1036 Budapest, Lajos utca 158.
10 July – 6 September 2020
Adelina Cimochowicz | Sári Ember | Barbora Kleinhamplová and Tereza Stejskalová | Katerina Konvalinová | Krisztián Kristóf | Virginia Lupu | Zsófia Szemző | Balázs Varju Tóth | Madalina Zaharia
9 July, 2020 6 pm
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Opening speech by:
The Budapest Gallery’s upcoming exhibition, So Far, So Good, which examines our everyday anxieties, the compulsion to be productive, burnout from overwork, and our reactions to all three, will open after a delay of almost three months. During the preparations for the exhibition, none of us reckoned with the possibility that, with the onset of a pandemic, these situations and feelings would become even more acute. As a result of the coronavirus, the hamster-wheel came to a halt for many people – suspending work processes and destabilizing livelihoods – while for others it started spinning even faster, and many found themselves facing a new kind of anxiety. Our fear of the unknown, the unpredictable, and the question of how long this condition would last became decisive. Many wondered if we could (or should) return to “normal” life, and what would we consider normal from now on? Now that we have returned to a more familiar situation with the gradual easing of restrictions, the question of how to look at situations in life which were hardly problem-free before this dramatic moment may become more important. The works of art, although created before the coronavirus hit the world, nevertheless point to a number of difficulties which in recent months have come to the fore or have been enriched with new layers of meaning. The title of the exhibition ironically twists the sentence from the well-known film, as we had already sensed that things were not “alright,” but now perhaps we are better able to speak about this.
“So far so good, so far so good…” – as one of the main characters of the French film La Haine quotes a man saying a mantra to reassure himself while falling from a skyscraper. Taking the contradictory nature of this quote as its point of departure, our exhibition revolves around contemporary phenomena that have become integral to our general mood: anxiety, stress or burnout. For the most part, the performance-based character of the 21st century and the compulsive pursuit of productivity are to blame for this. (See, for instance The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han). Practically competing with itself, the self gives rise to a self-exploiting lifestyle that can easily lead to constant anxiety or burnout syndrome. It is owing to the expectation of constant standby and flexibility that the boundaries between work and free time are becoming increasingly blurred in today’s late capitalist system. We feel trapped in a treadmill that is impossible to get out of.
Still, what are the potential ways out of this situation that keeps eroding the individual? Can we take a break and if yes, how? The question arises: to what extent various therapeutic and self-help methods, or slow living strategies can be of help? How are approaches that are less scientific or rational and more intuitive, spiritual and magical becoming more appreciated? With a focus on artists from across the region, our international group exhibition presents, on the one hand, works that directly or indirectly address anxiety and stress. In relation to this, the existentially vulnerable quality of (artistic) work becomes emphasised as well as the difficulty of self-representation and finding a job, and the theme of existential insecurity in general. On the other hand, the exhibition presents individual as well as collective rites and proposals for solutions, interpreted by the artists either critically or as examples to be followed. From the reclamation of the importance of sleep and relaxation through various meditational, Far Eastern practices to the development of models for communities seceding from society, the exhibition prioritises the heterogeneity of answers.