Curator: Borbála Soós
Artists: Can Altay, Andy Holden, Nicoline van Harskamp, Gergely László (Tehnica Schweiz), Tamás Kaszás, Katarina Šević
This exhibition is part of the OFF Biennale Budapest
…I think the point is it is against the idea of linearity, of there being ‘progress’ necessarily, that certain things will reoccur, but I think of it as radical, utopian in its aim at connectivity and community, it is reacting against the complete absence of art and general apathy of Bedford, it just uses clichés to do this, to look at serious things… (Andy Holden: Maximum Irony Maximum Sincerity, 1999–2003: Towards a Unified Theory of M!MS, published by Zabludowicz Collection, 2014, p. 185.)
How can better communities for the future be built? In recent times, many once sincere words from our political vocabulary, helpful in this quest, have been emptied of their meaning and potential. Over time the use and misuse of concepts like communism, community, civil-society, participation, self-sustainability and ‘better future’ have resulted in the words’ corruption to such an extent that they have become almost unusable. How, then, can we go forward from here? We could, of course, abandon these words and invent new ones, but in so doing we risk losing the ideas – meekly tossing aside a long history of hard-fought struggles as a result.
Alternatively, this exhibition revisits these concepts through specific historical accounts, with a view to open out, shuffle, diversify and potentially even strengthen a new resilience in shaping thought and social experience today. Instead of forming new terms, the show will help to reclaim and push forward certain attitudes from our history.
The works by each of the artists are the result of major research projects, and take various historical movements over the past century as their starting point. By looking at these case studies carefully and in detail – either through a building (or land) and the community it used to belong to; or a group of people who were in many ways connected to each other through shared ideas and concepts – the projects offer valuable strategies to take away. For one reason or another, each of these communities have changed since, and the past movements have been abandoned, yet their struggles remain somehow relevant and present in our collective memory. The works step away from the few usual utopian suspects – the well-known and heralded – the used and many times repurposed motifs, and instead often draw on personal anecdotes and intimate moments of history.
The multiple voices within the exhibition reflect on stories about communities that are formed through shared attitudes and aspirations. Sharing these accounts of various modernist utopian, avant-garde, Marxist, anarchist, or even naive teenage strategies provides an opportunity to transfer their energies into contemporary structures of thought.
Building a community is bound to be a continuous work of negotiation, a collective struggle, and a wager for time that is shared.
The title of the exhibition is an artwork by Can Altay, who proposed “the work being a title, a sequence of words, rather than having a physical presence”.