With distractions pulling us in all directions, Alex Mirutziu wants to stop us in our tracks. He’s done this on many occasions, not least with his video Tears are precious, which received the Best Independent Artist Award at the Optica International Video Art festival in 2008. Between too soon and too late, Mirutziu’s first solo show in the UK, is an invitation to go where not many have gone before, in a particular time and place. Inspired by Iris Murdoch’s philosophical work, Mirutziu identifies an ‘in between’ dimension, a window that could take one closer to the essence of things. Murdoch’s philosophy articulates meaning though physical experience, the way we perceive and relate to our immediate environment. An affinity with her approach provides Mirutziu not only with a philosophical frame but also with ‘a mirror’ that allows for thorough exploration. Between too soon and too late translates Murdoch’s theories into objects, words and body language. They’re the dividing line between time and space as mediators of meaning. With the belief that meaning is dependent on time and space, Mirutziu strategically fills the gallery space, challenging the visitors’ expectations. His complex practice proposes drawing, photography, video and installation as different ways of accessing an ‘intermedial’ time and a place that’s so often withheld from us.
Gestalt me out, is a play on presence and absence, a kind of monument to what was and could still be. A desk and a Xerox copy of Murdoch’s tea stained note… golden indentations of the author’s arms in the desk … an empty chair. The individual objects testify to an absence, their synergy suggests presence. Gestalt me out, hints at a myriad of interactions that produce meaning. In order to experience this interconnectedness, the viewer’s asked to step into the ‘in-between place’– ‘a tiny place, that one has to enlarge and sit on it…until it hurts’, says Mirutziu.
The works in the show are performative. They require the viewer’s engagement and don’t yield themselves to easy consumption. Mirutziu studied Iris Murdoch’s archive of late writings, after the philosopher’s onset of Alzheimers. He found that what she almost said could potentially be more meaningful than what she did say. One of the installations of the show’s a narrow space filled with blown up crossed out words, cast in metal. The visitors have to battle with these words that block their way through the exhibition space. There’s no other way but to face them, make out what they could mean or accept their titillating mystery. Either way, one’s almost trapped in their inescapable materiality. The artist’s aim is to expose their weakness. They’re only one piece of the puzzle, ‘half spoken’: their crossings hide but also reveal. For Mirutziu, a clinical understanding is far from his goal. He accepts the possibility of not grasping their meaning– in fact, he embraces it. He wants to revel in it, to make it secondary to the physical experience of being, of slowing meaning in its tracks and having it at arm’s length and a little bit further.
A framed page with a title ‘Where is the poem?’ demands a contribution: our own personal poem, there and then, in the exhibition space; an arrested moment that will ‘destabilize’ our daily routine, make us think, react and churn out poetry.
Poetry’s the driving force throughout the show. Drawings with wonderful titles (Heavy X looks at thick slow on blue thick blue) are visual labyrinths that aren’t meant to be solved. They engage us in a Sisyphean action of making a narrative, only to be pulled back into anunfathomable maze of possibilities. It’s the exercise that matters and the exaltation that comes from refusing to accept defeat. Mirutziu expects us ‘to put in the effort, to be as close as they can to the work and fill it up with meaning’. In exchange, he offers us the chance to get closer to ourselves than we were when entering the gallery. It’s an offer we shouldn’t refuse.
Alex Mirutziu lives and works in Cluj. His exhibition’s the result of a residency at Delfina Foundation, supported by European ArtEast Foundation. It’s on show until 2 June 2018.