Perfection is static, it gives little room to feel, connect, learn, and to grow. The small glitches in nature, in human behavior, interactions and experiences are what make life interesting and are catalysts for positive change and innovation. Aiming at perfection – be it in our personal or professional lives, appearances in or in art-making – deprives us of experiencing the beauty and tenderness of the in-between, the flawed space, from which intimate connections and interpretations can arise. More so, does perfection exist at all, or is it rather an ever-elusive idea that leaves us permanently unsettled and dissatisfied? What happens when we leave behind the binary of perfection and imperfection and celebrate the depth and possibilities that inhibit any imperfect moment, experience, or image?
The common expression‚ “perfectly imperfect” often refers to human relationships meaning to stress that a person is appreciated as “perfect” in their “imperfect”, flawed being. It often also refers to a positive perception of ourselves – our appearance, character, and whole being. In a more metaphorical sense, the Japanese art of “kintsugi” celebrates the imperfection by repairing cracked pottery with gold lacquer. Instead of hiding the flaws, the individuality which it adds to the object is highlighted. This practice derived from the Zen Buddhist concept ‚wabi-sabi’ which embraces a world view based on the appreciation of imperfection, transcience, and impermanence. The story of the cracked teapot from ancient Chinese culture further highlights this approach to life, the world, and the self:
The Cracked Pot
An elderly Chinese woman completed a daily trek to the stream past her home and back to supply her family with fresh water. In order to do this, she fashioned a heavy pot on each end of a long pole, which she carried across her shoulders.
One of the pots was in perfect condition and always delivered a full portion of water. The other had a deep crack in it, causing water to leak out. At the end of the long walk, the cracked pot arrived only half full. This situation occurred daily for two years, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it had perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman by the stream. “I am ashamed,” it said. “This crack in my side causes water to leak out. You work so hard and yet have little water once you return home.”. The old woman smiled and replied,
Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day, while we walked back home, you watered those seeds and helped them to grow. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table and give to neighbors. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been this special beauty to grace our homes and lives.
(IM)PERFECTIONS explores how Atugonza Richard’s and Odur Ronald’s work relates to the idea of imperfection as the perfect reality. The viewer can explore different ways of experiencing this direction in their works, such as the process of creating, the use and choice of materials as well as the final work.
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