The exhibition organised by Gregor Podnar presents recent works by Attila Csörgő and Vadim Fishkin, two artists of the same generation, that reveal a multifaceted dialogue of an imaginative world of physics, mechanics, puzzles, and dreams.
The following text by Viktor Misiano was commissioned for the exhibition Collisions and Missing Parts at Barriera, Torino in 2018. Viktor Misano is an art critic and independent curator living and working between Moscow and Cisternino (Italy):
It would appear that of all the forms of artistic practice mastered by Vadim Fishkin and Attila Csörgő, installation is the most important. It is in this format, in fact, that their most challenging and spectacular works have been created. The spectacle of these works is in part due to their three-dimensionality, as they often occupy a very significant space within the exhibition. Fundamentally however, their works not only occupy the space, they also create it. Miss Christmas by Fishkin, for example, visually impose certain parameters on the space they occupy that prior to their positioning did not exist at all. Often, even when their works assume two-dimensional form, such as in drawings or photographs like Collisions and Deviations by Csörgő, they create places in which transformations of space occur.
At any rate, as it has been known since the days of Aristotle, a thinker to which many works by one of the artists in question (Attila Csörgő) explicitly allude, space is only a series of places occupied by bodies. Given that bodies move by occupying and transforming spaces, and because movement possesses temporal dimensions, space is in- separable from time.
Generally, time manifests itself clearly and tangibly only in space. Confirmation comes from works like Collisions and Deviations by Csörgő. If we wish to continue linking their creativity to philosophical concepts of space and time, we might say that this also appears in the ideas of Aristotle and his successors like Leibniz and Einstein, and not in the tradition that goes back to Democritus and Newton. In terms of theory, we might also say that the relationship between these two fundamental categories is of relational rather than substantial nature in the works of both artists.
Accepting that Csörgő and Fishkin’s artistic research represents a staging of the processes of space and time, it follows that space and time are more than just a condition of their work, but also its means and theme. This propensity to tautology, as is also their desire to reveal a certain basic structure of being through their art, unveils their much closer affinity with the conceptual tradition (amply included) than with the science art that certain critics insist on citing.
Another definition in which such opposition is removed and reconciled can be proposed, however, in the extent to which both artists strive to return to the fundamental principles of Western thought in their efforts, reviving the Aristotelian category of téchne that viewed the artist’s work as being inseparable from that of the tradesman and scientist- inventor. For both artists, in fact, the idea is far from pure speculation, and always concrete and formulated by hand. The expressiveness of their works usually starts from an extremely inventive and scientifically-based concept but is primarily represented in visual form. Idea is reached through image, and beauty and usefulness are coessential for Csörgő and Fishkin.
Let us not forget, in the end, that the Ancients associated téchne with mimesis, because from their point of view, the creation of anything new occurs through the imitation of nature, and this is precisely what we see in the work of Csörgő and Fishkin. Presenting how space interacts with time, the artists are simply following in the steps of nature in which, as noted above, space and time are revealed through reciprocal contact. Nonetheless – here again showing their solidarity with the Ancients – Csörgő and Fishkin demonstrate that even when nature is dutifully followed, the creator has certain advantages over it. For Aristotle, art succeeds where nature fails because the human mind comes to its assistance. This is why both artists tend to nourish affection for craftiness and the paradoxical character of the concept, and no less for the scenic effect of its execution. While acknowledging the link between art and nature, defending the former’s autonomy is important for them.
Yet despite their confidence in the demiurgic potential of the act of creation, Csörgő and Fishkin’s artistic practice is scored by a fragility that sometimes approaches childlike theatricality; even if their artistic choices are scientifically grounded, all their works are permeated by a subtle but clearly perceivable irony. The Ancients considered irony an expression of virtue, because it attributes less than what actually exists, because rather than reveal, it conceals its knowledge. For Aristotle, the Father of the Peripatetics, irony was a manifestation of “the greatness of the soul”, a demonstration of a person’s detachment and nobility. Getting back to art’s original syncretism, Csörgő and Fishkin are convinced that art’s intentional artificiality is a useful instrument in learning the truth and that creativity, above all else, expresses a humanity in which aesthetics and ethics have not yet diverged.CONDO London hosting Gregor Podnar, Berlin, installation view, 2019. Photo: Andy Keate.