17 April - 4 May 2013

Opening Night | Thursday 18 April 6-8pm

Leela Schauble

Schauble explores the esoteric nature of the human psyche and human interactions. The works in Uncertain reference the artist's personal life and predicaments to portray the ambiguity within our communications and relations to one another.

IMAGES | Leela Schauble, Reach, 2013, photograph on paper, 80 x 50cm | Images courtesy of the artist. 


Where people appear, they act. Where there is human action, there seems to be ambiguity. People act in several different ways but it may be said that consciously there are only three ways; to seek goals, to play, and to act ambiguously.1 Often ambiguity within the social construct may be fathomed as a destructive or an undesired behaviour. It may be used to send messages that carry multiple meanings or shaped to suspend outcomes, creating uncertainty in its wake.

There are no attempts here to identify what exactly ambiguity is. To do this would give the concept a notion of solidarity, a sureness, that it does not embody; to make clear that which by its very nature is not totally clear.2 There are, however, certain aspects of this idea that can be assumed as truth. Conceptually it can be assumed that ambiguity embodies a realm of fractal clarity. It can and does exist among people and is, in fact, the substance of which much of social life is made of. People may be the only beings that are capable of choosing to act ambiguously, and through this we understand what people are for.

It is tricky to determine when we decide to act ambiguously, what are the motives and the desired results? People try it whenever they observe that their environment becomes too definite or too indefinite. In other words, people will try to act ambiguously when they conclude that the only options for action available to them are those associated with either problem solving or play.3 For instance, when do people try to make jokes? Usually, whenever they or the situation in which they find themselves, is becoming too certain or too uncertain.

This exhibition examines human ambiguity and the role it plays within relationships. Drawn from personal experiences, Uncertain, offers the possibility of showing the existence of ambiguity as an active reality in personal life. When we believe we love an other and are loved in return, we must be aware that the relationship depends on the maintenance of ambiguous speech and actions, interpretations of those words and deeds, and minimisation of moments that call for confrontation.

This entire project was not only ambiguous in subject but also in nature. During the preparation for shoots and in discussions, one sent cryptic and fractioned messages while the other interpreted with uncertainty. Both participants had no idea what would result from their actions, nor did they choose to find out. As lovers there was already an ambiguous dialogue between them that they had grown accustomed to and the project left them completely undisturbed. “We had created a realm in that studio that was open to uncertainty, it was only when we left the space that we lost balance.”

A lover’s utterance is not always wholly clear, the statements and actions have to be interpreted by each other. The way we interpret these ambiguous statements seem to satisfy one or both sides of the relationship. If we were to reverse this process, the unwillingness of behaving ambiguously – not to smile, or not interpret an ambiguous behaviour, to pick up on cues – would be an instance of falling out of love. It is in these instances that lovers either forget or confront each other with mutual declarations of rights and obligations.4 When either lover cries out, “you don’t love me anymore!” it shows that one is no longer attending to the other’s ambiguity. Similarly, if one states, “you don’t trust me anymore,” it shows there is an implication that the other is not interpreting their ambiguous actions, in the spirit that they were intended. Not only does the realm of ambiguity exist in any permanent love relationship, but the reverse is as true: love exists within the field of ambiguity itself.5

What it really boils down to is ‘what is human worth?’ To be human has so little to do with our structural design or genetic programming. Instead, it is what we do and how we do it; How people act and how they communicate their actions to others. To be human is to be able to choose to act ambiguously.

- Leela Schauble, 2013

1-2 Mark Reader and Donald J. Wolf. “On Being Human”. Sage Publications Inc (1973). pp.186-202

3-5 Mark Reader. “The Politics of Avoidance: On the Contours of Ambiguity”, The University of Chicago Press (1963). pp. 268-284

4 D.F Aberle. “The Functional Prerequisites of Society”, The University of Chicago Press (1950), pp.100-111