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Accepting the Humane brings together the work of four contemporary artists in a dialogue around acceptance, authenticity and veracity within our hyper-edited era. Maisie Cousins, Amy Feldman, Athina Ioannou and Roosmarijn Pallandt reflect upon the beauty that can be found in the impulse, the stumble and the accident. Celebrating the processes that require us to slow down, observe our immediate surroundings and pay attention to that which we’d normally turn our backs to, dismiss as grotesque, or feel is too risky to confront. 

The work of all these artists is developed under a particular set of conditions. As a result, they expose themselves to several uncontrollable variables, many dependent on the context they find themselves in.  Roosmarijn Pallandt for example, develops incredibly fragile analogue photographs, taken in a range of site specific circumstances– utilising natural elements such as the moon as the only source of light. In this way, she practices what she describes as “slowness and letting things unfold.”    

With a similar sense of patience, Maisie Cousins photographs are the result of a process that is equally aware of time, often leaving a range of organic objects at the mercy of decay for a few days. “I only have a short window before everything really rots” she shares. Her work also refers to the impoliteness of the body as celebration of femininity. From this perspective, the work of these artists is a result of challenging idealised and edited scenarios by working with the conditions from the environment or situation they find themselves in, moment by moment.

Similarly, Athina Ioannou’s work exists as a response and is in direct dialogue with the spaces in which they are located, as well as exploring “the unrepeatable and the infinite amount of unique gestures” available in any given moment. Whilst Amy Feldman’s process relates to that of an uninterrupted chance to construct an image, in an attempt to deliver an unadulterated punchline, with no revisions or reworking later. “Once a mark is made, I do not erase or paint over,” in this way “accepting its finality”. 

Some of the time-based, accidental, or light-hearted details within these artist’s work reminds us we are still in the medium of paint and photography, whilst they act as a metaphor for the acceptance of what is. Elements that relate to the idea of ‘perfection’ are constantly being subverted through their work, whilst their willingness to engage with the naked realities of their creative processes persists. 

However, the artists not only implement acceptance but through it they decide not to comply or submit to any “shoulds.” Instead, they actively and inventively, make out of each situation as they please– an autonomy reflected by how each embraces chance by choice. By celebrating what they encounter, the artists’ attitude towards acceptance very much reveals and welcomes the idea of this coexisting with agency and change. 

Moreover, their work highlights how images are (as expressed by Feldman) quickly “interpreted, remembered and misremembered in the digital realm.” They highlight how the rapid distribution of images might be at the core of losing touch with verified reality as well as more vulnerable and ultimately more human forms of connection. Especially as the possibility for editing and curating the portrayal of one’s identity becomes more accessible and more common by the day.

Additionally, by renewing their awareness of time and working with this as a key element of their practice, these artists allow their work to unfold within the space of the unpredictable. In this way, their work embodies a sensibility beyond the image or the imagined as they lean towards what Ioannou describes as something that is “essential to live”. In other words, resisting the slide into disconnection, by treasuring the sensed, the vulnerable and the intuitive. 


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