Helin Alas, Bik Van der Pol, Viltė Bražiūnaitė & Tomas Sinkevičius, Barbara Kapusta, Robert Keil, Judith Neunhäuserer, Nina Radelfahr
dissolving matter & value studies transitions from one (physical) state to another and the concomitant processes of appreciation, depreciation, and consumption. The focus is on the normative presuppositions and the social codes that separate the valuable from the valueless. Which interrelations between ecology and economy, between geo- and ego do they produce? What is staked in hopes of gaining what? What is at our disposal? What comes into being when value evanesces?
What caused the damage?*
We extract, accelerate, condense, consume, and feed newly generated substances, accumulating leftovers, and residues into our ecosystem. The abstract numbers that quantify vanishing forest areas, tons of CO2 released, rising water levels, or the decline of biodiversity represent more than just the cold rationality of unrestrained economic activity. Consumer behavior, a key prerequisite and driver of the narrative of economic growth, is fueled by desires, yearnings, and fears. We compensate and project individual and intersubjective states of affairs onto consumer objects. The flow of raw materials, the dirty operations in which they are mined, and the trajectories of their processing and refining, which are paved by cheap labor and toxic contamination, throb beneath the slick surfaces of industrial products. Similarly, the smooth faces of media self-projection pulse with the anxieties that beset the constructions of the subject, including the cognitive dissonance between our awareness of the negative repercussions of our actions and our failure to change our ways.
What is necessary?
As the artist and theorist Patricia Reed shows in her probing discussion of the concept of necessity, the latter’s foundations are predominantly relational and situational. People regard as necessary what social codes cast as such**. So what do we believe we need, and what do we use and consume to attain it?
What can we do without?
The positions in the exhibition are associated in very different ways in a positioning of value. They interrogate the worldviews and epistemic systems that structure our relation to the world or point up the nexus between symbolic capital, aesthetics, and the commodity form in a hyper-individualized present. The fluid and fluent, the equivocal and transitional form a varying leitmotif that appears throughout the presentation.
You feel like a global fluid*
The boundaries we draw between valueless and valuable grow blurry and permeable. The concept of dependency (with its negative connotations) takes on new importance, now in the sense of a reciprocal relationship that underlies our ecosystem as a core principle. Against it stands a narrative that remains potent in which the world and its physical resources are permanently “at our disposal.” How might we rethink the significance of value if the dominant linkage between value and economic prosperity and growth were broken?
* Barbara Kapusta, „The Leaking Bodies“, 2020
** Patricia Reed, „The valuation of necessity. On the fabrication of alethic necessity in systemsof ideology“ 2021
Curated by Lisa Britzger (exhibition) and
Christina Maria Ruederer (programming and publication)