Hobson’s Choice: Saskia Olde Wolbers

17 February 2012 By
Hobson's Choice: Saskie Olde Welbers

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

23 January – 26 February 2012

Maureen Paley, 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT

Wednesday – Sunday 11 – 6pm and by appointment


Pareidolia refers to the tendency in human perception to discover meaning in random structures and gives the title to the new work by Dutch artist, Saskia Olde Wolbers currently showing at Maureen Paley in Bethnal Green.  Taking as its starting point an incident that inspired the post-war cult book by German philosopher, Eugen Herrigel – Zen in the Art of Archery – the piece continues the artist’s interest in the nature of subjectivity and the potential arising from the contingency of perception.  In the 1930’s, Herrigel was living in Japan and studying traditional Japanese archery under the tutelage of master, Awa Kenzȏ.  Since neither man spoke each other’s language, a translator was required to be present at all times – always, except for the moment when the master shot a target in the dark and then allegedly shot a second arrow which split the first arrow in two, before exclaiming ‘It, the Divine, has shot!’.   Using this mythical anecdote and the absence of the translator to raise speculation on the truth of this account as reported by the German writer, the artist alludes to the function of mythology, weaving a monotone tale from the fictional point of view of the absent translator and his alter-ego, a bird.  Always hypnotic, seductive even, and evoking hallucinatory urban myths and abstracted journeys via fictional documentaries that are dreamlike streams-of-consciousness, Olde Wolbers presents a uniquely strange and beguiling world, which reflects on the function of art to amplify our perception and experience of the world.

Image: © Saskia Olde Wolbers, Pareidolia, 2011, courtesy the artist and Maureen Paley

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