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Theories of comfort

participatory exhibition

12th - 26th November 2021

In a world that is going through changes that affect the daily life of an individual, we are faced and left to ourselves to find appropriate coping mechanisms with the fear that this kind of objective uncertainty brings with it. The pandemic crisis affects all spheres of human life - from existential and life security to relationships with other people. In the impossibility of knowing about the end of the current crisis, where the only thing certain is that some changes are permanent, the need for security comes as a collective experience.

The notions of safety and comfort have acquired, in a time and society that operates on multitasking and precarious working conditions, a pejorative connotation. Nevertheless, the pandemic crisis has shown that spaces, habits and rituals that provide security to an individual, in conditions of forced isolation and a lack of social activities, are necessary for a person's personal development.

​The feelings we are faced with in the situation we collectively experience can be defined as grieving. We grieve because the world is changing irrevocably, we are not comforted by the temporary nature of this collective experience, and we fail to find comfort in its transience.


This kind of grief is revealed as a collective experience, but it can also be characterized as anticipatory grieving, i.e. as the kind of grief that occurs in response to the fact that neither the individual nor the collective can be sure of what the future holds. It is a sadness that "runs" into the future and imagines the worst scenarios. At the same time aware that the known / established / "normal" patterns of coexistence are lost and do not provide us with emotional support that helps to cope with everyday stress, we have to turn to those known mechanisms of coping with grief - rituals, habits and things in which we are used to find comfort and safety.

The Theories of Comfort exhibition is based on a collective reflection on current situations in which we try to find answers to collective fear and discomfort, by researching new art forms. Through a public call, we collected the contributions of forty participants, who took part in the creation of the exhibition, either by borrowing a book and indicating the part they want to share with others, or by virtually sending paragraphs that are significant to them. 


The exhibition is part of Komfortacije project, which aims to awaken a sense of comfort and collective security through reading - the text (literary, theoretical) in this case is revealed as a starting point for shaping the mechanisms of coping with the grief we are faced with today. Through monthly reading groups and radio shows, weekly newsletters and performative workshops, we contrast the so-called theories of comfort with the so-called theories of fear, and in this way we encourage the participants and the wider audience to fulfil their daily lives by reading, to find comfort and inspiration. The project is being implemented from July to December 2021, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia as part of the Public Call for proposals for programs that encourage reading in the Republic of Croatia for the year 2021.

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