Artists: Lilli Thiessen, Louise Lawler, Trisha Donnelly, Ei Arakawa, Cinzia Ruggeri, Greg Parma Smith, Sophie Gogl, Yasmina Haddad, Andrea Fraser, Tonio Kröner, Bonnie Camplin, Nicole Wermers, Miranda July, Ernst Yohji Jaeger
Venue: Universitätsgalerie der Angewandten im Heiligenkreuzerhof, Vienna
Exhibition Title: We need more than one term for these big things
Curated by: Melanie Ohnemus
Date: October 30, 2019 – January 25, 2020
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artists and Universitätsgalerie der Angewandten im Heiligenkreuzerhof. Photos by Till Megerle& Melanie Ohnemus.
The exhibition We need more than one term for these big things presents artworks that show tendencies of an already emancipated feminism. This is an exploration of a kind of speculative feminism not derived from a place of lack but rather from the assertion of already emancipated positions standing in equitable communication with other disciplines. This starting point also includes the question as to the representative functions bestowed on the word feminism, and, knowing of the historicity of the discourse, how it can be possible to posit a distinct feminism as an approach within a subjectively informed ethics of adequate behavior. This means not merely negotiating contexts in the light of their preconditions and in symbolic terms, but also including already existing arrangements within different systems and institutions in conceptual and formal decisions concerning the production of different formats, and editing these accordingly.
This conceptual context can thus be transferred to other systems too, which would mean that all knowledge, including knowledge of our own symbolically connoted projections, is included in the work at hand. Perception of the format chosen in each case would be subject to adjustment, given the presence of other formats operating within the same field. Representative proxyship and the arbitrary characteristics of conventional ascription would be eliminated. It is the specific advantage and achievement of art to resist such unambiguous or determinate orders and to engage critically with them. The problem here lies with the assumption as to the symbolic value of the exhibition format itself, and the conventional belief that an exhibition can truly represent or make a case for a certain context. This assertion is usually brought in correspondingly organized textual formats that propose contexts and ways of reading, often by drawing on a claim to a popular relevance that is not specifically named. Here too, it would be preferable to see the structure of exhibiting not exclusively as the result of linguistic orders of representation but rather to consider and create the exhibition entity in itself, such that it becomes its own structuring language and content.
I believe that this would be both possible and do justice to the field of exhibition making. Representation can and must be one of many aspects included in work on this kind of structure. Parallel processes of reflection on representation and on subjectivity, and the materialized decisions that emerge from these, seem to me to be an adequate method. Empathizing in this way with the structures of artistic production means deploying control by means of a selection of already self-empowered position and claims, making use of the specific quality of art, positing art’s speculative evidence in the service of meta-level statements, and guiding art to become its own text in its own format.
As a consequence, the question arises as to how contemporary art production may situate itself between historicity and self-assertion or between the negativity inscribed into it and the possibility of speculative positivity. In particular, it seems important to me in this context to ask how far and in what form artistic strategies make use of the popular and also operate increasingly within its contexts. Can a difference to other areas of social production still be maintained? How far is artistic production, and at the same time the representation system of its dissemination, a lackey of its own dialectic of innovation harnessed to market strategies? From this perspective, conceptual and dissemination systems are always positioned within the bounds of their own indirect reality and the reality they disseminate. It is precisely at this juncture that the inclusion and exclusion of power systems take place. I believe that awareness of all of this, and the conceptual deployment of this awareness under the premise of a decisive assessment of all the elements available, will lead to a qualitatively more interesting approach. The inevitably deviating concepts and formats that this engenders thus barely seem to be vulnerable to the claims made by conventional agreements.