Shades of Today, Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth, Centrum, Berlin

48 Hours Neukölln: Sat / Sun, 24 + 25 June, 3-7pm
Exhibition opening: Friday, 30 June, 7pm

with a performance by Kirstin Burckhardt, 8pm

The concept of distorted representations and perceptions of reality may date as far back as Plato’s allegory of the cave. However, in light of Brexit and Trump’s election, the manipulation of information seems to have reached new heights (Oxford Dictionaries dubbed ‘post-truth’ as 2016’s word of the year). Amidst the confusion between true facts and fake news, heightened by 24-hour news cycles, social media and a populist rhetoric, artists play a pivotal role in warning and reminding of reality’s different shades and how they can be exploited by those in power. For Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth, Centrum have invited ten artists to shed light on this issue through a series of sound, scent, text-based, and video installations, and a suite of events.

During this year’s 48 Hours Neukölln festival, Centrum will present a prelude to the exhibition Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth through a series of video and audio works and a light box installation: In Game Call (2017) Hana Sackler combines artificial and recorded everyday sounds with diverse video sequences that shift and gradually intensify in rhythm and quantity of audio and visual stimuli, creating an environment overloaded with contradictory information which emulates our media-saturated way of life. Stefano Miraglia’s experimental film Anoche (2017) was produced in the UK in direct response to the Brexit vote, evoking the ancient myth of the Minotaur and the sensation of disorientation and anguish – ‘When Rome is dust the Minotaur will moan, once more in the endless dark of its rank palace’ (Jorge Luis Borges). In Martin Cries (2017) Jonathan Vinel confronts viewers with the emotional impact of loss, alienation, sadness, rage, and violence within a virtual game, questioning the authenticity of our closeness not only to each other but also to ourselves. Kirstin Burckhardt’s sound piece Imagination is a Powerful Tool (2016) is a fictitious ‘Ted Talk’ that draws attention to the fine line between experiencing and imagining and brings perceptions of truth and reality into play. Max Grau’s ‘kinda sorta manifesto’ reclaim your fucked up-ness… maybe (2016) talks about staying in bed a lot, the precarious state of self-employment and ‘how you should have sips of champagne in bed, even when you are alone’. In his confessional audio work Grau reflects on the dissonance many a creative freelancer experiences today, between creating and maintaining a successful virtual persona while being in denial about the absurdity and difficulties faced in real life. 2+2=5 (2016) is the title of a project by Jae Kyung Kim featuring a light box, which shows collages of photos downloaded from Google Street View in which houses have been partially blurred due to Germany’s privacy policy and attempt to legally regulate the US-American technology company’s collection and use of geographic image data.

The group exhibition Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth will open on the 30th of June with a performance by Kirstin Burckhardt: Grow a Body (2017) centres around a rhythmic, pulsating reading of a text which poses the question: When is your body complete? This question is echoed in the feeling of some people who disidentify so strongly with a ligament that they self-amputate (‘Body Integrity Identity Disorder’). In the performance, this feeling is carefully embedded within the sensation of completely dissociating from your body when in a traumatic situation, raising questions about subjective and alternative truths, the relationship between alienation and violence, and the prevalence of emotion over reason – questions considered to be at the core of our post-truth era. Included in the exhibition will be Archaeology of a Smell (2008), a scent installation by Erkan Öznur which uses ‘Wofasept’, a cleaning liquid produced by a former GDR company which until today was primarily used in the former East. The persistent smell makes the city’s former division apparent today. As an alternative to the iconic Berlin wall Archaeology of a Smell offers a symbol for the reality of the slow, on-going process of reunification. Martin John Callanan’s Wars During My Lifetime (1982-2013) is a newspaper that lists all of the wars fought during the artist’s lifetime (up until 2013). Listed without comment, the newspaper acts as a potent reminder of media bias and sensationalisation. With her sound sculpture Ram-tam-tam! Rat-a-tat-tat! (2014), Emma Waltraud Howes utilises a resonating cast iron pot as a symbol of resistance, both acknowledging historical protests by recalling the ‘Cacerolazo’, a cacophony of banging pots and pans, while humorously evoking the feeling of help- and speechlessness in the face of recent political developments and the impossibility and lack of rational debate. In a similarly ironic gesture Benedikt Partenheimer’s Business As Usual (2016) draws attention to one of the most debated yet controversial topics in politics: pollution and climate change. Printouts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change line the wall and act as backdrop to a dramatic photograph of an urban landscape concealed by smog. Covering the factual information on climate change, the picture itself fails to serve as photographic evidence with the pollution having rendered the photograph illegible. As part of the exhibition Jae Kyung Kim will show a set of three stereoscopes showing pictures of houses blurred on Google Street View related to her project 2+2=5 (2016) in which the artist explores questions of privacy, transparency, visibility and social control, and also speculates about the effect the blurred images have on our collective imagination, emphasising that it relies on what we think we know and what we imagine we see.

To support and expand on the exhibition in Centrum’s physical space, our Tumblr is a virtual space to further develop and explore notions of post-truth and for six weeks we will post starting points for further research here. The material will be grouped into themes and will show how people, including artists and thinkers, are experiencing the world right now and communicating their most pressing concerns. The themes will include the subjectivity inherent Information Systems, Alternative RealitiesProtest, Sensory Experience, and acute insights into How we Live Now.

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