Upcoming Exhibition

Fellow Prisoners

Curated by Sarah Zürcher

 10 /11 - 21/12 - 2019

Angela Marzullo

Xavier Noiret-Thomé

Veronika Spierenburg

 

Gallery Nicola Von Senger 

Limastrasse 275

CH-8005 Zurich

T 004144 201 88 10

"It does not suffice to change the world. We do that anyway. And to a large extent that happens even without our involvement. In addition we have to interpret this change. Precisely because to change it. That therefore the world does not change without us. And ultimately into a world without us."

– Günther Anders, Outdatedness of Human Beings vol. 2

With the first images of the earth transmitted by satellite, human beings discover a closed world and a fragile planet, opening itself to a new era, that of the anthropocene. New concerns are emerging. Photos and videos taken with mobile phones allow you to follow live the wars, uprisings and repressions that are taking place on the other side of the world. From city to city, across countries and continents, we fly over the earth at high speed in a world that paradoxically presents itself without borders.

However, the storm seems to be raging. Cumulus clouds with a heavy nationalist past darken the sky. Populist thunderclaps sound the death knell. The breath of Tweets in the White House sets the pace for a frenetic world. In the centre of the cyclone, calm seems to have spread to intellectuals and "cultural" people. However, there are more issues to be addressed than ever. Artists and activists have taken the path of demands. Culture, the great forgotten, is trying to win its fake battle under the patronymic of the "comm-uns". Post-Truth Politics" and conspiracy theories reveal the paradoxes of a neoliberal society, revealing its false beliefs and new walls (like widening gaps). The new technologies with their new means of communication (of "sharing" and "being with") seem to replace the values of freedom and equality, for which we had fought so hard. Computers and touch screens relay the individual to the world on a fictitious level of sharing, plunging the human being into a social malaise. The human being at the service of the machine must be efficient and is itself a product incapable of creating a direct link to the other. Will the world soon be replaced by a culture of hatred or dystopia?

In his essay "Fellow Prisoners", John Berger says "The landmark I've found is that of prison. Nothing less. Across the planet we are living in a prison". What kind of prison? How is it constructed? Where is it situated? Or am I only using the word as a figure of speech? No, it's not a metaphor, the imprisonment is real, but to describe it one has to think historically". While refuting the image of prison, he reveals its internal contradictions, to entrench the reader towards new values of freedom and equality.

It is nevertheless to be asked whether the human being, "condemned" to be free, isalone to answer for his actions? Is it really a solitary and existentialist struggle that imprisons man on earth? Or, on the contrary, as Berger says in "Fellow Prisoners", should we redefine our human condition in a common way? Could it be that new technologies isolate the individual to make him paradoxically lose all consciousness of collective life? Is there a pressing need to think collectively about society?

For this exhibition, artists wished to contribute their thoughts and open the debate on historical and global themes that are close to their hearts, facing the derealization of the world, its dehumanization and its general commodification. John Berger's words, "The resistance of the hinterland, listening to the earth" speak to the artists of the 21st century. Relaying our feelings of humanity, this exhibition seeks more to question than to give answers.

For Angela Marzullo, the political subject of feminism is a fluctuating category that requires, as Elsa Dorlin mentions, to redefine its foundation according to struggles and movements, in order to "not reproduce or reiterate exclusions [...] The political philosophy of feminism must therefore resolve to constantly produce an identity in the making[...] in a permanent effort of decentralization". It is in this spirit, not devoid of absurdity tinged with offbeat humour, that the artist reanimates, through transgressive gestures, the feminism of a world in the making. Nourishing herself with the different waves of feminism, Makita creates liberating landmarks, which activate a new collective imagination through female characters and a feminism that Makita/Marzullo reassesses with a new breath. Like Judith Butler, the genre is for Angela Marzullo a parody without originality. It is as if the artist were contemplating the renewal of a theory of the genre, not only by performing a performative act, but also by embodying wild and spontaneous identity claims.

Xavier Noiret-Thomé, both playful poet and producer of aphorisms, likes to divert the common sense, logic and primary function of objects to compose object- sculptures or paintings. Like a game, the artist plays with paradoxes and symbols, inviting the viewer to a masquerade. References to art history are often metaphorical in Xavier Noiret-Thomé's work, recreating with words and objects a very original meaning. His works thus acquire a double symbolic value, playing on words, knowledge and folly. This derision is now more enduring in a world that is tirelessly seeking new landmarks and a new humanism, opening up a dialogue between rupture and tradition, obliterating all classical categories. It questions our relationship to history, to our contemporaneity, and to the receptivity of the work as if, hidden, the very meaning of art rested elsewhere, beyond its temporality, beyond a framework of the image and its context. With this reflexive back and forth, Xavier Noiret-Thomé manages to question the meanders of a world that has become more virtual than real, prey to its "derealization". Tinged with metaphysical absurdity and cynicism, his works are certainly echoing our era, that of global financial capitalism and its consumerist madness.

If Veronika Spierenburg is interested in architecture, it is above all to understand the history of a place and its humanity, challenging the past and present civilizations. This new work, entitled "Aus-Höhlen (2019)", tells in the Georgian language the story of caves and the first Christian cave monasteries built in Georgia in the 4th century. Dug directly into the cliffside limestone in these desert steppes, beaten by the four winds, these caves became a high place of pilgrimage, a centre of knowledge with a school of philosophy, while representing the first types of human dwellings (the de-measure derived from "de-morari" in Latin: last, delay, stop).

A true retreat protecting from external aggression, the access to the caves forms the keystone to a spatial structure, creating an invisible inner labyrinth denoting a spiritual commitment.

Like mythology, it reminds us not only of the history of the labyrinth and the Minotaur dominated by its instinctive impulses, but also of the world of the Argonauts in Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece (symbol of what reason considers impossible) or of Prometheus with his liver eternally devoured by the Caucasian Eagle, which is constantly regenerating (a punishment certainly borrowed by the Greeks from Caucasian legends).

A common world between the present and the past must gradually be built with new values, knowing that most public spheres and even gallery space can disappear at any time...


Nicola von Senger is the gallerist who will bridge and retell his past and present experiences. Like John Berger, he is a storyteller and storytelling is his way of living art!