Coming To Your Senses by Zazie Stevens
15–19 June 2016
Opening: Friday, 17 June 6–9 p.m.

Placing emphasis on the ‘nothing to say’, the point of pointlessness.
The message of the flower is the flower.


The thought image is not the same as the visual image that appears when one looks at an actual thing. The mental image is vague; the image that appears to the physical eye is specific. Mental images appear as conceptual images of a perceived thing, encompassing the abstract trace of all images one has seen.

In the first moment of perception there is direct sensory experience. In the second moment, a concept arises, superimposed on direct perception. Vivid perception is obscured by that concept: instead of seeing, hearing, or tasting the clear, specific thing, one experiences its conceptual replicas through a filter of general understanding. The thing itself becomes vague, immediately loosing contact with its initial, singular affect.

Photographs can capture the space of love, they point to that love, poignantly suspending what text says. In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes looked for a photograph of his late mother and found it. But looking at the photograph he didn’t get over his loss. He had ‘nothing to say’, like Zen according to Alan Watts and corresponding to Freud’s distinction between mourning and melancholia. “The horror is this: I have no other recourse than this irony, to speak of the ‘nothing to say’”. Barthes’ last piece of writing, for a talk he never gave, was found on his desk at his death and was entitled: ‘One always fails in speaking of what one loves.’

Zazie Stevens (1988, NL) explored the relationship between artistic creativity, perception and meditative experience. By highlighting both clarity and obscurations through poetry, theoretical research and a series of exercises she investigated Buddhist art principles reflecting on her practice of documenting, relating to perception.

Coming To Your Senses is part of A Festival of Choices, Master of Fine Arts Graduation 2016, Sandberg Instituut, 15–19 June 2016, various locations throughout Amsterdam. A Festival of Choices emphasizes upon the relationship and choices made between the graduating student and the diverse range of institutions and organizations offered within the cultural landscape of Amsterdam. For more information and the full program, please check