The Self, The Other

An introduction through the work of Cindy Moorman

Photos taken during the exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space

Anonymity emerges as visual abundance in the exhibition space of Dapiran. The walls are strewn with a plethora of dots in red, yellow, and blue. As my brain engages in an equivocal search for patterns, my eyes regularly fall in and out of focus. In one instant, what appears to be a honeycomb motif swiftly disintegrates into yellow garlands, clumped together reds, and vast voids of blue. Taking a step back, I observe how the colours and fragments seem to gravitate back into their consolidated place.

The mob of dots resembles an anonymous mass of Others, from the position where I’m standing. I know myself not as Other; to myself, I am unique—a poor frame of reference when it comes to reality. To you, I am one of many. To you, I am the Other. One of those dots. One in the masses. Just an Other that you happen to live with, in a world that revolves around ‘the Self.’

Moorman’s tireless fascination for ‘the Mass,’ ‘the Self,’ and ‘the Other,’ become apparent in her photographs, performances, drawings and innumerable manually printed dots. Every single dot is unique, and therefor, ‘Self.’ But on the walls of Dapiran Art Project Space, ‘the Self’ is lost to the abounding foreignness of ‘the Other.’

Kaleidoscopic

Collapsing into one another, amid the kaleidoscopic of ‘you’ and ‘I,’ ‘the Self’ stands in direct opposition to ‘the Other.’ Moorman makes these oppositions apparent by making use of the primary colours: blue, red, and yellow. An antithetical palette, where each hue is at odds with the other within the colour spectrum. ‘The Other’ becomes unusually easy to define within Moorman’s work.  

Albeit perhaps less conspicuous, ‘the Mass’ is present in equal measure. ‘The Mass’ is the primary judge of ‘the Other.’ ‘The Mass’ can either harbour ‘the Self,’ or oust ‘the Self,’ should they not abide by social convention. The social constructs, norms, and values that are deemed acceptable can be sensed at a macro level. Passing judgement on one another’s decisions and characteristics, on the other hand, can be directly experienced at a micro level.

‘Othering’ occurs when someone or something falls outside of quotidian social constructs, and is consequently objectified as ‘Other.’ The eyes that scrutinize and objectify are omnipresent in Moorman’s work. Peering eyes, poring over parts of the whole, but then again transversing a different stratum; insolence?

Moorman gives shape to the invisible social constructs and interrelations that inarticulately govern our lives. Which space do I allocate myself within the whole? Can I abscond ‘the Other,’ whilst simultaneously embodying ‘the Other?’ When do I subsume myself within ‘the Mass’ and, free from subjectivity, pass judgement on ‘the Other’ as an object with static attributes? These are significant questions of conscience.

In order to gain further insight, Moorman freely zooms in and out of the relations between ‘the Self,’ ‘the Other,’ and the obscure ‘Mass.’ The potential for self-actualization lies within our conscious awareness of the structures we inhabit, Moorman elucidates. Her work interplays aesthetic observation with philosophical research and scientific understanding.

Positioning yourself within the world as a free individual is an uphill battle (though not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility, according to Sartre). To what extent are social constructs necessary in order to freely move, act upon, and shape ‘the Self?’ Where do the free individual and society exist in symbiosis?

Original text can be found in Dutch, here. Text translation by Josephine Baan.