Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty
I do not know whether … the critical task still entails faith in Enlightenment; I continue to think that this task requires work on our limits, that is, a patient labor giving form to our impatience for liberty.
Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?”
In introducing the exhibition Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty, the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart is once again circling around the complex relations and conflictual situations between art and politics, art and life, art and society.
The exhibition’s point of origin rests in the younger forms and discourses of a (re)politicization of the arts, which are meant to be probed in terms of their heterogeneity and antagonisms. These are artistic practices which subject the aesthetic utopias of modernism that were said to have floundered to both a critical reading and a reevaluation, and which—reaching beyond a naïve euphoria or worldly-wise distance—renegotiate the political, societal, and critical potentialities of art. Activist positions and artworks with concrete political points of reference are considered here, as are works that approach, on a rather structural level, a rereading, realignment, and relocalization of knowledge, power, ideology, space, and the body. The works not only reference, but actually create acts of political articulation and subjectivization.
With regard to content, the exhibition focuses on developments from the capitalist disciplinary society to the neoliberal society of control. It reflects the latter’s discourses of efficiency and creativity, its spatial and biopolitics. Using artistic means that extend from diverse graphical techniques to choreographies for dancing, the works explore private spaces, urban spaces, and working spaces.
The exhibition hones in on a range of different artistic practices and methods that are posited between the visual and the performing arts. Methods of rereading and reenactment are granted special attention here: reaching from the reconstruction of a Spanish torture chamber, which had been designed after the model of artists like Kandinsky, Klee, or Itten in order to irritate the inmate’s perception (Romero), to the reenactment of a press conference where the three “generals” of the State Museums of Berlin, Dresden, and Munich announced their collaboration in a project that was planed to conceive a universal museum for Dubai (Creischer, von Borries, Siekmann).
At the same time, with a view to contemporary art, the potentials of central methods and practices of the modern avant-gardes are explored, including editing, montage, and collage, as well as the situationist detournement (of reallocation) and dérive (of digression).
Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty is part of the exhibition and event series Politics of Form supported by the European Commission and developed by the Wiener Festwochen, the Württembergischer Kunstverein, and the Bergen Assembly. In projects that have been initiated both independently and in collaboration, each of the three locations takes a different approach to pursuing the political implications and possibilities related to art. Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty (curated by Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ) presents the third exhibition in this series, preceded by Unrest of Form: Imagining the Political Subject in Vienna (curators: Karl Baratta, Stefanie Carp, Matthias Pees, Hedwig Saxenhuber, and Georg Schöllhammer) and Monday Begins on Saturday in Bergen (curators: Ekaterina Degot and David Riff).