The Ideal and the Actual

Marjolein Blom, Matthieu Litt

April 8, 4 pm
Marjolein Blom and Matthieu Litt

The Ideal and the Actual
In the exhibition The Ideal and the Actual Galerie Caroline O’Breen shows A Monkey Peeled an Onion… [In Search of Nothing] by Marjolein Blom and Matthieu Litt’s Horsehead Nebula. Both series are about visualising the unimaginable in their own way. Blom helps us to visualise “nothing” and Litt is giving a vision of an ideal world or a “terrestrial paradise”. The title of the show refers to the theory of Forms, or the theory of Ideas by the Greek philosopher Plato. According to Plato our world is not the real world, the real world as Plato points out is the world of Ideas or the Ideal world. In our world we only see shadows mimicking the forms and ideas from that ideal world. In their series, both artists try to visualise fragments of this ideal world that exist of ideas and concepts that are for us impossible to visualise.

2017, Archival print on fine art paper, framed in maple, 38 x 58 cm, 5 + 2 AP

Marjolein Blom – A Monkey Peeled an Onion..
In A Monkey Peeled an Onion.., Blom focuses on the history and science of the nature of the vacuum. Central to her work are ancient questions about the mystery of creation and the emergence of something out of nothing: What is nothing? and what remains if we take all matter, the earth, the stars, all molecules, atoms, away? What does a vacuum look like?

By visualizing philosophical theories and scientific experiments about the vacuum, Blom guides the viewer into these discussions and leads him past some of the great thinkers and most revolutionary scientific theories in history. Thus inviting the viewer to philosophize themselves about the physical meaning of ‘nothing’.

At the same time Blom’s work is an ode to the importance of academic freedom. The possibility for scientists to challenge established truths and expand the boundaries of our knowledge, is a prerequisite for new scientific revolutions to occur.  However, in the past years several impulses and trends such as political interference, dependent funding and the increasing importance being attached to utility values, are putting academic freedom under renewed pressure. Using her artistic freedom by intuitively visualizing these theories and experiments, Blom modestly opposes to the instrumental view, that both art and science should exist primarily to serve the needs of society.

Marjolein Blom, Thales #4,from the series A Monkey Peeled an Onion…, 2017

You take an onion and peel it and peel it, right to the heart, and there’s nothing there. There must be something, you believe, there must be- you take another onion and start peeling it, keep on peeling, at last, nothing… Do you understand the sadness of this monkey?
– Dazai Osamu, ‘A Record of the Autumn Wind’

Matthieu Litt, Untitled #7 from Horsehead Nebula, 2015.

Matthieu Litt Horsehead Nebula
On the first sight Horsehead Nebula seems like a series of documentary photographs depicting a people: their culture and their surroundings. However, Litt describes that these photographs were taken in the area of the Faristan, a place that is impossible to find on any map.

The photographs from Horsehead Nebula are actually taken at different places. Therefore the series makes us aware of our perception of photography and thus our perception of reality. It questions our ability to stay critical when looking at photographs that seems to tell us an objective story about this people of the Faristan. The familiar language of documentary photography, misleads us into interpreting the images in a certain way.

By combining photographs that were taken at various places of different people a new world is created in which borders are literally crossed. A new land is imagined. Therefore the series becomes a “quest for the sublime”, a search for a “terrestrial paradise”. Becoming aware of our prejudices that came to mind, Litt gives us a hint of an ideal country in which a place is not defined by its borders, a place on a map or by our prejudices.

The exhibition runs from March 3 till April 14.

Matthieu Litt, Untitled #9, from Horsehead Nebula, 2015,