Freedom will have been an episode
March – September, 2020
Venue: Austrian Cultural Forum New York
Featured artists include:
Günter Brus, Josef Wurm, Evamaria Schaller, zweintopf, studio ASYNCHROME
Curated by Roman Grabner
In the 1960s, when Günter Brus co-founded the seminal avant-garde art movement Viennese Actionism and challenged Austrian society with his taboo-breaking, freedom was considered a precious commodity that had to be defended against any form of restriction. In the last decades, these hard-won freedoms have been increasingly undermined by the economy of hedonism and the efficiency of neo-liberalism. People are no longer disciplined by force and violence but are galvanized into self-optimization. This “technology of the self,” in the words of Michel Foucault, is nothing but an efficient form of domination and exploitation. Freedom has become a form of coercion, argues philosopher Byung-Chul Han, from whose book Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power (2017) the title of this exhibition derives.
Society and art have changed considerably in the decades since Brus started his “actions.” For this show, curator Roman Grabner contrasts Brus’ works with new artistic voices from Austria that challenge the norm and explore what it means today to break free from convention and defy the system, to be a foreign body in society and to analyze its power structures.
studio ASYNCHROME are constantly engaged with the individual in an era of social upheaval. Their work for New York After Closer Inspection, We Decide … is influenced by Michel Foucault’s work on developing means to describe the mechanisms and structures in power within the social body, studio ASYNCHROME observe and reflect on the present socio-political situation in their drawings based on the algorithms of manipulation.
In his curatorial statement, Roman Grabner sums up the premise of the show: “If the media are corrupted by the economy, if critical thought is equated with corrosive conduct and if political engagement no longer takes place because it is incompatible with social media, then we are heading towards the brave new world and freedom will indeed have been an episode.”
Presented in cooperation with Neue Galerie Graz / BRUSEUM, Universalmuseum Joanneum. Supported by Land Steiermark, smartfilmplus and STABILO.
Virtual Gallery Tour made by Austrian Cultural Forum NYC
Video of the transparent / opaque situations of the drawing installation: