Catalogue texts for the installations “Lighter than air - stronger than death”, Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall, Arendal 2003 and “As a feather through cosmos – like a stone”, Inselgalerie, Berlin 2005. Seed objects in limestone. Texts by Paal-Helge Haugen on stone tablets.
THE AMBIGUOUS OBJECT
Herbalists in ancient and medieval times thought that a seed was a visual essence of what was to unfold in the growing plant. At the same time the seed was a mystery, as expressed in the parable of the mustard seed: The smallest of all seeds that grew to a tree where all the birds of heaven nested. We too can experience the paradox of the seed: It is in rest, a still point between two dynamic processes, between decay and growth. It is taken out of time, because the indefinite present of the seed is materialised in the fusion of past and future.
There are seeds that lie dormant for centuries, millennia, in the desert, in tombs, in sarcophagi, before they are unearthed and sprout. A seed is pure latency, charged stasis. In itself unchangeable, it speaks of change. Carved in stone it becomes the image of an image, a sign as close to language as to the organic world. Light becomes heavy, small becomes large, the inorganic organic. In this paradoxical form the stone object faces two ways: towards the uncertainty of language and towards the certainty of growth and decay. Carved in stone the linguistic signs simulate a certainty that cannot exist.
While language can turn away from what it sees, the outside of the seed indicates an inside that only exists as something other, expressed through the transcendence of metamorphosis. Together seed and sign, semen and semeion, take part in a dissemination, an out-sowing, where meaning can never be harvested as other than potential meaning, like the seed-corn that is neither life nor death, but an object or a state cancelling opposites, transforming them into possibility and hope.
Paal-Helge Haugen, poet