Igor Hosnedl
30 May – 6 July 2024

Opening: Thursday, 30 May, 5 - 8pm

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but here alone.

from Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich


Thalassophobia is an originally Greek term describing a dread of an open body of water, be it the sea or a lake. Such a state might be caused by various factors, starting with evolutionary deeply encoded fears of krakens and leviathans of various kinds; lack of experience and familiarity with the underwater unknown; or simply infused by a previous negative experience. No wonder we tend to use so many metaphors relating our deepest fears to water. Waves often illustrate challenges and fears, a stormy sea alludes to emotional turmoil and such. But there is one specific state of water which rules them all in its horrifying character. And that is a calm, still water surface. The one which mirrors everything darkly, and no Narcissus would ever dare look into it. Such a surface draws in. Such a surface devours. Such a surface never shows remorse. It exists in time, a very specific time, somewhere between the first rays of light of the day starting to spread across the horizon and the split second of transformation when the sun touches the water directly. A silent, dark mirror waits for its prey, briefly, patiently, repeatedly in cycles. And when dawn’s light reflects off the water, everything changes, and who knows, some might even approach without any angst.

Peculiar. Especially when one imagines all the wet dreams of our billionaires to travel, live, and die in space. Not a single one of those wants to have anything to do with the depths of the oceans. Or at least they have not mentioned it so far. And yet when you imagine Keir Dullea as David Bowman traversing outer space through that trippy monolith-formed vortex in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it gives very similar vibes as when Ed Harris/ Bud keeps falling down the abyss in the eponymous James Cameron’s movie (minus the psychedelia of course; this is the peak of the Reagan era we are talking about). Why do we want to go to space and fear diving under water? The answer is probably very simple. We have not much of an idea about space, while drowning gives a sensation of a very realistic and tangible demise. Sure. But could there be more to this? Alien vs Sea Monster (definitely wanna watch that). There surely is something about taming water. Since basically every major religion on Earth is using it as a ritualised medium for renewal and spiritual cleansing, even transformation. Taming water as taming fear? Uf, makes me think of Dune again. Back to Igor, please.

It is not clear if we are invited to witness a story. Even though everything points to it. There is a figure, who takes off their clothes, enters the water, and gets out totally exhausted while the water changes from silent to roaring. The titular painting might even presuppose a discussion of two, making a bet of some sort while sipping apple-infused cocktails: “oh yeah, bet you won't dive there.” So they did. There is also a depiction of an underwater structure of roots forming shelves for an underwater treasure which might have been the aim of the diving experience. “Bring me the magical egg of the water people”…you can guess the rest of the story. The seeming linearity of the whole series is almost as frightening as the silent water surfaces it depicts. At least until you refocus on the depicted time passing (or standing still) formulated in fires, burning matches, bonfires, or lanterns. Those might be eternally cyclical. Or even Groundhog-day-like. Are we entering the same waters twice? Or…multiple times? Do we struggle to avoid constant repetition of our mistakes? Do we keep trying to dive into that crazy scary water, but at the end we just simply can not? Is it a story actually, or your daily routine? Let’s just dive in to find that old wreck and see.



This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

from Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

Discover more works by the artist HERE