two moments which almost always coincide: the moment when a person feels for whatever reason isolated and alone in one's own community and the moment when a person seeking understanding and acceptance turns to art. However, it wasn't only the content of art which cultivated the human tendency for solitude. From the invention of the printed media, we as readers have been secluded from the society, through the movie theatre, which has isolated us in the dark tying us to the story, to the luminous computer or phone screens – these are all social phenomena which have shaped the culture of individualism and solitude.
Although art is the starting point of this exhibition dedicated to solitude, we also wish to include other areas where this phenomenon occurs. The purpose of the exhibition is to create an intertextual and intermedial network: one environment where the phenomenon of solitude could be more easily observed, followed and interpreted. In addition, the blog www.unutarnjimuzej.tumblr.com is a kind of an alternative exhibition space: everything which won't be displayed at the Gallery due to the physical, financial or conceptual restrictions, even though thought-provoking, will be presented here instead.
Monastic isolation characterized by work, fasting and prayer, is a different kind of solitude than the stream of consciousness of a lonesome stroller. The reasons for withdrawing from the world are numerous – cognitive, mental, recreational etc. – and the means of their implementation differ considerably. Let's get to know them!
K. Štefančić, curator