MAYBES Disturbing Possibilities
With Maybes we wanted to start from the experience of disturbance and its potential as a moment where previous certainties shift, and we can speculate on other possibilities. We invited artists Valentina Desideri, Rachel Koolen and Elizabeth Skadden to consider such “maybes” through disturbance as both intimate, bodily, and socially shaped, and asked humorist Christian Gottschalk to develop a curatorial statement for the closing night.
We consider disturbance firstly as an emotional realization, as we are confronted with a sudden, unsettling intrusion that makes us feel the relationship of our personal lives to outside forces that shape their ground. Feeling disturbed is both the experience of an unsettling irritation in our lives, and at the same time that of being oneself disturbed, “mad.” This connection between our private, inner life, and our social circum- stances, is the basis for Valentina Desideri‘s series of conversation pieces, Political Therapy. This time she invites therapists to participate in one of her sessions, to not only look at what they, personally, consider a political problem, but also to reflect on the notion of therapy and the basis of her work here. While those sessions will be private, Valentina, and potentially participants, will discuss the questions of politics, therapy, professional practice and amateurism, at Glockengasse No9 on Saturday, 4 May.
The notion of the disturbing is also a moment, where the supposedly private, or even natural, and the public paradigm of a life defined in economic terms, reveal their intimate entanglement and simultaneous dissonance. Elizabeth Skadden‘s video Successrecreates this tension through interviews with a series of people who had started out having artistic pursuits, and now had what Skadden calls “conceptual” jobs encompassing elements of surveillance and data-gathering, which are arguably a direct product of a financialized, capitalist economy. The audio recordings of those interviews reflecting on how money exists in the realms of art and business, are juxtaposed with imagery and, at times, subtitles, that intervene in the topic from a slightly other angle, creating not a straightforward contrast, but an ambivalence and doubling, that also mirrors the question of interpretations of experience and conflict at the heart of our reflections.
Through a somatic approach Rachel Koolen has developed a friendly skeleton of works that she calls Over my dead body, which turn interfaces into tools for speculation. This body of work, composed of film, sculp- tures, stolen voices and a disturbing diagram takes its starting point in what Koolen describes as a disturbing memory of a physical site, one that has taken on the proportions of a grotesque corpse. Not trusting this memory, she revisited the site, now a territory emptied of events, in order to fertilize its ground and generate a series of inappropriate disturbing processes (appropriate to Glockengasse9).
As we worked together on Maybes, the role of interfaces has also taken on another dimension for us, partly through disconnected-headphone antagonistic moments when using defective software, disturbing fragmented conversations, but also in form of blogs to make the curatorial and artistic process transparent. This is why it became important to disturb our own lives and our work on the exhibition itself, leading us, the curators and the artists who run the gallery, to turn our living rooms into a disturbing home cinema for public screenings on 11 April. We wanted to mix up our own home settings, our intimate spaces and involvement in the economies for showing art, to test the intuition that throwing a spanner in the works would open up new possibilities. The moment of disturbance is also a potential moment to make the relationship of our individual experience and the wider world tangible, and to show what (else) could be.
While disturbances are commonly viewed as obstacles to becoming ourselves and to living our social role, we see them, from this vantage point, as a potential beginning.
Monika Vykoukal & Jens Strandberg