written by Lilli Martiny
In our current fragile times, the question of belonging arises more and more. What makes a home a home? What do we carry with us and in us if we leave a space, enter a new one and create a new reality for ourselves?
In this exhibition “Sedan reste jag mig”, Cora Wöllenstein’s work series called “The Palace inside of me”, explores and showcases the inner psychological landscapes that live within every one of us. The artist herself has moved several times in her lifetime, reflecting on the decision of what objections carry memories and meaning. As well as what we do to create a sense of connection to both the inside and the outside world in which our two realities lie. To explain this sentence: throughout the exhibition space, hand-poured wax hybrid-beings, consisting of a human foot and snail house, representing the "wanderer". The wanderer is someone who travels and moves with no specific goal or place in mind. But they always carry their "home/house" and therefore themselves with them. No matter what the destination is. Whatever is being carried around in the said house is an open invitation to the spectator—if having to "wander" to a new space, which is more limited in its size—whether that is moving to a smaller apartment, moving across the country, or moving in with someone. It always means change, and the one who wanders has to decide what to bring/keep. Said snails surround a golden fabric wall. The fabric is draped in an S-shape, mimicking an entrance into another world. From inside to outside.
Another fabric piece, hanging like a flag, on which you can see an embroidered painting of a woman lying down. Raindrops or perhaps tears are dripping onto her body, and as the dripps touch her skin, she dissolves into the ground like roots. Becoming one with nature or perhaps building a connection and deciding to root in the chosen place. Because we all have our hearts somewhere, yet it doesn't mean that one is stuck or that one cannot build roots in new surroundings. Of course, it might also be playing with the idea of where we have come from and to what we return.
Deciding on how the visitor is moving along the drape, he/her/them is either within the curve or outside of it, just like the backside of the stage in Dr. Parnassus (short explanation: spectators see a stage, but if one goes behind the stage, at the right time, they enter a hidden, inside world). The front is the exhibiting world for the outside, e.g. what we decide to show the world. It is like putting on the skin tailored explicitly for how we want to be perceived. Whereas you enter the inside, we have the rawness of the self, like a snail without its house. That works as a barrier layer to protect us. Without it, we are more vulnerable but are we closer to an authentic self or does the self emerge through the two realities? Because the outside reality is created from the inside reality by reflecting on the outward world and how we act within it. Therefore carrying a responsibility to work on ourselves for others, both mentally and physical. The exhibition is shining light on this process and gives the chance to carry outward the inside world. We are learning to accept the pieces that make us human. Due to being made from fabric, the wall does not showcase any malice attempt. It instead creates a flow, no strict pathway, no sharp ends. Simply an open invitation for exploring. Perhaps simply follow the flow of the snails because "Not all who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost." – J.R.R Tolkien.
Remaining with the snail topic, one of the main works is a painting ("Her Majesty left the Room", 140 x 200 cm, Oil on Canvas) on which you can see perhaps the queen of snails. Facing us backwards, she is