Unbearable Infinite presents parallel renderings of imagined and monumental prison structures. Ideologically, these spaces evoke a sense of confinement, yet Piranesi and Bennett both locate the infinite within a landscape of limitation. Their paradoxical exploration of the infinite draws upon Kant’s definition of the sublime. Viewers are invited to survey the incomprehensibility of limitless space.
In Piranesi’s work, staircases appear to extend upwards from the cavernous prisons without end. Bennett’s videos begin and end in a void; details build as the videos progress; plants quadruple in size; mannequins intertwine to form massive mechanic organisms. The spatial-temporal looping of the videos traps the viewer in a reality without bounds.
Prisoners held captive inside overwhelming architecture portray the hellishness of modern-day urban life. The figures in Piranesi’s prints are unidentifiable, completely obscured by dark shadows permeating the architectural structures. Similarly, Bennett’s three videos present the viewer with bleak playgrounds situated within vast landscapes of darkness. These environments are inhabited by homogenous figures, allowing viewers to envision themselves engaging in these ever-repeating, quotidian tasks.
The artists’ chosen mediums echo the impression of the infinite within the works, as both print and video are easily accessible and reproducible without constraints. The infinite and the unbearable converge with the realization that humans have shared the same anxieties across centuries. Despite the exhibition’s underlying terror, Unbearable Infinite seeks to illuminate the possibilities that can be found within these vast realities. Together, the works of Piranesi and Bennett can bring us to a state of catharsis, with the realization that within the infinite there is room to simply exist.