Phenomaniac diaries 12.-17.10.2020

Karlo Ladó: Phenomaniac diaries /Asbestos Art Space/ Helsinki

Open hours:

Tuesday-Friday 11:00-18:00 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Karlo Ladó exhibition is a multifaceted odyssey from self to there and back again. Carlo breaks on through to the other side! Having lived in Budapest and Malta, he has now traveled from Central Europe towards East, to Helsinki, but I actually mean another kind of a trip:


Humans are composed of symmetry that incorporates two sides, like the most of the more complex life forms than worms and our single-celled co-creatures. Three experiments made in Hawaii tested effects of writing system orientation on spatial cognition, using literate speakers of English, Mainland Chinese, and Taiwanese. The results suggest that the orientation of a writing system is engrained in speakers' perceptual and motor routines to the point that it surfaces when they perform other spatial tasks. More generally, the findings reported support the idea that idiosyncratic characteristics of particular languages can influence general cognition. What light does this shed on Károly’s invitation card, where he reclaims the usage ancient Hungarian runes from the extreme right wing contexts with a confessionary message: ”I’m a migrant”? The statement intends to cause migraine for the nationalists – a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. I want to add here, that according to a legend, the Finns and Hungarians traveled ages ago from behind the Ural mountains towards West, until they came into a crossroads that had a sign: ”North / South”. And the ones who could read went to south...


"You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words... Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words."


- From The Fabric of Mind, by the eminent scientist and neurosurgeon, Richard Bergland. Viking Penguin, Inc., New York 1985.


Despite the scientific knowledge that witnesses for the difference of the left and right within human beings, in the era of selfies that actually are mirrored images, we tend to forget the differences of directions. The nature has assigned certain fine-tuned tasks for each side of the human body. Please allow me to use again a stereotype of understading West and East as two sides of the world (stereos meant originally solidity of form – three dimensionality of a kind – even though it is nowadays more commonly used referring to pairs of something): Like a stranger in Hong Kong once told to me, the left and the right cannot be interchanged. Previous research on cross-culture comparisons found that Western cultures tend to value independence and the self is construed as an autonomous individual, while Eastern cultures value interdependence and self-identity is perceived as embedded among friends and family members. The East has in general maintained more eye for details than us, who are obsessed in seeing our reflection in the mirror and on advertisements, and our brains have trained us to recognize that image. Although sometimes the strangeness of mirroring may reveal itself when you're feeling at the top of your hair game and want to snap a picture with the front-camera: The moment you take a look, you're taken aback and confused – Is that what you really look like?


Karlo's process paintings serve as monstrous metaphor of all this: He takes his reflection in the mirror as a starting point of for a chain of self-portraits, where he uses a technique called right-hemisphere drawing. He follows his features first from the mirror with his brush on canvas, and on the second painting he uses the features of the first painting as his map – all the time without looking at the canvas, the right hand tries to reproduce the observed shapes and forms of his face as mechanical movement. As a result Karlo ends up amplifying the dis-coordination – the (dis)connection between the body and the perception. The paintings are maps of distortion created by self-obsession that reveal how lost we get if we try to see ourselves from the outside. We are meant to look outside.


On his video work the migrations between hemispheres seem to manifestate from bird perspective over a football field... And indeed – the viewer gets to witness the table football match of the millenia: Karlo plays Karlo on a Sunday evening rivalry game to beat all rivalry games, and there’s more than bragging rights at stake... In a 10 minute video the artist’s left hand is against his right hand. Attention, a spoiler follows. The artist wins. But he also loses, at the same time:

In addition of feedback loops and lingual games, third strand of Karlo’s artistic Red Thread of Fate, is bodyprints. They manifestate the outward movement as a result of excessive oscillations inside one’s head, between the I and I. The urge to touch, to approach the world, to transform the body weight into a two dimensional vessel to be sent into the abyss of white cube’s walls has managed to picture the consequences of too literal self-reflection for human condition.


“En jail” is a body painting on a found table plate, where the concrete “pixels” of tiles have become an architectonic grid to define, measure, and opress the introvertedly curled up human figure. In Hannu Rajaniemi’s novel “Quantum Thief”, a dilemma prison is a type of virtual reality utilized by the Sobornost – an uploaded human mind collective whose Great Common Task is the creation of a new universe, where all those who have died can live again – to house and reform troublesome “gogols” (an uploaded mind). Prisoners within the prison are forced to endlessly play out variations on The Prisoner's Dilemma scenario, until they get reprogrammed into more cooperative ones.


The prisoner's dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. So – if the left and right hemisphere, in micro and macro scale, won’t cooperate... The answer to a non existent question may lie in your pronounciation of the title of the work.

The childlike joy of reinterpreting different bodyparts into antropomorphic motifs à la Roschach offer us the most free gestures of Karlo in his first solo exhibition in Finland. In these works the artist has migrated his soul on canvas honoring the traditions of Pan-European expressionist school with a performative, and almost erotic twist. “The small hole” in his painting is associated with a portal between the inside and the outside, aswell as between the two sides of the fabric of cosmos (according to the tales about black holes) – but most importantly it resembles the universal symbol ending a statement, the point of it all, the start of silence and the indicator that passes the turn of speech forward, or ends the ramblings of a madman to let finally the art speak for itself: . -Jarkko Räsänen