Being in the World: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection is framed by the idea of situation as used by French philosopher, Jean-Paul Satre. For Sartre, 'situation' includes place-or the space where the individual's present ideas and projects are located, as well as individual memory. Sartre's concept is unrelated to 'Situationism' as developed by Guy Debord and Raoul Vaneigem, although they defined the term situation in quasi-Satrean terms, and his ideas were dismissed by post-structuralist and postmodernist thinkers who considered his thought "too Cartesian" to explain contemporary society.
In the last few years social critics have returned to Sartre's ideas to explain the current mobility of people and ideas in a world where media technology and globalization constantly test our sense of place. The Sartrean situation, or position,is a sum of past experiences combined with present circumstances and the people surrounding us - close friends, acquaintances as well as those who pass by without being consciously noticed. The exhibition proposes this as a useful model for understanding recent artworks which grapple with the individual in a changing world.