Forming communities: Berliner Wege – 道法柏林,而游于外

28 August 2022 – 5 February 2023

Opening: Saturday, 27 August 2022
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Panoptism – The French thinker Michel Foucault introduced this term to describe his idea of power, a kind of power that is not exercised by a central repressive authority. Rather, we have internalized it via institutions, laws, regulations, general social norms on “what one should do” and “what one shouldn’t do”, etc. – and this to an extent that ultimately there is no longer any need for a central authority to regulate us. We ourselves have become our own instrument of repression.

What interests me about the work “YES” is that it evokes ambiguous thoughts and feelings, but ultimately leaves us in the dark as to what it actually is or wants from us. When we enter the exhibition, we are irritated. This white box stands in our way, right at the entrance, like a lock: Is this a work of art that I am not allowed to touch or enter, as usual in a museum? Or a security check? Should I go through it? Maybe I even have to! Suddenly a voice appears, loud and emphatic it says “YES”. But yes to what? To go through, to go around? Or to me in general, as a person? I go on. Look at the exhibition. And only gradually, with the passing of time, I realize: the voice coming from the object is not interested in me at all. It follows its own tact. Its own cold logic, which is not the one of the individual.

The work “YES”, as it can now be seen in “Forming Communities”, was created especially for the exhibition and in close dialogue with the curators, whose concern is to subtly stimulate reflection on political and social issues in China; as well over here in Germany.

Personally, while working on “YES”, I always had Kafka’s gatekeeper parable in the back of my mind. This story in which a man, who seeks for justice, stands in front of the gate of law and waits. Eventually, he is old, about to die. With his last breath, he asks why he was never let in. The gate keeper replies: Well, you never tried to go through!