In his essay ’On Transience’, written in 1915, Sigmund Freud recalls a conversation with a
poet (believed to be Rainer Maria Rilke) while being on a nature walk, which centred around
one of the fundamentals of beauty: its transitory nature. The poet, in the advent of the First
World War, is disheartened by the thought of the destruction of all that is beautiful around
him, which resulted in him not being able to enjoy the surrounding landscape. He voices his
anguish by noticing ”[a]ll that he would otherwise have loved and admired seemed to him to
be shorn of its worth by the transience which was its doom”.
Freud disagrees and argues, that due to its transience, an object, in particular beautiful
objects, may have its worth increased by its fleetingness and suggests: “Limitation in the
possibility of enjoyment raises the value of the enjoyment. It was incomprehensible [...]
that the thought of transience should interfere with your enjoyment of it”.
This exhibition, entitled ‘transience and transformation’ aims to build up on Freud's remarks
and tries to raise the question whether beauty is truly ephemeral, if it could be elevated or
immortalised by transformation or if the transformative aspect is what truly encapsulates
beauty. This show will bring together artists who take nature or natural processes as a starting
point, or a cornerstone of their work.
Ephemeral art, getting noticeable attention in the 1960s with the Fluxus group, is by definition
transitory, short-lived and gives a whole new objective to the art being created. As Freud
pointed out, an intrinsic part of fleetingness: it inevitably points the direction towards loss and
mourning, but by this fluctuating state of ephemeral things, it opens up a way for artists to
work on themes of existence and decay.
The exhibition's second segment, the transformative aspect brings together artists whose
practise utilises nature as a foundation to build upon, and by that directly or indirectly
preserving or accentuating, one could say elevating it to another level. The artists are giving
their surroundings the power to leave a mark in the artworks produced.
Thirdly there will be artworks featured that combine both, the transient as well as the
transformative aspect. By utilising materials that are instable to some degree or receptive to
their surroundings; be it humidity, temperature or light intensity. This approach creates
artworks that will transform themselves throughout their lifetime, presenting the beholder
with an ever-changing visual incarnation.