Exhibition

12 May–22 July 2018

First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger

Opening: 12 May 2018, 17.00

  • Doug Ashford, _Bunker 2, 2017, video still, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam

  • Doug Ashford, Six Moments in 1967 and Some of its Bodies, 2010–2011, exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. photo: Tom Janssen

  • Doug Ashford, Nocturne. Oslo, Norway, July 22 2011, 2017, exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018, photo: Tom Janssen

  • Liz Magic Laser, Primal Speech, 2016, exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018, photo: Tom Janssen

  • Tala Madani, Oven III, 2018, exhibition First Person Plural: Empahty, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018, photo: Peter Cox

The group exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger inquires into the emotional infrastructures of the present. What roles do emotions and affects play in forming collectivities and political belonging? What kind of “we’s” do empathy, intimacy, irony, and anger assemble, and how do they determine which “first person plurals” someone is part of? And where does the affective power of art stand in these processes?

The exhibition considers these questions along contemporary political, economic, technological, and social challenges—including the alarming surfacing of fascisms in public life. Pondering the emotional as an organizing force across political spectrums, emotions are understood not as individual mental states but as collective material and affective practices that are both shaped by and shape social life. The works in the exhibition challenge the familiar, divisive narratives of a “we,” such as the nation and the so-called “refugee crisis,” and allude to emotions as entry points for manipulation.

The exhibition features works by artists Doug Ashford, Sven Augustijnen, Tala Madani, Liz Magic Laser, Eva and Franco Mattes, Otobong Nkanga, and Sarah Vanhee, as well as a library space conceived by 2017/2018 BAK Fellow Sepake Angiama. Titled We Summon Here All Beings Present, Past & Future, this space features books, films, audio pieces, and posters, as well as a series of public workshops to activate them.

Public Program

The exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger also provides a framework for two performative conferences within BAK’s long-term series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020):

Propositions #5: First Person Plural takes place on 19 May 2018 as part of Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, and is dedicated to the many legacies of 1968 as they continue 50 years later. It features contributions by 2017/2018 BAK Fellows Sepake Angiama, Luigi Coppola, Quinsy Gario, Ola Hassanain, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Otobong Nkanga, as well as Charl Landvreugd and Marinella Senatore, among others.

Propositions #6: The Temporary Institute for the Contemporary, organized at BAK on 30 June 2018, enacts a temporary “institute of the contemporary” as the culmination of the first year of BAK’s Fellowship Program. 2017/2018 BAK Fellows Sepake Angiama, Isshaq Al-Barbary and Diego Segatto (Campus in Camps), Matthijs de Bruijne, Luigi Coppola, Quinsy Gario, Ola Hassanain, Otobong Nkanga, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Pelin Tan present their respective research itineraries as well as their “collective dictionary” project.

21 June 2018: Film Screening The Making of Justice (2017) & Artist Talk

5 July 2018: Film Screening Spectres (2011) & Artist Talk

The exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger is curated by BAK Curator Matteo Lucchetti and conceptualized by the BAK artistic team as part of the series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living.

The realization of this project has been made possible through financial contributions by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the City Council, Utrecht.

BAK’s main partner in the field of education and research is HKU University of the Arts Utrecht.

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