At the Well blog


Love is a Frequency

Alexa Karolinski and Ingo Niermann’s audiovisual work, and ongoing social movement, Army of Love reminds of the importance of love and closeness, as well as the need to expand normative concepts in their expression. Image: Alexa Karolinski & Ingo Niermann, Army of Love, 2016. HD film, sound, 40 min.

How to connect in isolation? How to release the need for control and surrender to the unknown? These questions have informed Ilari Laamanen’s curatorial practice this year. They also act as starting points for Unity, an exhibition on view at SIC, Helsinki, 8.10.–13.11.2022.

A couple of years ago, I visited Amma for a hug. I was especially curious about things surrounding the fleeting experience of hugging. Such as the desire to gather for a common cause. Or the desire to receive affection and be seen, however transiently, after waiting for hours in a packed congress hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

My cynical friend, who had invited me to the event, was disappointed. According to his own words, he didn’t feel a thing. Our conversation reminded me that sometimes expectations are the biggest obstacles blocking us from feeling. Demands and criticism follow a certain logic. Love, on the other hand, is not logical. It accepts.

Through Plastic Theatre, Krzysztof Jung, a pioneer of Polish queer art, was searching for a shared, visual and sensuous equivalent of the corporeal experience. Image: Krzysztof Jung, Performans wspólny (Joint performance), 1980. Photo: Janusz Prajs. Courtesy of Dorota Krawczyk-Janish and Maryla Sitkowska.

Love is a frequency. It can be seen as a passionate way of doing or making something, like art. It can come across as contentment, like being completely comfortable in your own body. Sometimes not saying something can be the most supportive and loving thing to do. In the same way, many loving gestures are carried out without the knowledge of others, without the expectation of reciprocation or attention.

Unconditional giving is radical. So radical that it might cause a short circuit in the receiver’s brain and momentarily make them more defensive. That doesn’t mean the giving was wasted. Unconditional giving, as the name implies, does not expect or require response.

But before giving to others, we have to learn to accept ourselves. This can be quite the process because we are conditioned to think that satisfaction does not rise from within, but is achieved through external achievements and acceptance. Yet, the truth is that getting approval in itself can’t make a person whole, albeit it can enhance the process.

For 25 years, BLESS has been questioning boundaries related to art and design, objecthood and usability, and private and public space. Their enveloping blanket depicts a person enjoying an uninterrupted moment with water. Image: BLESS N°61 Swimmingtogether Bathing Blanket (c) BLESS 2017.

While togetherness is a big part of love, the other half is about cultivating freedom and learning to let go. We are meant to evolve and transmute, together and as individuals. Dying is a natural part of this process of life and love.

In the end, love is not about giving and receiving, it’s in the being. It’s not a tradeoff. Love doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with another individual, either. Love is a frequency. When being in love, it becomes clear that on a deeper level we are all interconnected. In a way, we are all one.

Unity, 8.10.–13.11.2022, SIC, Helsinki. Featuring work by: BLESS, Nadine Byrne, Krzysztof Jung, Alexa Karolinski, Ingo Niermann, Elina Vainio. Curated by: Ilari Laamanen.