Reset | Online Exhibition
May 21, 2020 - August 15, 2020
“In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.” Frank O’Hara
“Taking care of each other begins with understanding the differences.” Rebecca Solnit
Today we face a catastrophe, a tragic pandemic, which since its beginning in December 2019 has spread fast across the world. Mirroring the movements of global capitalism and tracing its injustices Covid-19 washes up the pre-existing structural and systematic inequalities in Western societies to its surface. “Coronavirus does not discriminate, because that’s what humans do,” writes the author Rebecca Solnit. Surely every human is vulnerable to the virus. However, how strong the virus affects our lives depends on our social and financial securities, as Solnit argues: “People who face racism, sexism and inequality are more likely to get sick.” The pandemic and its consequences on our usual activities seem uncanny and frightening. We all experience social isolation, but some of us have to deal with threats of their economic existence, domestic violence, and racial discrimination.
In every crisis there is also a chance for improvement. Right now, we all feel sensitive about what is happening around us, and have more time to look into our environments and rethink our standing in the world. The online exhibition Reset offers an opportunity for developing new perspectives on micro and macro levels concerning individual and collective prospects.
The pandemic affects the cultural sector enormously. All museums and galleries are closed, art fairs have been cancelled. Due to the lack of income for ticketing art institutions are facing a general existential threat—not to mention all freelancers in the creative industries. Fact is, nobody can predict the future of contemporary art world after the crisis, but it will change. To keep cultural production alive, as in all our current movements, it demands solidarity and imaginative thinking. The enforced quarantine gives art professionals enough time to reset and restructure the common practices of showing and experiencing art in digital formats.
By presenting works by over 20 artists Reset dives into most diverse artistic practices and topics of contemporary art. To name a few, the work Parish (2013) by Marnie Bettridge is probably the most intriguing in terms of reflecting on the current situation. Placing miniature houses on the edge of cliff-like sticks fixed on the wall, Bettridge’s work embodies our anxiety of losing the ground below our feet. The ceramics with the title I Always Wish my Stomach Was Small (2019) by Helen Juliet Atkins hint to the worrying prospects of increasing diseases caused by overweight such as diabetes, which first studies show will most likely increase during the pandemic due to lack of movement and calorie-heavy diet at home. Works such as Power Pumps and Super Spray (Weapons of the Anthropocene) (2019) by Jennifer Vasher are sculptures in somewhat abstract shape of a soap dispenser that can be read as both critical and ironic statement on the capitalist rituals of cleanliness, which now encounter an abnormal dominant presence in our daily lives. Chelsea Darter’s Dadsporch (2019) or Fawn’s Bed (2019) are photographic views into the inner of our homes that we might have become more familiar with than ever before. Pujan Shakupa contributed with photographs to the online presentation, which tackle curiosities in seemingly ordinary settings. Subsequent thereto, in Untitled (2020) Kristiane Kegelmann created objects made of steel and aluminum filled with organic substances such as elderflower or lavender questioning supposedly opposite qualities of materials such as stable and fluid, natural and artificial, or ephemeral and indestructible. Whereas in the works such as What does the Light Remember? (2020) Dan Hojnacki investigates the landscape surrounding Albuquerque on its historical and geological matter opening up new narratives.
A very special contribution to the exhibition is the loan from the Kuhn Collection of the work Unerwünschte Geschenke (Unwanted Gifts) by the already deceased artist Sigmar Polke from 2003. Referring to Roy Lichtenstein’s dots and the Pop Art movement, Polke once humorously declared: “I love all the dots. I am married to many dots. I want all dots to be happy. The dots are my brothers. I too am a dot. Back in the day, we all played together, but today, everyone goes their own way.” Today, Polke’s thoughts appear as a reminder to find our way back to togetherness.
What all participating artists have in common is their way of encouraging the viewer to take different paths, to find joy in abstract forms as well as in everyday expressions, and mostly to look at their environment in an unbiased and open mindset. To acknowledge that not everyone finds themselves in a privileged situation entails a positive change for future scenarios.
In addition to the online exhibition, birds + Richard organizes an online auction (C19 Auction). All profit from the auction goes into the food delivery service Sticky Fingers on Wheels that will invest into buying food from local businesses and farmers, and prepare dishes for the ones in need. Reset sends a strong message of solidarity and social activism bringing different population groups together. Feeling loneliness we experience the same distress as feeling hungry. Sticky Fingers on Wheels addresses both by delivering food and showing that everyone matters, and others care. Reset means to reconnect with family, friends, neighbors, local inhabitants, and internationally operating art professionals from different social and economic backgrounds.