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Editorial: The Holy Fluff

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When we were contemplating the theme of Supermarket 2022 several months ago, things seemed to be getting somewhat brighter, with the Covid-19 pandemic receding, and the prospect of the coming year filled with a glimmer of hope for warmer, softer, simpler months. A lighter existence where we could perhaps let go a bit, enjoy art, meet new people, and slowly find our way back to normal, so to say. The idea behind the Holy Fluff reflects this recent mindset: the optimistically light-hearted and joyous with the serious and searching; a vision that sees our existence as one always intertwining the playful with the serious and spiritual. That is the ongoing contrast of our lives; our need for believing, questioning, uniting, connecting with something beyond the daily reality with the longing for a carefree and pleasurable existence. 

When driving I once saw a car pass by with a bumper sticker that said “Are you on the Right Path?’ – for certain a religious seeker of truth behind the wheel. But whether I am on the road or not, the sticker and the question often come to my mind. Was it a genuine imploring on humanity, or just a desperate off-handedly judgmental shout in the dark? Is this not something we have all experienced? Or, rather, is this not something we do all the time, wishing for someone to tap on our shoulder and say, look, this is a good path you are on, this is how you go about it, this is where the key is hidden? In a way, I feel like I want to paste a reminder like this in front of my eyes and carry it around as an impossible half-absurd daily reality check.

And then you wake up one day, not spirited away on a cloud of fluff as wished for, but, alas, drifting off uncontrollably on some heavy nightmarish thundercloud. Suddenly the question Where are you going? becomes much more existential. In just a few weeks the situation has once again shifted, with a war in Ukraine that has affected millions of lives and raised a wave of admirable solidarity – but, also, hand in hand with bloodthirsty mongering and militantism across the society. At Supermarket we feel deeply for the people and artists of any invaded country and condemn any kind of military attack on a sovereign country, and in our small ways do all that is possible to support them. 

What I find somewhat disturbing though is that it takes a war to make us most united – that we need an enemy to be able to stand together as communities. That hatred and black-and-white dichotomy are seemingly necessary to position ourselves in the world with the others. Is this really good enough? Perhaps idealistically, I believe that the true unity and capacity for solidarity should lie in us being able to share certain inner values on life, love, art, beauty – not formulated around our definition of evil, crime, punishment, ugliness, even if they come inseparable.

For this reason I see the idea of the Holy Fluff remaining valid in the light of the current world crises. Not only the one in Ukraine, but also, to name another disastrous humanitarian catastrophe, Yemen, or one of the many critical socio-political and environmental threats we see across political spectrums and the continents. That is, the idea that we need to be able to see the meaning and unite both when it comes to serious decisions and actions, but also when it comes to the small, daily things. Milan Kundera’s novel ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ depicts love as a series of coincidences and randomness so haphazard that it takes away from the essence of existence. Living only for levity means accepting that there is nothing else, only the one momentary pleasure – but what happens then when you take the pleasure away? Too much lightness means you just float away and cannot return, it means lack of depth, it means lack of what being comprises. The same thing would happen on the other side of the horizon. Some of us are too light, some too heavy…so it is about balancing our scales every day. 

What I find somewhat disturbing though is that it takes a war to make us most united – that we need an enemy to be able to stand together as communities. That hatred and black-and-white dichotomy are seemingly necessary to position ourselves in the world with the others. Is this really good enough? Perhaps idealistically, I believe that the true unity and capacity for solidarity should lie in us being able to share certain inner values on life, love, art, beauty – not formulated around our definition of evil, crime, punishment, ugliness, even if they come inseparable.

Speaking of balance: each year I want to cut down on the number of articles, and each year I inevitably fail in my idea of a limited scale. Therefore once again I am pleased to present to you a broad edition of Supermarket Art Magazine where you will find a mix of articles touching upon a range of topics, some conceptual responding to the outline above, others practically dealing with the art world. The article ‘Project Space: The Case of Lithuania’ by Aušra Trakšelytė and Milena CM from Apiece maps project spaces and the independent artist-run scene in Lithuania, also providing a brief overview of the scene’s recent history. Commenting on the most recent events, the Czech curator Lenka Sýkorová offers insight into the reaction of the Czech art scene to the war on Ukraine. 

In our spotlight on the South Korea, the Korean visual artist and curator Aeji Seo contextualises the trends in the South Korean contemporary art scene, and interviews one of the most recent additions to the world of artist-run initiatives, Dumbul, established in the Pangyo district of Seongnam city in 2020. Also from Korea, the artist InYoung Yeo from Space One artist-run gallery, brings an interview with two Korean artists based in Seoul who took part in the gallery’s programme, Dew Kim and Yaloo, to share their experiences of being active in the Seoul art scene. 

Stanislav Máselník ponders the nature of the Holy as related to our daily realities and searching for a meaningful existence, using Thomas Mann’s classic The Magic Mountain as one point of reference. Sounding lighter, but really diving into murkier waters, Joe Rowley in the ‘Otters, Bond and Bubbles – Artist-run as Fluffer’ compares the position of the artist-run scene to that of a fluffer in the porn industry, where artist run-initiatives serve only as a stepping stone, the invisible help, to larger institutions.

To conclude on an optimistic note, in a detailed interview the artist Thierry Mortier talks about the art movement Kvadrennalen in ‘Kvadrennalen: Let the art world unite’ presenting his belief in the power of art to change society and stand united.

As always, I hope you enjoy reading this magazine. Do not forget the fluff despite the serenity of life. 

Alice Máselníková, Editor-in-chief