November 9 – December 11, 2020
Artists: Ed Fornieles, Gašper Kunšič, Max Kolten
Curated by: Alexandra-Maria Toth
Photos by: Flavio Palasciano. Courtesy New Jörg and the Artists.
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In “the will to change”, writer and literary scholar bell hooks describes the patriarchy’s perpetual effect on men and society as a whole and how the time is ripe for change. By exploring cultural productions of masculinities with an approach of critical empathy, hooks acknowledges the pain and suffering caused by the patriarchy and calls on women and men equally to reject patriarchal demands and instead suggests embracing practices of love, healing and intimacy.
In CEL (2019) Ed Fornieles draws attention to patriarchal structures by documenting a 72 hours Performance – a so-called Live Action Role Play (LARP), in which the artist himself and nine other participants embody a fictional group of alt-right gamers in a simulated reality. Rules and protocols lead the characters to explore ideologies, which generate highly aggressive behaviors commonly known as masculine. The most important rule in this simulation is to encourage the participants to fight physically, mentally or verbally against each other in order to avoid any kind of human bonding and to reach superiority (“You must always have someone lower than yourself”). Only by death, can these structures and rules fall apart, leaving the characters of CEL without guidance but with the possibility to create a new protocol, that differs from the violent simulation they were thrown into. In Addition to CEL, Ed Fornieles developed DEBRIEF (2019), a video work, which allowed each participant to reflect and talk about their experiences cultivated within the simulation. Participants described the environment of CEL as painfully familiar and felt reminded of their teenage years, where violence was acceptable to demonstrate and maintain a position of power.
bell hooks identifies core families and its hierarchical rules as heavily charged with patriarchal ideologies. She explains, that in order to end domination and experience love, we must begin to reject these rules in our closest relationships. Perhaps at this point, the work of Gašper Kunšič aligns with CEL and hooks by addressing traditional and religious beliefs towards gender roles and structures, which are often apparent in parental homes. His black sculpture is reminiscent of the crown of thorns and presses down on us from above, like an inevitable burden. The naked self-portrays of the artist appear bold and independent – yet vulnerable. The images are partly covered by colorful architectural elements, which create the impression of Kunšič being either protected of – or locked in by various harmful outside influences or demands. His smiling heart is hidden, but present to spread a hopeful and healing aura.
Lingering on the walls are the two figurative metal sculptures by Max Kolten. These fragile works discuss the deeper relationship between gender and power, and focus on how certain ways of “being a man” are privileged within different cultural settings. His recent exploration of toxic masculinities and bullying behaviors amongst men within gay culture exposes the reality of subordinate variants of men. These left the artist exhausted - yet eager to discuss utopian scenarios for societies that are characterized by emancipatory thinking and equality. His drawings are incorporated with elements of pre or post-patriarchal cultures and thoughts of rebirth. Each work is supplemented by a poem, written by his partner Alejandro Rubalcava to reveal a strong (male) interest in welcoming and supporting feminist and queer thoughts to the world and therefore a will to change.