Artists:Daniel Berwanger, Hans Hemmert, Channa Horwitz, Christoph Keller, Wolf von Kries, Thomas Mahmoud, Erich Pick, Gunter Reski, Christoph Rothmeier, Ralf Schreiber, Simon Starke, Nasan Tur, Malte Urbschat, Klaus Weber, Suse Weber, Andrea Winkler and Piotr Żyliński
curated by Petra Reichensperger
Every theory, every investigation, every experiment commences with the choice of a system. This choice determines the playing field in which the individual conducting the experiment can operate, the nature of the questions that individual can pose and quite often, the sort of answers that may result. And in turn, the specific questions and answers expose the gaps in theory and practice.
It was the mid-1960s – a time of prevailing euphoria over cybernetics, system theory and systems of all kind. An artist by the name of Hans Haacke, known for systemic works such as the “Condensation Cube”, attempted to teach a myna bird to say “all systems go”. Although that species is known for its capacity to imitate sounds (some may recall Waldo from Twin Peaks), Haacke’s language lessons did not meet with success. Amused by the failure, the artist interpreted it as a sign that not all systems do, in fact, go.
Yet, whether or not the methods function, systems are sets: they bundle observations and experiences in an orderly constellation. The sociologist Dirk Baecker once put it thus: “Systems are the wall before which we play.” But they are also more than that. Value systems, classification systems, social systems, technological systems, as well as economic and political systems influence our own lived environments.
Many of these are not freely chosen. The question then arises as to how exactly one is to position oneself within a particular system. How can an individual who is part of a system effectively counter that system? What kind of role does art play in that? And to what extent do art and its institutional structures create a system of their own?