The project, installation, objects, texts, film screenplays – Vladimir Opara
Films editing, computer graphics – Maya Opara
Translation of texts Anastasiya Opara, Max Berends.
Assistance in the organization of the exhibition - PULCHRI STUDIO, DCR Studio, Tineke Nusink, Karel Kurving.
Article in the Pulchri magazine - Mihael Toorop
1. Alles gebeurt onder de hemel. 2. Aarde is altijd aarde zijn en mengt niet met de hemel. 3. Maar de mens van de aarde zoekt de hemel te bereiken. 4. Zij bereiken het nooit. 5. En zij keren naar de aarde terug. 6 Zij worden onderdeel van de aarde. 7 De hemel is altijd dichtbij en het verlangen blijft. 8. Er zijn altijd ladders en de hemelwaartse beweging is tastbaar. 9. Ieder heeft zijn eigen ladder, maar niet iedereen kan zijn verlangen vervullen en de hemel zien. 10. Alles gebeurt onder de hemel. 11.En de aarde is onder de hemel. 12. De hemel verenigd zich met de aarde en stuurt het water van de hemel naar de aarde. 13. Het water uit de hemel geeft leven. 14. Maar en zijn momenten dat de hemel verenigt met het water en op aarde valt. 15. Gebeden en vloeken die men naar de hemel richt. 16. Maar hun verlangen is ook op de hemel gericht. 17. Jacob zag een ladder en engelen die afdaalden uit de hemel en naar de hemel rezen. 18. Hij had een keuze: of hij de ladder zou beklimmen. 19. Ik ben geen Engel zei hij, en kan de ladder met beklimmen. 20. Maar hij gehoorzaamde de heer en deed het. 21. De hemel is altijd daar. 22. Er is een keuze. 23. Alles gebeurt onder de hemel. 24. En Cain vermoorde Abel onder de Hemel.
1. Everything happens under the heavens. 2. The earth always remains earth and does not mix with the heavens. 3. But people who come from the earth seek to reach the heaven. 4. But they never reach it. 5. And they return to earth. 6. And they become a part of it. 7. The heavens are always there and the human desire remains. 8. And there are always ladders and the movement to the heavens is palpable. 9. Everyone has their own ladders, but not everyone can fulfill this desire and see the heavens. 10. Everything happens under the heavens. 11. And the earth is under the heavens. 12. And the heavens unite with the earth sending the waters of the heavens down to earth. 13. And the waters of the heavens give life. 14. But there are times when the heavens unite with water and fall upon the earth. 15. Prayers and curses people send to the heavens. 16. But their desires are also turned to the heavens. 17. Jacob saw a ladder and angels descending from the heavens and ascending to the heavens. 18. And he had a choice: to climb the ladder or not. 19. I'm not an angel, he said, to ascend the ladder. 20. But he obeyed the Lord and did it. 21. The heavens are always there. 22. And there is a choice. 23. Everything happens under the heavens. 24. And Cain killed Abel under the heavens.
1. всё происходит под небесами. 2. земля всегда остаётся землёю и не смешивается с небесами. 3. но люди произошедшие из земли стремятся достичь небес. 4. но не достигают никогда. 5. и возвращаются в землю. 6. и становятся её частью. 7. небеса всегда рядом и желание остаётся. 8. и лестницы всегда есть и движение в небеса ощутимо. 9. у каждого свои лестницы, но не всем дано постичь это желание и увидеть небеса. 10. всё происходит под небесами. 11. и земля под небесами. 12. и небеса соединяются с землёй посылая воды небесные на землю. 13. и воды небесные дают жизнь. 14. но бывает время когда небеса объединяются с водой и обрушиваются на землю. 15. мольбы и проклятия человек обращает к небесам. 16. но и желания его обращены к небесам. 17. Иаков увидел лестницу и ангелов сходящих с небес и восходящих на небеса. 18. и у него был выбор: взойти по лестнице или не делать это. 19. не ангел я, сказал он, чтобы подниматься по лестнице. 20. но послушался Господа и сделал это. 21. небеса всегда рядом. 22. и есть выбор. 23. всё происходит под небесами. 24. и Каин убил Авеля под небесами.
Opening exhibition "Heavens" - Vladimir Opara
Dr. Dr. Ad van der Helm, Parish Vicar of the Jacobus de Meerdere Church in Den Haag, explained the religious texts used in the works at the exhibition.
A ladder is meant to climb up. But you must discover the ladder and find the courage to climb it. Jacob in the Old Testament, the book of Genesis, sees the ladder on the lowest point of his life. Crisis. Loneliness. Guilt. He arriveson this place in the desert and falls asleep. Very often in the Bible this sleep refers to depression: Adam, Jona and Elija are three other well-known sleeping depressive persons. Jacob sees the ladder and the Lord stands by him. Not as you might think on the top of the ladder. No, He stand next to Jacob and points at the ladder. “Here is the house of the Lord” Jacob calls out in the morning. But nothing can be seen anymore. A stone reminds of this dream. A stone anointed by Jacob. An anointed stone as we find in every catholic and orthodox church. This altar in church reminds of the same anointed stone, of the ladder into heaven and of the invitation to climb this ladder.
With the church fathers the ladder became the symbol of a spiritual life; the most famous is John Climacus, 7e century in the famous monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of mount Sinaï, Egypt. We all go somewhere and why not take the ladder? Instead of looking shallowly to our reality as everyday life, we can also have a different regard to our reality and through this reality discover another reality. The ladder will help us here.
It is an extraordinary experience to contemplate the works of Vladimir Opara. I have been looking into his catalogue for some weeks and thought about the themes that he delivers us. These are religious themes. Not self-evident for an art gallery in a modern city like The Hague. For Vladimir heaven signifies a presence. It is for him a way of looking at the life of mankind. I also read his notes for this exhibition ‘Heavens’. Heaven is about mankind. Also about the catastrophes that might occur. Reflecting about heavens doesn’t mean to look away or deny these catastrophes. But looking at heavens gives consolation and offers the reason not to lose trust in mankind.
I want to share with you this afternoon the ideas and feelings that come up with me by the words and images of Vladimir. I want to share with you how I want to climb the ladder myself. Not in order to tell you how you have to do this yourself, but as an invitation to discover your own ladder and take hold of it.
What fascinates me in the words that Vladimir offers today, is living in the time of the eighth day. For us as Christians this eighth day returns every week when we celebrate Sunday. Sunday is the eighth day that follows the seventh day, the Sabbath. Sabbath is the restday of the Lord by with creation is completed. The Sunday after this restday is not the first day of the week, but it means the beginning of another life. The Sunday has therefor another, symbolic meaning. It is not about whether or not commercial Sundays are permitted; I don’t mind so much. For me it is not an issue anymore. I can do without them. But whoever gives him/herself the opportunity for a day different from the others, whoever makes room for the eighth day in his/her life, has started to climb up the ladder. He/she wants to rise above the ground level of our flat country. Our country is extremely flat. Vladimir is very impressed by the flatness of our country, and he also tells about the catastrophes that have occurred in the floods of 1953 and 1916. I am more negative on the flatness of the Netherlands: we can make our country so flat that there is no place to put our ladder.
Where else can a ladder find support than in heaven? Heaven is our focus for the other reality that surrounds us, like the oxygen that we breathe without seeing it. Heaven is like the huge firmament that opens up our regards to new distances and perspectives that we otherwise would ignore. I do not talk about looking up, because it is a misunderstanding that heaven is above us. Heaven is not a place, but an invitation to choose another perspective to contemplate our reality.
There is also another ladder that invites us and that you can find in the work of Vladimir Opara. That is the cross. Probably you are not used to see the parallel between a ladder and a cross. Yet the cross is also a ladder put against heaven. May be you will say: the cross is not a ladder, it is the end of life? Indeed it is a torture instrument used by the Romans for their slaves. The first Christians hesitated some centuries before they dared to show the cross as their symbol and sign of recognition. The apostle Paul struggles also with the meaning of the cross. It reveals itself not as an end, but as a passage. The cross is the ultimate paradox because with this instrument of torture love becomes visible. The ladder elevates us above our reality and gives another perspective on our own human life. On the cross, the climax of the life of Jesus Christ, it becomes clear to what love a person is capable of, even if life is made impossible and taken away. “Forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” or “mother, see, there is your son; son see there is your mother” and other mysterious words and gestures make clear that on the cross life is not taken away, but life is given.
This is living on the eighth day. This is living in a world that is not flat. That is living in a world not threatened by a lack of vision about beauty. That is living in a world not lacking of a vision on real life. This is loving in a world not threatened by a lack of vision on what is lasting happiness. Of course there are catastrophes that menace the world and mankind. And people are angry with heaven: why this is done to us? But not heaven is to blame. Heaven is benevolent, and invites us to climb the ladder instead of lying down and remaining asleep like a depressive Jacob. We’d better get up and rise.
Vladimir Opara offers much more to reflect upon and to let feelings come up. It is up to us to understand what this means to ourselves and what ladder we want to climb. Lying down is no option. I hope that you discover by this exhibition what height, width and depth surround us en that in this universe the reality of life of the eighth day is opening up to us. This gives comfort, peace and trust in a restless and a cruel and sometimes ugly world. Life can be so beautiful!
Ad van der Helm,
Pulchri Studio, Den Haag, 24 February 2018