Is objectivity possible, or is our personal perspective inescapable? This is a question asked by philosopher Thomas Nagel in his seminal essay ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’ Nagel uses bats as a metaphor to distinguish the differences between subjective and objective consciousness, arguing that humans can only imagine what it’s like to embody a bat, but that it’s impossible to fully understand them on a conscious level. In other words, there is no truth, only what’s true to you. We can attempt to imitate a bat – hang upside down with fake wings attached to our arms – but as Nagel notes, ‘we’re restricted to the resources of our minds, and those resources are inadequate’.
Only personal truth: it’s an appealing concept for an artist, and Nagel’s cogitation is where the ten artists in this show, bat-like, take off. Each artist in varying ways inverses aspects of nature, turning meaning on its head, intuiting their sculpted or painted worlds from the upside-down perspective of a bat. Working in wildly disparate styles, some lurk in the dark caves of their consciousness as meaning emerges, while others skitter to the light, with measured introspections on reality.
The exhibition at ADZ offers glimpses into the artists’ upturned worlds, as they ride their idiosyncratic flight paths, unique characters mingling but never colliding. And into this bat cave of ideas and sensations the viewer steps, inspiring myriad new interpretations and thoughts. Each piece is perceived and examined from all ends, transforming Nagel’s ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’ into revised metaphors and conclusions, coaxing us to interpret life another way up.
Artists featured: Adam Alessi, Nils Alix-Tabeling, Dozie Kanu, Sara Knowland, Jennifer J. Lee, Evangeline Ling, Calvin Marcus, Soshiro Matsubara, Jacopo Pagin, Oda Iselin Sønderland