In Hostipitality, Misha Ilin investigates our laws of
hospitality with the practice of hostility through the situation of an auction.
By constructing a metaphor of unlimited hospitality in relation to the last
ultimately free resource, air, the artist seeks to problematize its
socio-economic reading within our biopolitical context.
In this respect, the air is the main element of the
exhibition both formally and conceptually introduced into the exposition
through various objects that inform the viewer with the air’s presence or that
of absence. Artist seeks to highlight this contrast by creating an environment
of the celebration with objects that are transferring or containing air in
different forms, be it sparkling wine or balloons gradually deflating over the
duration of the show, staged in opposition to the x-ray lightboxes and screens,
which illuminate the images of the environment in which the air is absent or in
which one’s rights to the use of the air have been deprived.
Per convention, the air is free and defines the limits of
our world and as an intangible element, prevents our environment from being
absolutely hostile in the literal and metaphoric sense. By considering
that the space of the gallery is not only a space of exhibition but also space
where the contract is set between the host and the guest concerning all the
matters of the gallery including the air which the gallery contains the artist
identifies a juncture where space of aesthetics transgresses into that of
politics. From this perspective, auctioning the air is not fraudulent or a
senseless act. Furthermore, through this simple collective procedure of
defining the air’s price, and thus the possibility of its possession, this
unlimited intangible substance reveals the power of the host - be it the power
of an individual, a state, or a planet - to provide, limit or deprive guests of
this last element of hospitality- a priori available for all.
By contemplating on current practices of hostility, the artist
expands the host-guest relationship from family structures to the nation’s
immigration policies, as well as practices of cultural, environmental, and
political repressions by the state toward its own citizens. By understanding
that a globalized world is unwelcoming to everyone, or in other words that the
world turned hostile to itself, Ilin sees in it one of the reasons why we re-enact
our desire for different forms of escape or utopias, the recent of all, our
dream to escape to another planet.
The term hostipitality (blending hostility and hospitality) was
coined by Jacques Derrida, philosopher born Algerian and French, that describes
a relationship between a host and a guest when the hospitality practiced by the
host is never unlimited, and by being always conditioned to certain laws
defined by the host, it imposes some form of hostility towards the guest. For
Derrida, the host’s environment is never completely open and welcomes only
certain defined cultural and political identities. By seeking agreement and
reconciliation within itself, it eventually tends to expunge any possible
difference or alteration, ultimately becoming self-referential, which is the
worst form of hostility. Hence, the main question for Derrida is if one ever
experienced a condition of unlimited hospitality. By unfolding Derrida’s
inquiry in the setting of the exhibition, the artist seeks to challenge the
possibility of such conditions of unlimited hospitality and contemplate what is
this condition of ultimate hospitality would look like.