BARAD complex II

φαινόμενον / fainómenon : beyond the notion of entities

performative sculptural setting
inspired by the Agential Realism of Karen Barad
2022

Atelier Claudia Hartwig at "Ortstermin 22"
by Galerie Nord, Berlin

with financial support of NEUSTART KULTUR
Stiftung Kunstfonds

„Phenomena are not located in space and time; rather, phenomena are material entanglements - enfolded and threaded through the spacetimemattering of the universe.“

Karen Barad

The term phenomenon stems from the greek phainein, „to appear, become visible“ which itself emerged from phôs, „light“. The philosopher Emmanuel Kant saw phenomena as a combination of the impressions we perceive and our own cognitive abilities. He also stated that phenomena are situated in space and time. For Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, the term describes the lived processual experience of how an object manifests within a consciousness in space.

Glas, Metall, Nylonschnur, Lichtquellen

Karen Barad, the quantum physicist and philosopher, introduces an entirely different interpretation of the term, which deeply irritates our conditioned understanding concerning the world. As she points out in „Nature's queer performativity“: „According to my agential realist account... empirical claims do not refer to individually existing determinate entities, but to phenomena-in-their-becoming, where becoming is not tied to a temporality of futurity but rather a radically open relatingness of the world worlding itself.“ We cannot rely on clearly defined things or facts in our perception of the world, but have to perceive the lively process of permanent creation and recreation, caused by the world's inherent dynamics. By stating „Space and time are phenomenal, that is, they are intra-actively produced in the making of phenomena; neither space nor time exists as a determinate given outside of phenomena.“ she goes one step further and defines phenomena as the realm of creation of what we understand as the basic coordinates of our worldly orientation: space and time. Everything we perceive is thus being shaped by agential cuts within phenomena, which themselves are not graspable.

Is this the first step towards the transformation of the structure of our thinking as Heisenberg postulated at the dawn of quantum mechanics?

Barad's highly challenging performative approach to reality and her complex interpretation of phenomena find resonance in the specific sculptural setting of φαινόμενον / fainómenon. At first glimpse the sculpture might appear as a solid structure with a clearly defined shape, but by still observance its fragility, vulnerability and inherent dynamics will be perceived, its liveliness and creational potential unveiled. By the use of focussed and defocussed light further dimensions of the sculpture and its properties open up and with that a literally limitless range of alteration. Broken glass, usually associated with harsh qualities, like destruction, loss, uselessness, rigour, pain and grief, has been arranged in a particular way that transcends such categories, if not categories at all.