Time will explain it all. He is a talker,
and needs no questioning before he speaks.
The main character of Michael Ende`s book, Momo, a poor orphan child living in an amphitheatre on the outskirts of a big city, is described by the German author as the last survivor of a society where people still enjoy the taste of time. The child is a witness to the process in which capitalist rationality whose logic lies in the principles of efficiency and accumulation slowly replaces a rationality based on the ludic joy of play and tell. As it stands, Ende`s book is a prophecy of our contemporary history, where the scientific approach supporting relativity has its counterpart in another kind of relativity that measures spent moments in consumed capital, a connection between time and money. But, as it argues for a final happy end, where Momo releases the stolen hour lilies and redeems them to the people to which they belonged - Ende`s story transfigures itself into a play of liberated identities which find their way out of ignorance
to regain a knowledge of looking back into their own hearts.
It is tempting to think of Momo as the prototype of the artist: an inventive character with imaginative thinking, involved in society with the large power to listen and comprehend, taking sides with the underprivileged - a bricklayer, an innkeeper, a road sweeper, a guide - creating scenarios (make-believe) that potentiality become alternatives for reality. But if this hypothesis is correct, then should we think of the artist as the character who has the best chances to make us return to ourselves in finding the lost (stolen) time -
Visiting the works done by Tatjana Fell in the frame of the exhibition On the Bottom of Time is an opportunity to put these thoughts to test. Or, as the circle of interpretation goes in spirals, it is better to say: viewing these works constitutes an occasion to remember a story of innocence, where the life value of the aesthetics of time is revealed in a journey from the outside of the Lebenswelt towards the inside of the heart, which artistically represented itself, in order to go back to the artist`s reflections and put them in a new light. It turned out that Tatjana Fell chose to perform a task that is both the easiest and the hardest. A trace of this difficulty can already be found in Saint Augustine`s Confessions. The Christian
philosopher declares his inability to pose the question about the nature of time while putting the interrogated person in the paradoxical position of being able and not being able to offer an answer: If you ask me what time is, I won`t be able to answer; but if you don`t ask me , I might be able to. Or, if I am allowed to continue this rationale, if no one asks what time is, then somebody might show its nature. The ontology is one of signs and symptoms.
Upon stepping into the gallery space, one cannot help detecting a refusal of grammatical coherence, a suspicion against the construction of a discourse. It is as though one fears language committing an act of parricide against the source of its being - the subject who utters, the artist himself. Because once set out there, the language claims its autonomy.
Instead, the artist chooses to take the middle path, between providing a clear answer to the ontological question and offering mere signs, hence words flowing on the wall, objectified as images. And through this process of reification they become objects of fictive study cases for any other human experience. The artist shows, indicates and builds text-images out of her own concepts, materialized on the left wall, in a passage of matter and time, from one side to the other, coming into being and disappearing as they came. In the narrative context already established by the art space and the work of art, these words lose their origins and become cases of what Mikhail Bakhtin called heteroglosia, the multivoicedness of language, a virtuality of words being uttered by an infinity of entities from the area of the social, independent of their status: perpetual shifting - continuous space - building timeframes - setting limits - living within borders - now - then - yesterday - tomorrow - neverever - yet - lost in the flow - falling - drowning - dissolving - scanning - locating - navigating - making decisions - creating time - living in time - yet. Words for remembrance.
But what is here wrapped up as a mere unconscious knowledge unfolds further and explicitly: a living sculpture of a multiplicity of voices creating common structures out of threads and wires; people sitting and talking, provided they agree to play the game. For here work is liberated from its social necessity and inverted, which configures itself not as free time to be wasted in the same manner in which stolen time is scaled into efficiency, but as willingness to cede to the other. Seen in a Bakhtian key,
this could be the only place where such a carnival could take place - a carnival, that is, a feast, a social explosion of joy, an escape from the or dinary, a transfiguration of the common. The core of the work lies in the play of imagination with its own possibilities supplemented by the will to approach the other with as little as one could afford. This is no experiment that the artist does - it is an exercise of confidence in the hermeneutic circle - what is at stake - the comprehension of the other in order to better understand oneself. There is no teleology here, as there is no final form of the knitting nest. Time becomes a framework, a background that awaits when people approach the work and the rest which is forgotten as knitting becomes the joy of meeting each other.
And finally, there is the forlorn amphitheatre. A deserted scene - the actors have left, or as Tatjana Fell puts it, an open studio, which misses its artist. Little Momo left the amphitheatre for days, years, eternities to travel to Nowhere House - from a logical point of view, nowhere has the same chances to burst into existence just as everywhere has - where she would eventually meet professor Secundus Minutus Hora - but this is just another metaphor for a significant immersion into the void of time
which is always a confrontation with one`s own subjectivity.
In the same manner the artist, Tatjana Fell, has left, and the sole traces she left behind are fragments of a past life that from moment to moment materialize into artistic works: a human life, an artist`s life as a
scale for time: a rocket launched and rapidly exploding - an image of a breath as a drop in the galactic ocean; an infinite gesture of obscuring and unveiling a woman`s face with the help of an endless thread - an equal movement as an equal passing, the same pace, the same rate of locomotion, as opposed to the agitated life we live in, prerequisite for an exotic philosophy of detachment and an exercise of sagesse, the ability of comprehending that everything comes and goes and nothing stays, or in other words, a strategy for staying safe; a TV program with no transmission - or better said, the absence of configured images is the presence of the whole transmission - or even better said, a Brownian motion of tiny
entities, a coincidence of trajectories, a contingence of existences which salute each other in a never-ending movement, a pathway to a thought of time for microscopic empires which we never see. Time has marked this studio and left it in clinical order, everything in its place, but as this work allows time to speak about itself, it concedes in return the value of a life-long artistic statement.
The ancient Greeks thought that every object moves towards its own private space, hence the possibility of movement. Beyond that, a question about the possibility of time still remains. In the absence of a life of its own that it might show, time speaks through the voice of those who find it and hear it. The works of Tatjana Fell have been left with the scars of time. The next move is ours.