Curatorial Statement 

Spectacles. Speculations… takes an experimental exhibitionary approach to analyzing the contemporary condition of the image given its immanence of aesthetics and politics. The exhibition grounds its conception of images in the logic of appearances. Images thus considered conflate symbolic, gestural, material, still, moving, analog, virtual, digital, aural, and textual forms. These, in often sophisticated and multivalent configurations, tend to construct our everyday reality and, in some cases, determine the absolute experience by which our daily lives are regimented mainly via mass media, advertising, and the Internet.

How have images been used in conditioning imaginations in a global society plagued by mass surveillance, mass hacking, ecological crises, financial meltdowns, obscene wealth concentration and privatization of mass media: in short, the spectacular crises of capitalism and the failure of democracy in our time? Since the early twentieth century, there have been organized efforts by artists, filmmakers, dramatists and intellectuals to pervert the conventional as well as institutional limits of art; from the Soviet Union, through Euro-America, to Latin America and Africa — we can respectively cite Constructivists and productivist filmmakers, Dadaists, Situationists, Minimalists, auteur cineastes, and third cinema filmmakers. Although these dispositions oscillate between reformist and revolutionary attitudes, what they share is the tendency for art’s profanation; subverting its commodification, and, by this, undermining the traditional values of capitalism. Artistic practice, in this context, is no longer thought of merely as fulfillment of aesthetic enjoyment or contemplation oblivious to the systemic conditions that determine its “distribution of the sensible”1, but for its political viability and making the production, spectatorship and ownership of art the property of commons. The curatorial model for the exhibition is informed by such emancipatory attitudes of the past century.

In this spirit of transgression, Spectacles. Speculations… features works by fifteen artists based in Africa, Latin America and Europe who actively seek to transcend the limits of what is possible with respect to their mediums. The exhibition remixes various visual, auditory and gestural technologies— braille, text, photography, video, film, sound, black box theatre, computer-aided design, installation, sculpture, and spoken word poetry— into new spatio-temporal relationships. Through strategies of distraction, absorption, translation, relational aesthetics, and site-specificity the exhibition functions as a constellation of sites reflexively manufacturing new visualities.

 

Note:

  1. I borrow this expression as used by Jacques Rancière in “The Politics of Aesthetics” (2004). For Rancière, it is what “reveals who can have a share in what is common to the community based on what they do and on the time and space in which this activity is performed. Having a particular ‘occupation’ thereby determines the ability or inability to take charge of what is common to the community; it defines what is visible or not in a common space, endowed with a common language, etc”. See Rancière J, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, Continuum International Publishing Group, London/New York. (2004)

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