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The Human Condition

Dr. Gindi's current  project, 

Self-Laceration Beyond Recognition, 

explores existential and metaphysical themes, continuing her research regarding the boundaries of language such as philosophers, Camus and Levinas. Gindi's art is rooted in crevasses between our intuitive knowing and what we’re able to express through language. Her recent bronze sculpture series titled Fractured Reality are compelling portrayals of possible states of being detached from the potential reclamation of infinity. 

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Dr. Gindi

In my latest series, called Fractured Reality, I explore the many facets of escapism. The influences of philosophers, such as Albert Camus and Emmanuel Levinas reveal themselves through the sculptures in this clustered sequence engaging in dialogue with one another as they each portray a different moment of our inner discontent. These pieces represent the intensity of our awakening to the truth of our human existence. Our fear hunts us down and traps us in a moment, unable to turn toward the light streaming in through our open wounds. Our shame buries us in the sludge, slime, and slurry of our past and mocks us from the highest mountain top. Unable to escape its chains, our corpse slowly detaches from any hope of the reclamation of infinity.

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The human condition is utterly defined by paradox. There can be no creativity without an awareness of the restraining shackles of time. There can be no flight without the grounding force of gravity to push against. There can be no escape into the infinite, unless we first embrace our limited nature – calmly, intimately, joyfully.

To be human, then, is to want, deeply, longingly, from the centre of our being, to escape our humanity. That irreducible urge to transcend the limits of our worldly being leads us simultaneously to project ourselves outwards toward our infinite possibilities and to curl back upon ourselves suckling the distractions of our modern world, like an infant in pain desperately seeking comfort at the breast. Feeling the push and the pull, the yin and the yang, is the imprint of the embodied infinite. Existence reveals itself to us through the human condition as oppressive and indeterminate. We despise its hideous gratuitousness. Escape is the only way out. But escape into what?

Perhaps the purest expression of escapism, though, appears in the sculpture entitled Self-Laceration Beyond Recognition. The bronze piece invokes the image of a human being, dismembered, disjointed, and partially decomposed inducing the viewer to consider the ways in which they might push beyond the boundaries of their own limited nature. The rough shape full of divots and pits represents the open wounds through which we allow in the light. It invites the viewer to reflect on self-laceration being necessary to transcend the human condition. It is the means of escape, but it is also important to recognize that self-laceration need not be interpreted literally as suicide. It can be taken as chance, as the shedding of ego, as the release of our limiting beliefs. Invariably, Self-Laceration Beyond Recognition speaks to that part within us that wants to face our deepest fears so that we can overcome them.

In Self-Laceration Beyond Recognition, we bear witness to escapism in one of its various aesthetic expressions. “Escape,” Emmanuel Levinas wrote, “is the need to get out of oneself, that is, to break that most radical and unalterably binding of chains, the fact that the I [moi] is oneself [soi-même].” The human subject clings to self-laceration as the sweetest iridescent bridge to unboundedness. The creature breaks the unyielding chains with a silent explosion, fleeing the ego, flowing through her open wounds, resigned to the fate that being will never be self-sufficient.

Yet, there are many ways to escape the self. The human subject rejects the attempt to escape her humanity by projecting value into the world of illusions. This is the approach recommended by the philosophical tradition of existentialism. According to the existentialists, human existence has meaning precisely because we attach meaning to the objectively meaningless tasks with which we occupy our time. We lose ourselves in the mundanity of the moment, forgetting the self-consuming agony of the human condition, if only for a brief flash. It is tempting, no doubt, but the human subject sees through the smoke, the fog, the blur of diversion. Camus denies that there is an answer to the question “what is the meaning of existence?” Herein lies the paradox: because existence itself has no meaning, we must learn to bear an inescapable emptiness. This is what Camus calls the absurd. But the human subject remains unconvinced.

The human subject sees Camus’s explanation of the absurd as a failed attempt to escape the being that she herself is. It is the height of conceit to presume that we could, through ordinary human actions and beliefs, construct a better conception of being. It’s what Levinas calls the “insufficiency of the human condition.” To reach those heights, to get what we deeply long for, we have only one choice: to transcend our human condition through an infinite experience. We are children of the infinite, bound by the chains of finitude. We shall destroy any conception of finite being. Then and only then will we experience the infinite.

Far from being the territory of mystics and sages, Levinas’s conception of transcendence is rather grounded and more practical than most. Instead of viewing the great escape in relation to ascending to some kind of other worldly, mysterious realm, transcendence happens through our subjective relationships with others. Our interpersonal relationships take us outside of ourselves and beyond our own egos. We’re all connected and in realizing this interconnectedness, we sacrifice our singular identities in favour of the infinite.

Reconceived in this way – Self-Laceration Beyond Recognition, transcends our finite being, experiencing the unadulterated infinite through our recognition of the other – the entire question of transcendence shifts. Our first response to mortality is the urge to take leave of our being. To be embodied consciousness is to struggle with the limits of our existential situation. In affective states like resignation, terror, shame, and fear, the bodily self is experienced as trapped within itself, stifled by existence, and desperate for a way out. Escape – true escape – represents a positive, dynamic need. The only question left to ask is will we have the courage to pursue the transcendental movement?

text by Dr. Gindi, November 4 , 2022 (Images courtesy of the artist)

Dr Gindi is a Switzerland-based sculptor whose practice uses repugnant narratives to address the human search for infinity from multiple perspectives. Believing that we are all able to create purpose in our own lives, she poignantly explores the twists and turns of the infinite through her sculptural tenacity.

Dr. Gindi has had several exhibitions globally, including shows in Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, USA and China. She is a member of the US National Sculpture Society and the Portrait Society of America. Gindi was selected for the 2021 Figurativas Painting and Sculpture Competition of the European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona and the National Sculpture Society, 2022 Annual Awards Exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.

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