Can You Feel It?
Can You Feel It? is an exhibition exploring staging and the staging of others through a variety of ap- proaches be it portraiture, theatricality, private reality, shape-shifting identities, and collective bodies. Some of the works make us ponder about our encouraged culture of spectacle wherein artists have confronted the absurd idea of placing high value on our image with enigma, irony and satire. In the Gaga-Abramović-Kimye age with performative, fabricated (and online) personalities is staging a source of empowerment or rather supporting problematic idolatry and creating oversized egos? Staging is looked at as an architectural, cultural and social space for identity searching. Featured are positions that relate closely to cultures of the night and DIY culture be it house and dance music ha- vens in New York City, homo-core punk movements in Los Angeles or campy “fake” pageantry con- tests in Toronto. Our exhibition space as a former illegal techno night club (called Insekt) fittingly acts as a site. We come to see reactionary stances and subversive strategies in the attempt to re-negotiate the politics of representation. The exhibition also lays bare the potentially seducing and the sometimes deviantly violent sides of styling. The power of styling is aptly described by art historian David Joselit: “Styling is the creature of fashion and consumerism not because it is inherently corrupt, but simply because consumerism requires creativity and perpetual change, and that is what styling does – it is dynamic rather than inert... Whether doing business, your hair, or a demonstration, whether doing a magazine or doing art, what matters is your styling.” (Source: Texte zur Kunst) Several positions undermine the authority of norms by confronting them with irony, self-reflexivity or an anti-glamour attitude (General Idea, Parr, Davis, Hodel). Others question the influence of technology on the self and self-care (Lembertaitė, Mousset, Higashino). A handful demonstrate a wish to masquer- ade with cryptic or apparent layers of personal narratives enmeshed within the work (Manon, Mousset, Wegman, Goldin). Some satisfy our voyeuristic desires and relate to identity linked with a performance for the camera (Goldin, Hodel, Manon). While various positions posit an openness towards others or receptivity towards the ideas behind the exhibition (Beck, Higashino, Nogle). The idea of gender re- lations spans throughout. And in questioning, curious and distanced ways a masculine presence is apparent in various of the works (Goldin, Dafflon, Nogle). The title of the show Can You Feel It? is a 1986 house track by Mr. Fingers which was a trailblazer for the deep house scene. The curators were marked by artist Luis Jacob’s commentary on this track: “In- trinsically, we are even ‚other‘ to ourselves! Look at our unconscious. Look, even, at the many ‚selves‘ we become throughout the course of our lives...The classic house songs are various theses about... togetherness and alienation, created by black and often gay musicians... That is the thesis of house: that house is not a thing, certainly it is not a building, but rather house is a joyous, interpersonal experi- ence.” (Source: Afterall) The Materials Section in the exhibition features video clips, zines, magazines, and publications ex- ploring the crossovers between the fashion industry and the art world and touches on topics such as publicity, the reproduction of luxury culture, being centre stage, style, trash elegance, icy eroticism, glamour, image-making as well the creative and musical legacies of the 70s, 80s and 90s. An example includes an issue of Avalanche Magazine (1970-1976) which features General Idea and William Weg- man. Other magazines presented are General Idea‘s FILE Megazine (1972–1989) and Made In USA (1999–2001) by the New York-based collaborative project Bernadette Corporation. Screened are vide- os such as Wu Tsang‘s Into a Space of Love (2019) the realist documentary (sponsored by Gucci and in collaboration with Frieze) exploring the legacies of house music. Projected are previously unshown photographs by Bruno Jakob of Jeff Koons and La Cicciolina with Gran Fury members at the Venice Biennale in 1990. On view is also the artist book Do You Love Me? (2012) by Lutz Bacher (1943-2019) which is a print extension of Bacher’s video work of the same name, in which she interviews colle- agues, friends and family about Bacher “the person” and Bacher “the artist”.