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Orsi Cowell-Lehoczky_Without Air_mixed_31x31x11cm_2020small.jpg

Without Air

'I feel…sort of…enclosed…forgotten…boxed in…non-essential: Without Air' is -to me- the ultimate summary of 2019-2021; of the lockdowns, mental health, and the way COVID influenced my way of seeing the world and myself in it.


This piece is a 3D work of mixed media object of art- born from a train of thoughts about what / who is "essential" at a "moment" of emergency. We were all measured and found out that our perceived hierarchy of importance is completely wrong. That a society is supported from bellow and no head can work without a steadily operational body underneath... That we have to accept that being an artist is not NEEDED for a community to survive, lorry drivers, shop assistants, nurses, teachers are.

A different perspective. All of a sudden, masses of the population have experienced a situation where only a minority would normally find themselves: People, who had - for any reason imaginable - became isolated.

I feel - for one-, that our society has lost its focus, the priorities are way out of sync: so I make my canvasses suffocate in lots of meanings and meaningless details. This increasing insecurity culminated during the pandemic: On a personal level I became very comfortable having minimal contact with the “outside” during the lockdowns and that scared me: I have realised the ease with one can find oneself in complete isolation.

When it became evident how important it is to a society to keep life-saving services operating, and how much effort that takes under the circumstances, it made me feel insignificant, non essential as an artist. And the loop, that had begun forming with my mother's death has very nearly closed upon me.

Following this line of thought, let's be more literal: see the image of someone who is actually, physically CAN NOT BREATHE - again, for any reason imaginable, like my mother for example, who was a lifelong smoker - a person, who needs a machine to help with the most basic exercise in life. Unsuspecting people from one day to another suffering from the most brutal deprivation a living being can experience.


These thoughts made me feel humble, uncomfortable (?!), and I wanted to find a way to express my sympathy, my understanding: To send a silent, but powerful shout out there.

Technically, it started as an interesting trial of using epoxy resin, to save a mini-sculpture I made a long time ago that had been broken (useless, but not forgotten...) for a long while. Using the epoxy was my attempt to save it. and that has worked out well. The surprising bit was how the bubbles "stayed" within the resin, an unplanned feature entirely.

First I did not intend to remove the aluminium tray that I used to contain the epoxy and all: it was meant to be a take on Millais' Ophelia originally - with hints of a "storm in a teacup" vision, emphasising the mundane nature of most personally heroic or meaningful and important act - again, a twist of perspectives -, but when it was all set, it came as the only logical thing to do, exposing the shape: liquid in an invisible container (an analogue of our boundaries often being utterly unnoticeable from the outside: a wall between "me" and "them").


I had the problem of displaying this work though, and that was eventually solved when I came across the frame the statuette now sits within: a decorative, solid cage, an emblem of the 'comfort zone', the black curtain of ignorance, you name it...

I think it an upsetting & weird work, one of my most serious pieces that I could not easily fit into my repertoire of exhibited art until now - sadly.

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