Soft Machine

Secret Fresh | December 2017

Secret Fresh Sky Gallery, Ronac Lifestyle Center, Paseo de Magallanes, Makati City, Philippine

“Me And My Worried Shoes I”, Oil on canvas, 2017, 4ft x 3ft

The term is a metaphorical reference to the brain, drawing from the mind’s ability to manufacture dreams, aspire and imagine new realities and possibilities. While the “soft” can take on a literal sense—describing an organ of extremely delicate tissues—the adjective is more akin to the systems, in computer jargon, where programming and thinking occurs, very much like what the brain does for the human body. The word also resonates in a political sense, referring to persuasive approaches in exercising power and influence in the same manner that the brain houses not actualities but concepts
and ideas yet to be realized. But just like any machine, the mind is subjected to a constant threat of breaking down, tormented by fears and anxieties, by worries and doubts. This leads to yet another possible signification of Soft Machine: the heart as the site of emotions, the aspect of the individual vulnerable to feelings. Such layer of meaning may in turn suggest a unity between the heart and the mind, denying the dichotomy often drawn between thinking and feeling, being rational and emotional. In this sense, what troubles the mind can also cause burden in the form of pain, anguish, sadness or melancholy. The exhibition tracks these aspects of consciousness and sentiment through experimental video, installation, and a set of painted works. In various media, Johanna Helmuth relates worries and anxieties that challenge her being, and shares how she grapples with them in interacting with other people and keeping social relationships.
Themes of loyalty, resiliency, motivation, and triumph are suggested through narrative images or symbolic language. On this positive note, the works lend the figurative machine a much needed boost, an opportunity to recuperate in times of distress and exhaustion.

“Okay With Pain”, oil on canvas, 2017, 5ft x 7ft
“Campfire”, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 2017 
“So You Don’t Fly Away”, Oil on canvas, 2017, 4 x 4 ft
“Me And My Worried Shoes II”, Oil on canvas, 2017, 4ft x 3ft

“Me And My Worried Shoes III”, Oil on canvas, 2017, 4ft x 3ft