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Goshka Macuga & Ahmet Öğüt Episode 2

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To create future it’s often necessary to eradicate the past.

Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer—and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.
– Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism, 1964

The lust for aggression and destruction is certainly included; the innumerable cruelties of history and daily life confirm its prevalence and strength. The stimulation of these destructive impulses by appeals to idealism and the erotic instinct naturally facilitates their release. Musing on the atrocities recorded on history’s page, we feel that the ideal motive has often served as a camouflage for the lust of destruction; sometimes, as with the cruelties of the Inquisition, it seems that, while the ideal motives occupied the foreground of consciousness, they drew their strength from the destructive instincts submerged in the unconscious. Both interpretations are feasible.
Why War? An exchange of letters between Freud and Einstein, 1933

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.
– Martin Luther King

Destruction for social critique but also anarchic, pointless destruction; destruction for the pure pleasure of it.
– Russell Ferguson, ‘The Show is Over’ in Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950, 2013

The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!
– Mikhail Bakunin

The destructive character is young and cheerful. For destroying rejuvenates in clearing away the traces of our own age; it cheers because everything cleared away means to destroyer a complete reduction, indeed eradication, of his own condition. But what contributes most of all to this Apollonian image of the destroyer is the realization of how immensely the world is simplified when tested for its worthiness of destruction. This is the great bond embracing and unifying all that exists. It is a sight that affords the destructive character a spectacle of deepest harmony.
– Walter Benjamin, Destructive Character, 1931

Each visible fact absolutely expresses its reality.
Certain machine produced forms are the most perfect forms of our period.
In the evenings some of the finest works of art produced now are dumped on the streets of Soho.
Auto creative art is art of change, growth movement.
Auto-destructive art and auto creative art aim at the integration of art with the advances of science and technology. The immediate objective is the creation, with the aid of computers, of works of art whose movements are programmed and include "self-regulation". The spectator, by means of electronic devices can have a direct bearing on the action of these works.
Auto-destructive art is an attack on capitalist values and the drive to nuclear annihilation.
– Gustav Metzger, Auto-Destructive Art Machine Art Auto-Creative Art, 1961

The truth of the matter, as Marx sees it, is that everything that bourgeois society builds is built to be torn down. “All that is solid” – from the clothes on our backs to the looms and mills that weave them, to the men and women who work the machines, to the houses and neighborhoods the workers live in, to the firms and corporations that exploit the workers, to the towns and cities and whole regions and even nations that embrace them all – all these are made to be broken tomorrow, smashed or shredded or pulverized or dissolved, so they can be recycled or replaced next week, and the whole process can go on again and again, hopefully forever, in ever more profitable forms. The pathos of all bourgeois monuments is that their material strength and solidity actually count for nothing and carry no weight at all, that they are blown away like frail reeds by the very forces of capitalist development that they celebrate. Even the most beautiful and impressive bourgeois buildings and public works are disposable, capitalized for fast depreciation and planned to be obsolete, closer in their social functions to tents and encampments than to "Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, Gothic cathedrals”.
– Marshall Berman, All that is Solid melts into Air, 1982

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James B., when his careless son happened to break a square of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact, that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation — "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?" [...]
– Frédéric Bastiat, The Broken Window, 1850

A changing list of links and thoughts from Goshka Macuga towards Episode 2: The Show is Over*

Öğüt & Macuga

This exhibition is the result of Witte de With director Defne Ayas’ pairing of two critically engaged artists, Goshka Macuga and Ahmet Öğüt. Both artists’ interests are tied to political and historical contexts, distilled through a variety of media and strategies of representation that include performance, participatory event, sculpture, film, and installation.

Macuga and Öğüt began a conversation, and through a series of coincidences identified parallel references drawn from their shared social concerns, personal stories, and the ideas driving their respective practices, such as their mutual investment in collaboration and interest in the representation of critical thinkers in the global imaginary. Such references mark the point of departure for a two-part exhibition – the first steered by Ahmet Öğüt (17 June – 20 August), with the second part to follow in Fall with Goshka Macuga (8 September – 31 December). Both artists examine each other’s practices, a process subject to misinformation and misunderstandings along the way, as much as a generosity of ideas, commitment of time, and peer-to-peer play.

Early on in their exchange, Macuga proposed to take up the notions of destruction and ‘sudden change’ to be played out upon the pair’s work using the exhibition space as test-site, as a means to explore processes of reconstruction. With The Show is Over, Macuga sets out to question how far destruction can work to critique, protest, and confront the present cultural predicament and builds on a rich heritage of artists that have engaged with the gesture of destruction both as subject, concept, and process over the years. In the face of the recent surge of culture wars as well as right-wing agendas that have come to dominate the political landscape, what can be gained by enlisting destruction for social critique but also anarchic, pointless destruction; destruction for the pure pleasure of it? - as posed by Russell Ferguson in his paper The Show is Over (2014), after which the exhibition is named. Further, how far may destruction be invoked to challenge the perceived stability of art and its institutions through transformative processes of shattering, hijacking, and undoing in order to engage in reinvention? In such an exercise, the pair’s work and working relationship is challenged, manifested as, and through, a gesture of drastic change.

Exhibition Concept: Defne Ayas
Team: Defne Ayas, Samuel Saelemakers, Rosa de Graaf

Participants

Curators

Supported By

Adam Mickiewicz Institute

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