An exhibition about the power of myths and stories in politically troubled Europe
— 27 September 2020
Location: IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture
Beneath the slick surfaces of social media platforms, political debates rage in the endless comment sections where agony rules. From within these carnivalesque echo-chambers it appears as though the political consensus of the twentieth century is collapsing. Emerging from the wreckage are expressions of political collectivity that many considered relegated to the dustbin of history.
Affording ever more radical expressions of tribal identity, social media platforms are now feeding the raw material of youth culture directly into the nationalist populist insurgency that is currently sweeping across the planet. Like advertising executives and pop singers the authoritarian figures that influence these movements recognize the vital power in the cliché that “the children are our future”—as did the Fascisti a century earlier.
Appealing to the same esoteric lore that also haunts contemporary fantasy entertainment, many of these movements traffic in mythical tales of national rebirth and “rooted” national identity. Evoking the fear of an existential enemy at the gates of Fortress Europe—or more often an enemy within—this new political style is particularly successful on the terrain of online culture war.
The artists collected in this exhibition establish a coordinate system of autonomous realities in which intersectional forms of collective identity provide an alternative to essentialism, suggesting the power of storytelling as a means for positive and inclusive change rather than a return to a fictional past.
The exhibition is curated by Marc Tuters, Inez de Coo and Arjon Dunnewind. With Clusterduck, Simon Denny, Andy King, Szabolcs KissPál, Annika Larsson, Sulaïman Majali, Dorine van Meel, Liliana Piskorska, Jon Rafman and Jonas Staal.
Clusterduck is an interdisciplinary collective working at the crossroads of research, visual communication and transmedia, focusing on the processes and actors behind the creation of Internet-related content. It curated the online exhibition #MEMEPROPAGANDA, hosted by Greencube Gallery, which was presented at The Influencers Festival (Barcelona), Tentacular Festival (Madrid), IFFR (Rotterdam), Urgent Publishing (Amsterdam, Arnheim), Radical Networks (Berlin) and others. Clusterduck is currently developing Meme Manifesto, a physical collection of printed memes and a web-based collective project aiming to show how deep the web can go. The first stage of the project will be developed at IMPAKT (NL) during the EMAP / EMARE residency programme. Clusterduck is creating the new participative exhibition format #MEMERSFORFUTURE, investigating the role of memetics in the global climate justice movement. The exhibition will be shown IRL at re:publica 2020, and to other locations around the globe. Clusterduck is also developing three different formats of collective research workshops: #HYPECOMPASS, #EscapeTheFunnel and #SOMECOMPASS. These were presented at “Sharing/Learning - Methods of the Collective” at UdK Berlin; The Influencers Festival, Barcelona; and Simposio 2019, Borca di Cadore. The group also curated online/offline exhibitions and interventions like the Wrong Digital Biennale pavilion "Internet Fame" at panke.gallery, "Make URL self at Home" at Arebyte On Screen and "Pack Your Stuff" at Offsite Project.
Jon Rafman― Artist
In his video films and installations, Canadian artist Jon Rafman (1981, Montreal) explores the social effects of digital media. The artist is fascinated by how the boundless possibilities of the Internet and virtual platforms affect and redefine our behaviour, social life, and even personal identity. In his work he oscillates between wit, melancholy and alienation. Rafman is regarded as one of the leading artists of the digital age, and has a huge online following.
Annika Larsson― Artist
In her films and videos, Annika Larsson explores relationships of power between subjects that allude to greater social themes such as economics and gender. Using a filmmaking style that favors close-ups, Larsson creates elliptical non-narrative documents of simple acts and gestures. The artist builds her themes subtly, hinting at interpersonal power dynamics without dictating her position, often featuring animals and men in business suits. “The hypnotic beauty of Ms. Larsson’s images never falters, and their ambiguities never resolve,” writes art critic Roberta Smith. “This may be how she manages to make both the allure and ugliness of power unambiguously clear.”
Liliana Piskorska― Artist
Visual artist, born in 1988, based in Wroclaw/Poland. In 2017 she finished her PhD at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Torun. She has taken part in over 90 individual and group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She is finalist of Forecast Forum in Haus der Kulturen der Welt/Berlin in 2017 and Audience Award Winner: Views 2019: Deutsche Bank Award. In her artistic work, she analyses social issues from the perspective of radical sensitivity, rooted in the feminist-queer and feminist-posthumanist practice and theory. She focuses on dependencies between the state, the nation, Central European identity and the position of peripheral identities. She undertakes the subject of queer lesbianism and non-heteronormativity, considering their construction and potentiality and examines the place of the Other in constructing state projects. Some important elements of her practice include the questions of group identity, group memory, construction of the law, and the methods of building imagined communities.
Andy King― Artist
Andy King (UK) is a digital media artist whose satirical, political and often ironic works focus on internet subcultures and themes of loneliness and human relationships in a digital age. She explores life as part of the first generation which experiences popular culture through the internet — bringing with it the blurring of distinctions between truth and fiction, copy and original, and private and public spaces. King often works with found images and videos, photographing and manipulating them repeatedly in a way that mimics how information is disseminated and distorted online.
Simon Denny― Artist
Simon Denny (*1982 Auckland/New Zealand, lives in Berlin) is an artist whose work explores the cultures and values behind contemporary technologies. In recent years, Denny has looked at the exploitation of information in data-economies, using his work to visualise systems of competing political and economic visions, interrelationships of labour, capital, developments in technologies, and impacts on the biosphere. He studied at the University of Auckland (2005), and the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main (2009). Denny’s work has been exhibited recently in solo exhibitions in the K21 in Düsseldorf (2020); Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (2019); MOCA, Cleveland (2018); OCAT, Shenzhen (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2016); Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); Adam Art Gallery, Wellington (2014); MUMOK, Vienna (2013); Kunstverein Munich (2013). He represented New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. His works are represented in institutional collections including MoMA (New York), Walker Art Centre (Minneapolis), Kunsthaus Zürich (Zürich), Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Berlin) and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington). Denny co-founded the BPA//Berlin Program for Artists, an artist mentoring program in 2016. Since 2018, he is a professor for Time Based Media at the HFBK, Hamburg.
Jonas Staal― Artist
Jonas Staal (1981) is an artist and founder of the artistic and political organization New World Summit (2012-ongoing) and the campaign New Unions (2016-ongoing). Staal’s work includes interventions in public space, exhibitions, theater plays, publications, and lectures, focusing on the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda. Recent solo exhibitions include Art of the Stateless State (Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, 2015), New World Academy (BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 2015), After Europe (State of Concept, Athens, 2016) and Museum as Parliament (with the Democratic Federation of North Syria, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2018). His projects have been exhibited widely, among others at the Berlin Biennial (2012), the São Paulo Biennial (2014), the Oslo Architecture Triennial (2016) and the Göteborg Biennial (2017). Recent books by Staal include Nosso Lar, Brasília (Jap Sam Books, 2014), Stateless Democracy (With Dilar Dirik and Renée In der Maur, BAK, 2015), and Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective (Het Nieuwe Instituut, 2018). The artist is a regular contributor to e-flux journal and completed his PhD research Propaganda Art from the 20th to the 21st Century at the PhDArts program of the University of Leiden. Staal lives and works in Athens and Rotterdam.