Jano Ballx

in cooperation with Lucia G. Stachová

Mar 18, 2015 - Apr 23, 2015
Galéria HIT, Bratislava

Mar 18, 2015 6PM


The polysemic Subterra is, for me, also a highly nostalgic place – nostalgic in the compound sense of the original meaning of both the words that comprise it: nostos for homecoming from long journey, and algos for pain (which in this case is the pain of returning).
My 15-month-old son is learning to talk, already using the word mama. He first formed the word as a composition of the sound “ma” which, when he was even younger, was one of very first vocal sounds. “ma” expressed a longing for something which belonged to him, along with an interjection of closeness, of maternal love. The same “ma” represented also physical contact with the breast, pulling the milk, warmth and physical touch from the soft, amorphous form. He would point to things and people, and say “ma, ma…”. From the first this was obviously not about an isolated object, but rather tender utterance about subjective experience of an inner emotion. The word mama could also be generally understood as an interjection, and for me it is likewise a lonely inner space: a topographic place that includes a sense of unfilled longing.
Experimental exploration of my own feelings of an inner underground and psychological Subterra is at preverbal depth. One can possibly go even deeper, to the time of intrauterine merging in the mother’s body: where I have no direct connection compared with present experiencing of this specific period of time and space around me – the time since my kids were born. I have now the precious connection to their experiencing through the co-experiencing and intimate closeness we share. It is inevitably a definite exile after one was expelled – probably from primordial paradise, unconscious and confluence – into laboriously creating one’s own identity inside an inner body and outside in relationships with others. This is the time that the sense of who I am is formed: figuratively, the phase when the seedling sprouts from underneath to above.
This “above” is an idealized authenticity, even to the endlessness of uniqueness and grandiosity, and is surely one of the most powerful of inner experiences, to be oneself, to emerge. This emerging can be experienced for the first time by children when forming habits and hygiene, in which case it is also the foundation of healthy psychological development and self-value.
An adult individual can become hung up on a strange aggression toward content, just for the sake of preserving form (for instance: if we would, for fascination about shiny gloss, force ourselves to forget about the chocolate inside of a golden ormolu). I suppose that in societal life such aggression can come across as an external identification with symbols and polar victimization. As an example from my own personal story, the question many people have of whether or not I am a professional artist falls into this category, an attack on content for the purpose of preserving a consequently irrelevantly hollow form. What I perceive as an important boundary of who I am is primarily my reciprocal relationship with specific others and to my own self and its inner content of personal experience. In relations that I co-create when painting, I feel authentic.
The first small precious *hit is a poo - “little shit” but latter and adult *hit could be also “big shit”: strike, success, appreciation, something having weight and meaning, or its opposite as well. With the *hit exhibit, I am offering my own form and content; what spectators perceive is up to them, to the context they come out of, to what they want to take in and what they need to refuse – mentally or physically to excrete, suppress, cleanse into anesthesia – burying senses, grounding them in to the night and under the surface in unliving subterraean space and darkness. Into where underground entities lie, where city sewers lead, protecting the modern metropolis from the plague of epidemics, where we today have pushed even the urban arteries of transportation and communication, the vital vehicles of the anthropocene epoch. The seedling abandoned too deep underground will never develop, if you grind it down, if you deprive it of room to grow, of nutrients, water, warmth or the rays of the sun.

Ján Ballx 2015-04-19