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Curators: Lisette Smits and Dan Kidner
Artists: Alighiero e Boetti, Nairy Baghramian, Gillian Carnegie, Stephan Dillemuth, Chris Evans, Claire Fontaine, Melanie Gilligan, Karl Holmqvist, Anja Kirschner and David Panos, Lee Lozano, Alan Michael, Melvin Moti, Seth Price, Jim Shaw, Barbara Visser, Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan
Depression is the title for an international group exhibition presented in the context of the Marres program, which in the coming years will reflect on the 20th century and the idea of avant-garde. A way to describe the past century is to typify it as the era in which man was transformed from the civilian into the consumer.
One could argue that depression is ultimately a 20th century characteristic. It certainly is a lens through which philosophers, sociologists, economists, historians and artists have seen the century – a century marked by the heyday of modern art, the institution and disintegration of several waves of avant-garde activity, economic boom and bust, countless wars and social trauma, the final collapse of international communism and the unassailable spread of various forms of free-market and state capitalism.
Examining the pathology of capitalism – consumerist excess and the fiction of economic speculation – is central to Depression. The intrinsic relation of art to capitalism is another point of reflection. After the positivistic posturing of many recent group shows and biennials, which attempted to revive art’s critical potential carried out after a hurried consensus about the failure of the modernist project, Depression is an antidote of sorts.
Depression does not try to diagnose the cause of our current cultural malaise and economic crisis. It simply addresses the p;lsquo;dark side’ of progression, individualism and capitalist expansion. The exhibition brings together works that propose a reading of depression, both in its psychological and economic form. Although not the impetus for the exhibition, the current global financial crisis proves a timely backdrop to the exhibition’s title.
Depression at once conjures a mood, delineates a period and perhaps even suggests an aesthetic, but isn’t prescriptive. It is understood as inherently dysfunctional, since it can’t be expected to hold one meaning. However, there are a number of distinct themes that emerge from the exhibition: the fate of the 20th century avant-gardes, cultural representations of economic systems and financial crises, the mourning of social systems and political movements, and personal and collective loss.
Parallel to the exhibition there is a Depression Lecture by Brian Dillon covering his latest publication Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives and the Depression Films in cooperation with filmtheatre Lumière.