Kate Aspinall

Artist in Residence
Period of Stay: 
October 2020 - January 2021
Independent historian, writer and artist, the UK
Project Title: 
To Tame a Bubble, a Homo Bulla Project
Project Abstract: 

To Tame a Bubble is a rethinking of the ancient tradition of homo bulla (‘man is a bubble’), where the bubble is a metaphor for the brevity, beauty and fragility of human life. I will make a series of expressionist, mixed-media paintings which re-imagine this humanist tradition from a critical, twenty-first century perspective. My aims in producing this body of work are twofold: (1) To engage with homo bulla as a recurring motif through European history, connecting artists across time and national borders right up to contemporary philosophy, and (2) To explore how this tradition can be critically updated in light of new conceptions of the (un)isolate-able space of the self (e.g. ethics of new technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic) and new forms of cynicism (e.g. political and climate denials), ultimately investigating what roles cynicism and hope hold for us now. My project emerges from my technical, emotional and intellectual fascination with how the ideals of European humanism – including the optimism that we could ‘tame’ ourselves – have failed or saved us in light of new socio-political, epidemiological and climatic events. Re-imagining the homo bulla is thus my own memento mori as an individual and also as a world citizen, trying to understand the patrimony of the artistic and intellectual heritage that formed us and to locate where hope remains.