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Dusk

03.08.—
14.09.24

SASHA HUBER, Sun (detail), 2022. Leaf gold on metal staples, linen, wood, 90 cm. (Leaf gold ethically sourced in Tankavaara, Lapland – initiated by Kultaus Snellman)

The interplay of light and dark offers both an enduring multimodal metaphor for artistic exploration and a particular and fundamental experience of material impermanence. In this exhibition, this interplay seeks to reach beyond visual dichotomies to quietly intimate a complex set of entangled material, social, historical, philosophical and political domains. At the heart of the exhibition is an expanded conception of ‘dusk’; which is variously conceived as a threshold at which fluidity and relational complexity actively counter dualisms.

 

From the Enlightenment through to modernity, light was conceptualised as a symbol of knowledge, rationality and progress. Yet this metaphor invariably implied a binary oppositionality to darkness, and by extension, helped to establish the ground for a host of binary distinctions underpinning colonial and racial ideologies. Enlightenment’s rationality, although radically liberating for some, would also entail a domination of nature, leading in part to forms of reason that are instrumental and reductive. Notwithstanding some Romantic and mystical resistance, the weight of this dualistic blindness was particularly resonant in the context of colonial expansion, where the ‘illumination’ of supposedly ‘dark’ continents paralleled an exploitative and oppressive devaluation of ‘non-enlightened’ cultures and peoples.

 

Here, European colonisation, which was deeply intertwined within an Enlightenment ethos, typically pitted the ‘civilised’ light of Europe against the ‘darkness’ of colonised lands and served as a justification for the subjugation and exploitation of colonised peoples. Consequently, this juxtaposition predicated racial hierarchies that would associate whiteness with enlightenment and darkness with primitivism. This dichotomy would also contribute to a radical reorganisation of time and space. Colonisers would impose their own temporal structures to better align local rhythms with the industrial and commercial demands of empire and capital. This restructuring was not just physical but also symbolic, imposing the violent ‘light’ of European rationality onto the ‘darkness’ of Indigenous temporalities and practices.

 

Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution would also introduce new currency to the interplay of light and dark through a transformation of labour through mechanised time. Extended working hours could now disrupt the natural cycle of day and night, ushering in a new era in which artificial light became a tool for extending productivity. In time, artificial light would be seen as not simply a symbol of progress and modernity but as a pernicious encroachment of industrial capitalism into the sanctity of night, traditionally a time of rest and respite.

 

Meanwhile, the Enlightenment binary of lightness/darkness would continue to influence systemic racialized thinking, where whiteness is often implicitly associated with knowledge, purity, and rationality, while Blackness is burdened with sometimes violently antithetical connotations. These legacies persist with hyperbolic ubiquity in the digital age, where for example, facial recognition technologies fail to accurately recognise darker skin tones, a failure that both metaphorically and literally limits the full spectrum of visibility.

 

Against this backdrop, Dusk seeks to encapsulate a realm that is neither wholly light nor dark but rather occupying a continuum of reality which is necessarily intermingled and multiplicitious in nature. Dusk also seeks to remind us of the inherent artificiality of clear-cut divisions of time and labour to instead see the interplay of light and dark as a profoundly complementary union. Here, our task is not to dispel darkness with blinding light but rather to appreciate the nuanced subtleties and gradations that dusk can reveal.

 

Curated by Cūrā8 and featuring:

 

Sasha Huber lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. Her provocative and materially exuberant multi-modal works explore the legacies of colonial and post-colonial relationships, particularly as experienced by the African and Caribbean diasporas. Huber variously uses photography, moving image, site-specific performance and collaborative research modalities to critically examine themes such as colonial-era pseudo-science, racial categorization, the transatlantic slave trade, memorialisation, and the implications of transnational capitalism. Born in 1975 in Zürich, Switzerland, to a Haitian mother and a Swiss father, Huber later relocated to Finland. Her nationally and internationally significant work stands as testament to a deep commitment to artistic research and speculative mediations upon complex historical narratives.

 

Petri Saarikko is a Helsinki-based artist and designer whose work integrates material artistic investigation with social critique and expertise in design and new media. His work implicitly challenges constructions of national identity, authorship and related political discourse by materially exploring tensions between “real” and “artificial” phenomena. Regularly collaborating with partner Sasha Huber, Saarikko is particularly invested in the experiential understandings of the world, particularly through the prisms of visible light and colour. This interest extends to contemplating how, for example, a painting, might transition from daylight into darkness, thus embodying the thematic essence of Dusk’s multimodal exploration of entangled social, historical, and philosophical domains.

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