The earthliest narrative of civilizational foundation, handed down to us in the Pseudo-Apollodorus, begins with a transgression: One of the... Read More
The earthliest narrative of civilizational foundation, handed down to us in the Pseudo-Apollodorus, begins with a transgression: One of the Titans, Prometheus, molded men out of earth and water – clay – and defied the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, laying the foundations of the arts. Since the Neolithic revolution, the shelf life of clay has spanned the entire course of human presence on earth, and deep buried underground, fragments of charred clay have revealed the destruction and rebirth of civilization. In the series “Fusis”, Valentin Korzhov investigates the fundamental ontology of clay, through performative gestures and archetypal symbols, unearthing complex systems of interrelatedness between the earth – the natural world is a product of rationalism – and the primary materials of the environment. As clay appears in all the mythologies of the Near East as a foundational narrative, Heidegger was interested in the relationship between building (of shelter), dwelling (in buildings) and thinking (what are things?), since these concepts derived from the same etymological roots, and converge on the question of Being. To be, is to build, dwell and think. Clay in that context, as the ontological substratum of the civilizational process isn't simply a mythological construction, but also a reference to the first human dwellings and writing systems. With his signature playfulness about the multidirectionality of time, Korzhov establishes through speculative imagery – the myth is nowhere to be found here, it is the absent other of civilization – a rootedness between the invention of the natural world and the reality of physical nature, not anchored in the paradigms of science, but giving a myth-poetic glance in order to reframe the order of what we mean by “matter”; it's not the Aristotelian conflict between matter and form but a more complicated operation: The possibility that the things themselves exist, and our need to recognizing their shining forth, beyond the human artifice.