MAD AS HELL. Decades of Protest (Group show featuring Clément Cogitore, Anne-Lise Coste, Jeremiah Day, Ólafur Elíasson, Uwe Max Jensen, Thomas Locher, Josephine Meckseper, Mark Pearson, David Robbins, Julika Rudelius and Yuan Shun). 07.02.2020 – 13.03.2020

Press Release
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english / deutsch

The beginning of the 21st century was marked by rage, hate, fire and fury – civilizations clashing with each other and a disastrous war in Iraq. Ever since, we have been at war in conventional and unconventional ways, at home and abroad, in nations we didn’t previously have much direct interaction with, with people we didn’t know personally. Foreigners, strangers, aliens, immigrants entered other people’s comfort zones driven by poverty, ideology, by having nothing to lose. But also, with our country men – those living on a different economic planet – in a different economic reality than that of the majority of the population. In places where loss of jobs, identity and belonging due to automation and factory closures changed the atmosphere of neighborhoods and communities: War, wave, world, 2013 – 2019 (Yuan Shun).

Few corners of the world have been spared protests and revolts against some elements of the traditional world order in the belief that things can be different and have to change. The artists included in
MAD AS HELL. Decades of Protest take us on a tour of some of the major events firing up civil response to political and social issues, right from around the beginning of the 21st century. A series of photographs including Anti-Bush Demo, Berlin, 2001, and Berlin Demonstration, Fire, Cops, 2002, (Josephine Meckseper) record the massive opposition on both sides of the Atlantic to the Iraq and other wars. Growing general outrage over racism and police violence are addressed in groups of works such as Fuck la Police, 2004, SHIT, 2009, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, 2015 (Anne-Lise Coste) and Fuck Buttons, 1986 (David Robbins). Despair, pervasive depression and hopelessness due to lack of purpose and future perspectives among the young are the theme of I can't stand it any longer, LOST, and Oh oh les larmes (From Tristesse et Beauteì), 2005, Le deìsespoir, 2018 (Anne-Lise Coste). Sympathy for ever more immigrants and poorer poor dying while crossing hostile lands and seas in search for futures and jobs are expressed in Will I be saved?, 2007 (Anne-Lise Coste). Turning to the Middle East, so much deadly political dissent has raged there that some are calling it a second wave of the Arab Spring, moods and moments captured in videos like Tahrir, 2012, and photographs Ghost_horseman_of_the_apocalypse_in_Cairo, 2017 (Clément Cogitore). In our part of the world we all share the revulsion against fanatic Islamic terrorism illustrated in Camouflage Bomber, 2019 (Julika Rudelius).

In South America, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela have experienced violent popular unrest due to massive corruption, disastrous privatization of the social security system and ever widening gulfs between the haves and the have-nots.
Muchos sueños rotos pero nunca en vano ("Many broken dreams but never in vain"), 2005, says a graffiti reproduced by Jeremiah Day. Furious and appalled over financial inequity and the injustice of the world’s richest individuals owning as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population, the art janitors at Art Basel Miami protest against art lovers paying 120.000 $ for a banana taped to the wall by star artist Maurizio Cattelan, while they can’t survive on the low pays for their work. Indeed, consumerism and predatory capitalism is at an all-time high while salaries and benefits in the gig economy tumble. UNSERE BEHAUPTUNG IST, DASS DIESE IDENTIFIKATION DES GELDBESITZERS MIT DER GELDFUNKTION AUS DEN ALLEINIGEN GRÜNDEN DESSEN, WAS DAS GELD IST, DER URSPRUNGSAKT DER THEORETISCHEN SUBJEKTIVITÄT IST, 2006 (Thomas Locher). Meanwhile, 16-year olds propel climate change into the emergency bracket by demonstrating instead of going to school. While bushfires scorch the earth for months and wipes out hundreds of thousands of wildlife, America makes the most controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. Global Warning, 2013, (Ólafur Elíasson) and Carbon ist für immer, 2007, (Mark Pearson), BP (Pelican), and Contaminator, 2010, (Josephine Meckseper) are but few examples by of the rising number of artists addressing climate change and apocalyptic pollution in their work.

In Hong Kong, protests against an extradition bill and against creeping authoritarianism filled the streets for months with hundreds of thousands of people signalling their disapproval of regime efforts to reign in personal freedom. The internet and social media have provided the access to information and is shaping communication of information, both true and made up. Globalisation, and Big Tech totally changed the structure of the public sphere and has furthered loss of emotional and intellectual restraint through the anonymity enabled by social media. Taking to the streets show that people all over are mad as hell. 30 years ago, it changed the map, the wall between East and West Germany came down. Maybe it can happen again, somewhere else. Yeah, let’s change the map, 2007 (Anne-Lise Coste; text: Elisabeth Hauff.)

You are cordially invited to the exhibition opening with beer and wine on Friday, February 7th, 2020 from 7 to 10 pm.