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Mwangi Hutter_How easily we could have missed the hidden gate_R2017.10.jpg
April 3 – April 18, 2021
→ CCS Bard Galleries
Curated by
  • Sofia D'Amico
  • Danni Shen
  • Guy Weltchek
Part of
Exhibition Category
Student Curated Projects, Hessel Collection Exhibitions

Naming is the origin
Of all particular things

Free from desire, you realize the mystery
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations

Yet mystery and manifestations
Arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness

Darkness within darkness
The gateway to all understanding.

—dao de jing, chapter 1

This exhibition seeks to frame darkness as the metaphysical basis for various modes of thought and experience. Common Western assumptions about knowledge production and enlightenment picture knowledge as being “brought to light” or arising through a “light bulb moment.” Here, the interdependent relationship of light and dark is inverted, positing darkness as a generative space for enlightenment. These works by David Altmejd, Paul Chan, Rachel Harrison, Mwangi Hutter, Mariko Mori, and Arnulf Rainer make space for darkness, shadows, void, obscurity, mystery—for the imperceptible nature of being, the traces of opposites. Rather than opposing and hegemonic bifurcations, these works privilege darkness to de-emphasize ocular experience, unravel visual dualisms, and level out a playing field for the senses to make way for an embodied experience. Embodiment is foundational to various, time-honored spiritual and religious practices, which are cited by the artists in this exhibition. The show borrows from the idea of “darkness within darkness” referenced in the last line of the first chapter of the dao de jing (5th century BCE). Together, these works suggest that new ways of thinking and understanding can be acquired in the shadows and remain in the dark, just beyond the blinding lights of modern times.