Obra, Lund
June 9 - July 7, 2023

+ Press release


Not "I think;' but "it thinks in me."

THOUGHT LIVES UNDERGROUND. What is the ground (Grund) of human consciousness – of subjectivity – the very essence that makes thought, hence spirit, possible? Does such a ground exist, and if so, to whom does it belong – to the I, or to an it (...) or perhaps to nothing at all? (...) for psychoanalysis, the unconscious is the primordial ground of consciousness – an underground abyss that inhabits the psychic space between reason and desire, intuition and thought, between the I and the it. And it is such that this abyss within psychic space is itself a space, a pit that divides conscious­ness from what it is not, the known from the unknown. (...) the unthought that dwells underground hibernates in its pit, an eternal slumber. Such hibernation, however, is not the passive peacefulness of sleep, rather, it is an activity, an unrest of the soul.

Image courtesy: Petter Dahlström Persson 

And Always into the Unbounded Goes a Longing, 2023
Series of five drawings 
Loose pigment (Mars Black, Shungit traditional Icon Painter’s Black, and Graphite) on polycarbonate sheet
Dimensions variable 

Untitled, 2023
Markings on found text
30 x 21 cm

Untitled, 2023
Riza (metallic covering of a Russian Orthodox icon)
Found object
18 x 22,5 cm

THE TITLE OF MARTINE  FLOR’s exhibition “Ungrund” comes from the Christian gnostic Jakob Boehme (1575–1624), whose first major spiritual revelation arrived to him through the reflection of sunlight on pewter. This epiphany suggested to him the spiritual structure of the world and the relationship between God and man, good and evil, and much like Freud’s symbolic use of the basement to refer to the unconscious space of dreams and the id, Ungrund bears similarity to the “underground” abyss of consciousness in mystic literature. Boehme used it to denote his notion of the undifferentiated, or the primordial ground of the unthought, of the Spirit, from which the natural order of things is thought to flow. The tension between the visible and the invisible, flesh and the idea, is where Flor situates her practice—the articulations of light and the dialectics of expression, attachment, and love.

The exhibition centers around a site-specific installation that is conceived as a series of collapsed images or collapsed text: the undulations of loose pigment and graphite on transparent plexiglass act along the axis of both the horizontal—associated with the finite, individuated space of text and language—and the vertical, evoking the infinite and undifferentiated space of divine openings and ascension. Flor’s found object work of a Riza (a metallic covering of a Russian orthodox icon from the late nineteenth century) speaks to the nostalgic desire for inside and outside to meet, for dyadic catharsis and merging. Together, these works are born from, in her own words, “an impulse seeking to break the slumbering feeling of the established, the seemingly coherent and identical."

Such internal transparency, of course, is impossible to achieve within existing relations. As such Flor’s practice is located in the site of melancholia, the affirmation of a negation, resulting from the loss of the originary primary environment. It is also a work of mourning, and the search for a common language after language has been shattered. Paul Valéry wrote that “language is everything, since it is the voice of no one, since it is the very voice of the things, the waves, and the forests.” Flor attempts to dwell in this uncertainty through a practice of speaking-hearing, a struggle with the limitations of materiality, and the acceptance of annihilation and of giving into a state of not-knowing. Her practice is suspended in this act of submission, much as the infant born into a state of original helplessness and dependence, as one who cannot speak but for whom one must speak, through the Ungrund. With her attempt to fill the void, the lack, with acts of communication, utterance, and dialogue, she wages a measured battle with the ethics of speech, through which to restore the potential to signify, and encounter what Kant called the rhapsodic beginning of thought.

Hiji Nam