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"Things We Don't Understand"
2000-01-28 until 2000-04-16
Generali Foundation
Vienna, , AT Austria

Eleanor Antin (USA), Ines Doujak (A), Harun Farocki (Ger), Peter Friedl (A), Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (USA), Nina Menkes (USA), Alice Ohneland (Ger), Alejandra Riera (F). Looking at contemporary art can frequently result in feelings of profound irritation. Baffling situations, disturbing people or bewildering things disrupt our ingrained habits and established world views. Yet, at the same time, no one wants to accept the notion that the world might consist of nothing other than convention. Art has the social function of representing this other to society. A bourgeois understanding of art conceives of this otherness as the freedom of art, while art as a critical practice sees it as a possible tool for rendering visible the excluded, repressed or unthinkable. In fact, neither the site of art, nor its contents or practices in and of themselves are free or critical. The meaning of art will always depend on the specific context in which artistic practices and audiences meet.

Is there a difference between aesthetic experience and the experiences of our daily life? The artists of this show use found objects, documentary photographs, conventional fictions, use objects and genres. None of them suppose these materials or their own means of expression to be neutral but, rather, saturated in power relations. Though their works diverge in form and content, all of the artists are interested in an aesthetic transformation of the everyday. They want to irritate. However, the intention is neither to cause misunderstanding or confusion for the observer; provoking a potentially traumatic experience. Irritation as an artistic procedure is meant to create a situation in which understanding itself is able to change. For this, we need things we donít understand.


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