The Fourth Kind of Madness

Plato believed that only by cultivating the most pure and highest form of madness—Love—starting from a fragment of beauty in the sensuous world we could have then been able to extend it to other fragments of the world in equal measure and, slowly, become capable of discerning beauty in the conceptual realm. In his view, being cut off from sensuous beauty would ultimately inhibit our capacity to bring new beauty into the world.

Inspired by the postmodern shunning of beauty, the series reflects on the absence of beauty as a form of deprivation, and the presence of beauty as a social tool assisting us towards justice.

“The Fourth Kind of Madness“ elaborates on Elaine Scarry’s philosophical work on the relationship between beauty and justice, and the societal value of the unselfing that we undergo when standing in the presence of something beautiful, what philosopher and political activist Simone Weil called a “radical decentering”—possibly the only perceptual event where loss of perceived or pursued centrality coincides with acute pleasure. In the series I reconsider beauty as a subject, reevaluating it from an alternative perspective, which goes beyond counter-aesthetic frameworks for political and social engagement, and explore Scarry’s ideas on how our pursuit of notions of justice, equality and ethical fairness—or what political philosopher John Rawls calls a “symmetry of everyone's relations to each other”—is assisted by beauty and its availability to sensory perception.

Installation notes: once exhibited, the work creates a fluid, endless line in a constant state of flux, inspired by Plato’s definition of our experience of reality as the "world of infinite becoming”. Each fragment ultimately creates a psychological space focused on our own capacity to feel and act or react to the beauty of the world.

Using Format