press release

works by Loretta Fahrenholz, Anne Jud, Klara Lidén, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Philipp Timischl, Amalia Ulman
17.08.2019 - 06.10.2019

Opening Reception: Friday 16 August, 6pm

Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine the pull with which social media tempt us to stage ourselves and our lives as a performance. An obvious desire to be validated and the subtle pressure to be visible and recognised bring to light quite astonishing acting talent. In an environment which resembles a continuous application situation, presenting the Self has become increasingly rare; instead, masks are being staged. This dramatization of life, the presentation of the ostensible Self in roles, has become the norm. We may deplore this as a loss of authentic personality, but it can also be seen as an intelligent dramatization of life. Instead of unthinkingly remaining within the confines of presumed authenticity, we become, as stage directors of our Selves, more in control of our own estrangement and alienation. The dramatization of everyday life, with that strange entity we call “self” in the leading role, is not a new phenomenon, even if the technological possibilities of the Internet have provided it with previously undreamt-of platforms.

As early as 1959, the sociologist Erving Goffman (1922–1982) examined everyday roleplay by means of theatrical metaphors in his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. He noted that individuals, when presenting themselves to others, are interested in controlling the impression those other people have of them. What is presented on stage is simulated. What is presented in life is real but most likely insufficiently tested. And so to Goffman it is similarly a question of who commands the performance.

Phrased slightly differently, it could be said that, when everyday life asserts itself as a stage, it may be smarter to present a false self, rather than naïvely subject oneself to the gaze of the audience.

Artists are inevitably concerned with the effect they have on audiences; some make their own performance part of their practice. The presence of an artist – be it through artistic work, on Instagram, in an interview or at an exhibition opening – creates a certain image and forges a reputation. It isn’t easy to determine the “appropriate” distance to oneself.

The exhibition Letzte Lockerung presents works in which different modes of performance manifest themselves and the artists assume, or have others assume, various roles and characters. It is role play by means of which the expectations toward presenting oneself and relating to the audience are exaggerated or subverted. The works show acts of amusing self-empowerment but also the demands artists are confronted with as subjects.