3172 North Bremen Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212   

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Tel: 414-704-1252

The Emperor has no Clothes

 

 

October 2016

 

The exhibition The Emperor has no Clothes borrows its title from a fairytale by poet Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, sight becomes insight, which, in turn, prompts action and challenges the perception of things. The tale is about the courage to test authorities and speak truth publicly, but its plot and essence also activate concerns of pretentiousness, social hypocrisy, and how entrenched norms can flavor publics.

 

The exhibition aims to artistically and aesthetically reflect upon the forms and perceptions surrounding cultural subjectivity and their dysfunctions in the fabric of contemporary life. The contradictions and complexities of today's identity politics are often concealed and disappear in the ambiguity at the core of a Western notion of politics, freedom, and identity. The fear of a loss of cultural meaning or belonging, thrives when populations density rise and become perceived as masses, stimulating new levels of protection and preservation of cultural identity and legacy. A cultural backwards leap, compared to how we daily activate digital networks and create increased social linkage and flows of information. Networks are fluently functioning as multiple modes, transcending most geographical boundaries, cultural perceptions, or modes of estrangement, in contrast to a discussion around cultural diversities.

 

Artists Annesofie Sandal raises question on class, ethnicity, and our global society through her sculptural practice with discarded materials. Her investigation into homogeneous objects from ‘anywhere’ and ‘everywhere’ pushes our value systems out of sync and into the ambiguity between reading and reality. For their first collaborative project "Acts 12: 6-9", Spencer Stucky and Lucas Briffa select and produce objects and documents surrounding issues of authority and politics. In their practice they research systems of operational power and police aesthetic, protection systems from civil conflicts, and the ambiguities apparent in a population spin out of control. Hesselholdt & Mejlvang create different kinds of scenographic constellations, characterized by aesthetic and political acuity. The artist duo works with national self-understanding and the stereotypically representations of racial classifications and their translation into hidden layers of everyday society. Ana Hansa-Ogren examines ways in which perception and subjectivity have political and social effect. She creates objects and immersive environments, which seduce sensorially, while refusing a quick decoding. By establishing spaces that require a negotiation of meaning, being self-aware rather than passive, Hansa-Ogren draws attention to the role of the audience in the day-to-day act of producing and performing their own environment, experience, and identities.

 

The exhibition is imagined as a conversation between two continents divided by the Atlantic Ocean, Europe and the United States. National and social discourse differs between continents and among cultural perceptions, but the narrow perception around ethnic origins and subjectivity seems to correlate across identities, geopolitical constructions and – time and space.