The problem today is not the other but the self
MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 is pleased to present The problem today is not the other but the self, the first exhibition of this year’s program. Featuring works by James Gregory Atkinson & Helen Demisch, Doug Ashford, Andy Coolquitt, Flaka Haliti, and Lena Henke, The problem today is not the other but the self is dedicated to artistic productions that question the current status of subjective freedom and reflect about related issues in open processes. The exhibition runs through April 5, 2015.
The problem today is not the other but the self is concerned with questions arising from the increasing neoliberalization of society and digitalization of communication. Both processes thrive on our belief in individual freedom and are products as well as engines for political agendas and a free market economy. Yet, instead of a boundless surge in freedom, we are currently witnessing a crisis in our subjective experience of freedom. Chronic depression, excessive demands on our sensory perception, and burnout syndrome are some of the consequences of this development.
The exhibition title is based on the essays of philosopher Byung-Chul Han, who describes our constant striving for freedom and self-realization as a social constraint. According to Han, virtual self-marketing has become a form of self-exploitation and, in the process, the “disciplinary society” that philosopher Michel Foucault described in 1975 has transitioned into a “society of self-discipline.” In this system, an individual’s opponent is no longer “the other,” but the individuals themselves have transformed into their own enemies.
The problem today is not the other but the self thus gathers six artists of different generations whose works reflect the themes of freedom, powerlessness, and neoliberalism. Andy Coolquitt creates expansive installations of found materials and objects, which he calls “somebody-mades” and “in-betweens.” He arranges these mostly discarded and forgotten objects in site-specific compositions that redefine spaces and pathways. The works of Doug Ashford combine painterly abstraction with political intention in a constant search for the origins of empathy. His video Untitled Film (2013) shows – in slow motion – pornographic scenes where the explicit material is overlaid with fields of color. The wall works Madison Street, Jefferson Ave, and Halsey Street (2013) by Lena Henke are casts of facade structures from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Her works reflect urban development concepts, urban design, and “third places” as snapshots of a time when self-initiative and self-responsibility embodied hope for a better future.
The artist Andy Coolquitt and the artist duo James Gregory Atkinson & Helen Demisch will contribute new site-specific works for this exhibition.
James Gregory Atkinson & Helen Demisch
(born in 1981, Bad Nauheim) lives in New York &
(born in 1982, Fischbachau) lives in Frankfurt am Main
(born in 1958, Rabat) lives in New York
(born in 1964, Texas) lives in Austin and Portland
(born in 1982, Priština) lives in Munich and Vienna
(born in 1982, Warburg) lives in New York
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