SOFT DENIAL | FOTOPUB FESTIVAL 2017

Words by Curator Ilaria Speri

Here at Fotopub, we are often inspired by anomalies, under any form. Many of them show spontaneously, but we also more or less consciously look for them in our research paths. When we encountered Forlane 6 Studio’s work, the temptation to bring their aquatic explorations to Novo mesto was irresistible. A French duo of artists-snorklers based on Poros Island, Greece, named after the boat where their workshop is based – a Kirk Amel from 1973 –, Hortense Le Calvez and Mathieu Goussin carry out water-based projects. Their work revolves around the psychology of climate change and its emotional side effects. It involves the construction of fictional environments and objects, which often take shape in the form of site-specific installations. By literally drawing with wood and scrap materials, they produce exploded and fluctuating visions of a familiar, distorted and ever-changing reality. On the occasion of Fotopub, the experimental ground for their research has been the swimming pool of the local’s primary school, where Soft Denial takes place.

This work depicts a conflicted kitchen conversation, where one’s comfortable positions and beliefs are stretched. Through the water, the artists aim to enhance people’s common feeling of dissociation. Seen from above, the set up seems inoffensive and readable, but in the moment you put your head below so to observe the immersed objects, chaos arises and the situation gets harder and harder to comprehend.

Recently I stumbled upon an article by Michael Hoexter, «A Pocket Handbook of Soft Climate Denial». An interesting analysis on the many ways people accept, adapt or even neglect major collective issues such as global warming and environmental stress, sea-level rise, pollution, storms, droughts, mass-extinction, fresh water scarcity, energy depletion, tipping points, the end of the stable Holocene. Themes I feel close to in my daily life, which the reading of the article soon brought me to realize that they trouble me the most in the kitchen environment. There, where we have most conversations about these subjects with friends at dinner, while at the same time removing endless packaging to prepare meals. Generating waste. When confronting these matters from an emotional perspective, many defence mechanisms arise. If, at a first stage, we are tempted to look back to our primitive habits, soon we are naturally invited to embrace hedonistic behaviours, which often fall into defeatism and depression. This multitude of positions overlaps in agitation, revealing a generalized anxiety. The movements of the fragmented chairs represent the need to jump from an uncomfortable state of mind to the next. Albeit most discussions about climate change circle around facts and numbers, inner conversations can take place on a more intuitive and irrational level, one which surely needs the same degree of attention and externalization.

Hortense Le Calvez