Artistic production and matters of class
September 12 – November 22, 2020
Exhibition with Angharad Williams, Annette Wehrmann, Gili Tal, Guillaume Maraud, Josef Kramhöller, Laura Ziegler and Stephan Janitzky, Lise Soskolne, Matt Hilvers, Stephen Willats
Film program with Adrian Paci, Agnès Varda, Ayo Akingbade, Barbara Kopple, Berwick St Collective, Laura Poitras and Linda Goode Bryant, Max Göran; Lucrecia Martel selected by Nadja Abt; and films selected by Simon Lässig
Accompanying program with Cana Bilir-Meier and Gürsoy Doğtaş, NewFutures, Periods of Non-Productivity, Ramaya Tegegne, Tirdad Zolghadr
Publication with contributions by Annette Wehrmann, Dung Tien Thi Phuong, Josef Kramhöller, Laura Ziegler and Stephan Janitzky, Leander Scholz, Lise Soskolne, Mahan Moalemi, Marina Vishmidt and Melanie Gilligan, Steven Warwick
This fall, Kunstverein München presents Not Working – Artistic production and matters of class, a project that brings together international artists, theorists, and writers who in their work examine the interdependence of artistic production and social class. Every form, including the artistic, is ground for the negotiation of class relations. A formal language always surpasses the formal: it can be read in relation to privilege and economic contexts that can inscribe and ultimately permeate materials, thematic concerns, and modes of (re-)presentation.
The complex structures and substantial rise of social inequalities—particularly visible in light of the current pandemic—have given the concept of class a wide range of connotations. In sociological terms, class can be understood as the ascription of individuals to specific social groupings, which are characterized by objective elements such as income. Beyond the pure economics, the concept also has symbolic significance. When speaking of class today, it is usually in reference to its historically white and predominantly male constitution. But what has become apparent is that categories of “race” and “gender” are deeply inherent to concepts of class. In fact, these aspects are the determining elements of class relations.
What forms do artistic practices assume, and what do they tell us about the conditions of their production? The works on view are characterized by a consciousness of how background, socialization, education, and artistic practice are inevitably entangled. They hence allow for a consideration of these categories in relation to the actual lived realities of their producers. However, given the distinctions that do exist, why does contemporary art, in many cases, continue to be presented against the backdrop of supposed “class homogeneity;” remaining complicit in the reproduction and masking of existing conditions which it often claims to overcome. The term “class” is strikingly absent in discourses that assert political relevance and critical potential. When it does become the subject, the economic disparities and inequalities are too often clumsily reproduced in the same context. The title Not Working addresses the often glorified precarity inherent to the notion of artists as social figures, and the cliché that economic regulations do not apply to their form of work. Moreover, the title outlines the dysfunctional system, which is built on the fundamental precarization of most of its producers.
Like other art associations, Kunstverein München was established as a member-based institution in the early nineteenth century, initially serving as a cultural forum for the emergent bourgeoisie. Consequently, it was not only a space for the presentation of art, but a place for the formation of a “society of taste.” Kunstverein München also forms part of one of Germany’s most expensive urban contexts defined by enormously high living costs resulting in a cityscape increasingly unable to provide an environment conducive to cultural production. This context makes the Kunstverein a destined place to discuss the entanglements of economics, representation and the production of art. After all, Kunstvereine, as institutions, are a rich resource of historical information on the motivations of their protagonists, and how these motivations are governed by a bourgeois conception of art, supposedly autonomous of social factors, including social class. The exhibition—along with its comprehensive film and accompanying program and publication—aims to reflect upon how social class affects artistic production, and thus to encourage debate about these interdependent subjects.
PROGRAM OF EVENTS
Due to the current situation, we kindly ask you to register for each event via firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 12, 9pm
Films selected by Simon Lässig
September 22, 9pm
Harlan County, USA by Barbara Kopple
September 23, 7pm
by Tirdad Zolghadr
October 4, 5pm
Der Palast ist nicht ganz dicht – A tragic music and puppet play
October 6, 9pm
Nightcleaners by Berwick St Collective
October 13, 7pm
Reading and Conversation
with Cana Bilir-Meier and Gürsoy Doğtaş
October 18, 12–6pm
Periods of Non-Productivity. A Reader as Performance and Education
October 20, 9pm
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse by Agnès Varda
October 31, 3–5pm
Presentation and Discussion
with Ramaya Tegegne
November 3, 9pm
filming dad’s ass while he’s chopping logs with his chainsaw by Max Göran
November 5, 7pm
November 17, 9pm
La Ciénaga by Lucrecia Martel, selected and presented by Nadja Abt
November 21, 9pm
STREET 66 by Ayo Akingbade &
Flag Wars by Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras
Initiated by Maurin Dietrich
Curated by Maurin Dietrich and Gloria Hasnay
The book Not Working – Reader is published by Kunstverein München e.V. and Archive Books.
Img. 1: Josef Kramhöller, from the series Untitled (Fingerprint), 1995. Courtesy Kienzle Art Foundation, Berlin.
Img. 2: Annette Wehrmann, from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991–95. Courtesy Ort des Gegen e.V. and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
The project is funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes.