Having opened at the Itakos Project, curated by Akim Alonzo, on Sunday, February 16th, Milena Carbone’s Agape in Pace is a fascinating exploration of art, love, hate, religion, politics – all of which might be summed up as the human condition; together with reflections on quantum field theory – specifically the quantum vacuum state and the Casimir effect.
Spread over two floors of the gallery space, the exhibit presents a mix of images and text panels, which together present a layered, nuanced story.
Initially, the exhibition was inspired by the strangeness of the quantum vacuum: a vacuum that was the result of interactions of matter, antimatter and quantum fields that cancel each other out. The image of the Agape and Lilith twins represented the course of matter and antimatter that arises and rejoins almost simultaneously to disappear in the peace of emptiness.
As my work progressed, I drifted towards the two parallel stories: of Agape, oriented towards love and the search for peace; and of Lilith, oriented towards hatred of the other and the search for destruction. These are two postures towards the world. Not just the world of humans, but of all forms of life and the mystery of our existence. The two stories inevitably unite in death and forgiveness.
– Milena Carbone, describing Agape in Pace
The stories of Agape and Lilith are told on the lower floor of the exhibition, Agape to the left and Lilith to the right as you face the hall. Each can be followed individually, while each acts as a reflection of the other. Neither can actually exist without the other, yet should they ever meet, they will mutually annihilate one another violently and completely. But while they stay apart each might continue indefinitely, as symbolised by the mirror-like triptych at the end of the hall.
Further nuance is added through the examination quantum field theory. The popular idiom life doesn’t exist in a vacuum tells us that everything is in relation to it’s context; thus, neither Agape nor Lilith exist alone; they are intertwined – love and hate, light and dark – each giving life to the other; neither occupies a vacuum, and together, whilst never touching, they operate as an example of the Casimir Effect: their very existence as individuals means that between them, they generate a non-zero energy that effects the space (or others) around them.
On the upper level, the exhibition, Milena both continues her examination of the human condition whilst offering her own examination of Agape in Pace. In doing so, she offers insight into her creative process and her use of layering in her art as a part of her storytelling. Here as well, there are nuances and reflections on the nature of life and existence, religion, and an understanding of our place in the universe – indeed, the idea that life itself is a reflection of the physical forces at work throughout the cosmos.
Provocative in stimulating the grey matter, attractive in its art presentation, and ending on a pointed commentary on both the small-mindedness we are all too often witnessing in modern politics, and the reality of our tiny presence in a cosmos that small-mindedness presumes we own, Agape in Pace is a captivating exhibition.
- Agape in Pace, Itakos Project (ATL, rated Moderate)