Clara Lissen’s newest online exhibition Potential Motive is rooted in a reflection on the existential crisis all humans go through on a daily basis . The artist offers no answer to the question of what the meaning of life is. To her, there is no meaning to be found, everything we do is an attempt to give shape to the inherit meaninglessness of life, to ‘inject’ it with meaning in a way. Throughout history, many forms have come and gone - e.g. religions or political systems - often systems which are (un-)knowingly forced upon us, determining the periphery of our movements. However, the quest hasn’t diminished. The form that seems to be dominating today’s world is the capitalist system. Meaning is no longer found in a transcendent being or dominant ruler, meaning is now consumed. It’s offered to us as a thing we can buy. And anything that can potentially hold meaning is for sale and can be consumed. Not only love, friendship, spirituality but also countries: souvenirshops are a telling example of the offers to purchase and acquire experiences and meaning through objects. You don’t have to understand the world, but you can consume it. Throughout the exhibition curtains and other ‘codes’ refer to this idea in their own, nearly illegible - though highly associative - way.
Souvenir dolls and old clothing brand patches are placed into a new and undefinable context, bizarrely highlighting the absurdity of their ‘innate’ consumerist promise. Another element, ‘the soulmate’, was inspired by the Greek myth of Aristophanes saying that human beings were originally spherical creatures with four arms, four legs and one head with two faces. According to this myth, the gods felt intimidated by the powers of these creature and Zeus split the creatures in half, forming needy humans, forever doomed to long for their other half. The reunion of both halves would constitute the finding of true love, completeness, for most people the meaning of life.The egg is a recurrent element in Clara’s practice and symbolises all the organisms which escaped life, all the lives that never lived. Time is the overarching layer in the Potential Motive installation. An empty table with two chairs holds the possibility of people having sat there in the past, or sitting there in the future. The whole room can also be read as an exhibition of time. Time that has passed or is still to come and the meaning that is given to it.
Accompanying the objects, a synth wave inspired soundscape suggests a particular mood, tying everything together. This music genre is based on music of futuristic computer games of the 80s, ‘the soundtrack of the apocalypse’ as it’s called by some. Music made for today in the past, retrofuturism. Since 2000, through online niche communities, the genre developed into a popular new source of nostalgia. Clara added original sounds NASA recorded from planets, emphasising human’s fascination and romanticisation of both the past and the future.