Talking about Cinema as Thought, Gilles Deleuze introduced a new species of concepts – The Movement Image, The Time Image, Any-Space-Whatever –, concepts that bring forth a language capable to express the modern abstract thought and also redefine the film auteur as the new non discursive philosopher. Ioana Mitrea is at her turn one of the contemporary artists who refuse to merely produce representations, to deliver plain images. What she really does is, in deleuzian terms, to think in images like the regular philosophers do in concepts.
In perfect concordance with Henri Bergson’s approach of time as continuous flux, as duration, Mitrea’s works imply a non measurable, non quantitative, intensive species of time. Thus, in the installation Different states of mind, the internal duration, the flux of feelings constantly changing become visible and we are able to notice the subtle way in which this internal flux is connected with the outer flow of matter (bread, wheat, grass, wool and so on). Breathing China provides another phenomenological inquiry on duration, proving that video is a medium capable to reveal the simple facts, life as it is – sometimes repetitive, other times banal. Hence, the idea that reality is not a causal chain of actions as the linear, classical narrative suggests, becomes clear.
The same affirmation of a qualitative, intensive time can be found in videos such as The same me, Memory and movement on skin, Delusion, where rituals engaging operations as washing, cleansing, marking the body, are performed in a Dionysian regime. The qualitative time encapsulated in the work of art reminds us of the sacred, cyclical time of festival, defined by Mircea Eliade as the most real, powerful and significant. This fact encourages one to conclude that in our desacralized world, art provides a new transcendence compensating the fading image of religion.
Similarly, space is approached in a way that reminds of the deleuzian concept any-space-whatever – a heterogeneous, non-measurable, non-mathematical, virtual, emotional, spiritual, and vital space. The void and disconnected spaces presented in videos such as Between Nature or Swimming in the dark, where parts of the body act independently disconnected from the physical reality and also from the body as a whole, are relevant examples.
The artist’s attitude towards objects in the manner of the Speculative Realism, rejecting any anthropocentrism is also worthy of mention. In works such as Portraits of objects, Because a piece of something, Compulsion, objects are approached beyond their functionality, for themselves, as equals of humans which posses even their own memory. An object also means much more than a word, a simple label chosen from a finite, limitative language.
Thus, Ioana Mitrea proposes a re-significance of words mediated by the body and the feelings, a replacement of the conventional language with visual poetry and metaphor. Her practice is nothing else than a meditation on time, space and memory, an attempt to deliver, as she herself declared, “visual definitions” of things. A practice like this should probably be named, in deleuzian terms, Visual Art as Thought.
Raluca Nestor Oancea