TAKE MY HAND AND I’LL SHOW YOU WHAT WAS AND WILL BE. A closing line to an opening song of a final album. An invitation to an exploration of the wide-ranged conditions of human identity and contemplations on them.Being attracted by the aesthetics of both the immensely atrocious as well as the overwhelmingly beautiful, we as human beings deal with universal issues. The undeniable disparity between what we as a society commonly agree upon as real life and our individually perceived reality – aligned to the purpose of prevarication – remains uncanny. Self-destructive behavioural patterns reflect on the paradigms of contemporary times and emotional mechanisms, as seductive illusions consume us with heart and soul.Embracing those identity fomenting directions emerging from plurality, proprioceptively renegotiating the fragility of both the physical and the virtual self, this tone-setting and program-defining group exhibition explores this spectrum in all its beauty and atrocity.
Entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by Christiane Peschek’s (*1984, AT) GIRLS CLUB. The series of self-portraits of the artist printed on silk deals with the hype of a generic beauty towards the female face and the constant desire for youth and happiness, we are thriving for. Through excessive selfie-editing and retouching, Peschek’s face gets to a point of un-identifiability, as our own online alter egos often do.
This need to be perfect is continued by Stine Deja’s (*1986, DK) „Perfect Human“. A smooth silver avatar moves in the infinite space of the screen showing and telling us what the perfect human looks like and how the perfect human behaves. The video is an hommage to the 1967 short film „Perfect Human“ by Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth, which examines what it means to be human in his day and age. With her video Deja reworks and digitalizes his observations on what it means to be perfectly human anno 2015. Yet the artist’s version has shifted away from the clinical white room and moved into the virtual reality of a screen where you can be anyone. With this piece Stine Deja questions how we become who we are, how we process our experiences and how given roles affect us.
Margot Pilz‘ (*1936, NL) „Sekundenskulpturen“ from 1978 raise similar questions, focusing even more on womanhood and feminism, topics that have, to this day, not lost any of their relevance.„Issues with my other half“: Anna Vasof’s (*1985, CZ) joyful video plays with our human existence and different ways we perceive reality. The artist shows, in a humorous way, the infinite possibilities to distort reality in the virtual space.
Leslie de Chavez‘ (*1978, PHL) 9 part „Homo Metaphoris“ brings human cruelty to our eyes which we, as Europeans, are not confronted with often. Through his large scale shiny work the artist depicts the Philippine’s cruel history of colonialism, power struggle and social issues. His practice entails the resurfacing of historical templates, re-examining contemporary social disclosure and rediscovering introspection as methods to bring down the truth about many realities Filipino people experience.
Martina Menegon’s (*1988, IT) monumental work “when you are close to me I shiver” is an algorithmically controlled live simulation, a real-time generated virtual reality that takes place in a version of the future in which humans, out of desperation, gather in masses on the last remaining piece of land. Inspired by the walrus scene in the documentary “Our Planet”(2019) narrated by David Attenborough and produced by Silverback Films, the project proposes an intense scenario encompassing our environmental and personal crises. It reflects on how we identify and connect ourselves in different realities while addressing the human condition in a world of ecological and therefore social crisis. “untouched” is a series of 3D Scan-Selfies presented as performative virtual sculptures with Augmented Reality capability. Menegon captures herself via 3D Scanning technique, using her physical body in movement to alter and “corrupt” the resulting virtual body. Using 3D Scanning as an artistic medium, Menegon’s self-scanning procedure becomes an intimate process, a journey towards a deep understanding of our virtual identities and selves. Challenging the notion of the virtual as appearing perfect while exposing the results of the scans “as is”, with all the beautiful flaws, mistakes and data loss, “untouched” presents a new authentic digital body, an avatar fixed in time yet always performing. Here the body escapes physicality and is virtually captured in the shape of a moment in time impossible to clearly define as it’s fluid act becomes a performative way to connect with new glitched selves.
Lars Eidinger’s (*1976, GER) photographs make us aware of societal paradoxes we encounter everyday. The sujets of homeless people and marginalised groups are to be seen as reminders that we have adapted to accept everyday cruelty as part of our life and raise the question of how we face our coping mechanisms.
Similar to Margot Pilz, Swiss artist Miriam Cahn (*1949, CH) influenced the feminist art movement in the 1970s and 80s. The motifs often seem banal at a first glance but bear a deep root of feminism and anti-violence movement. Cahn’s figures are often surrounded by a shadowy, atmospheric band of colour, a diffuse aura that mediates between the motif and the colourful non-figurative background. Traditionally, the hard, ‘masculine’ outline served to set figures apart from their surroundings and to establish them as self-identical individuals. Cahn, by contrast, creates transitions rather than borders; diffusion rather than difference.