V.G.A. (Van Gogh’s Airbnb)

Curated by Andrea Soós

In his works created for the exhibition Van Gogh’s Airbnb, Botond Keresztesi analyzes the cultural significance of the human ear. His paintings deal with the jewelleries and technical accessories such as wireless headphones worn in our ears.

The show was inspired by the movie entitled Blue Velvet, directed by David Lynch in 1986. In the opening scene protagonist Jeffrey Beaumont discovers a discoloured human ear full of ants while walking in the forest. Beaumont starts an investigation in order to find the owner of the ear.
In criminal investigation the human ear is considered to be an even more reliable biometric measurement than fingerprints that can be used to identify individuals. X-raying the semicircular canals inside the ear can describe a person very accurately. Meanwhile a number of cultural meanings are attached to the human ear: its piercing is an ancient ritual. Earrings made of bones represented the role of the individual in the community in Asian, African and South American tribal cultures. In the years of slavery earrings worn by slaves symbolised the hierarchic relation to their owners. Cutting off ears was a typical element of torture in the Medieval era as well as in mafia wars. However this kind of mutilation became art historically significant when painter Vincent Van Gogh cut off his left ear during a quarrel with Paul Gauguin in 1888. Van Gogh was hospitalized and his tragical act characterized the paintings created in the last months of his life.Through the examination of objects and symbols, Keresztesi interprets narratives from the past that describe the present as well.

The portraits shown in Trapéz include stock photos found on the internet and 3D rendered images. The ears in his paintings belong to unknown people. They are floating above surreal landscapes that recall the settings of science fiction films from the 1970s and 1980s. These post-apocalyptic works, however, depict an uncanny image about the future of humanity in the realm of the climate catastrophe.