press release

Under a vast grey sky, on a vast and dusty plain without paths, without grass, without a nettle or a thistle, I met several men bent double as they walked. Each one of them carried on his back an enormous Chimera as heavy as a sack of flour or coal or the paraphernalia of a Roman infantrymen. (...) I questioned one of those men and asked him where they were going like that. He replied that he did not know and that none of them knew, but that they were evidently going somewhere since they were driven by an invincible need to go on.

Charles Baudelaire, “To Each His Own Chimera”, Paris Spleen (1869)

There’s nothing new in stating that the postmodern canon has appropriated most nihilist premises, by means of a radical criticism of meaning, and of the hope for the individual’s autonomy in the age of spectacle and sham. Some critics have called postmodernity “a world of un-creation, without hope, faith nor love”.

Nevertheless, from the perspective of our attitude towards nihilism, reality is quite something else. After more than 30 years of postmodern consensus within high culture, the idea of the absurdity of life has become prey to irony. In the context of this muffled version of existentialism, the belief of the meaning of life is one of the many beliefs that are not very elegant to sustain in public –the result of such a blasé attitude is a similar discontent with the opposite opinion, which is often blamed for setting unacceptable limits on the “interpretative horizon”.

Parallel to this ironic deactivation, the ubiquity of capitalism and its triumphalism has placed in doubt the practical viability of an active nihilism that could transform daily life. In this case, deactivation caused by conformism.

What is the position of contemporary art in such a schizophrenic situation? Does the issue of nihilism remain as an urgent question, and what’s left of its power of emancipation? Fuck you human gathers various works dealing with the absurdity of existence as central point of reflection, whether posed as the criticism of the integrity of the individual and his desires to transcend, by insisting in its quality of being finite or by the arbitrariness of our experience in the world. Perhaps the mute resistance to offer a solution to the questions posed hides the reason for our resigned yet “unbeatable need to go on”.

1 Roger Scruton, “Upon Nothing” in The Aesthetic Understanding, 2nd Ed. (1998)

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Künstler: Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Heike Bollig, Ruben Grilo, Light Centre , Fiona Mackay, Tony Matelli, Wilfredo Prieto, David Shrigley, Jack Strange