Ahmet Öğüt and Goshka Macuga “Episode 2: The Show is Over” at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
“Life knows what it is doing, and if it is striving to destroy, one must not interfere, since by hindering we are blocking the path to a new conception of life that is born within us.” – Kazimir Malevich
In the wake of destruction, the show is over.
This exhibition is the result of Witte de With director Defne Ayas’ pairing of two critically engaged artists, Goshka Macuga and Ahmet Öğüt. Macuga and Öğüt began a conversation, and through a series of coincidences identified parallel references drawn from their shared social concerns, personal stories, and the ideas driving their respective practices, such as their mutual investment in collaboration and interest in the representation of critical thinkers in the global imaginary. Both artists examine each other’s practices, a process subject to misinformation and misunderstandings along the way, as much as a generosity of ideas, commitment of time, and peer-to-peer play.
Early on in Öğüt and Macuga’s preliminary exchange, Macuga proposed to take up the notions of destruction and ‘sudden change’, played out upon the pair’s work using the exhibition space as test-site, as a means to explore processes of reconstruction. Adopting the gesture of destruction, Macuga builds on a rich heritage of artists that have engaged with both destruction as subject, concept, and process, over the years to different degrees; including Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ai Weiwei, Gordon Matta-Clark, Steve McQueen, Juan Muñoz, and Thomas Demand.
With Episode 2 – The Show is Over, Macuga sets out to question how far destruction can work to critique, protest, and confront the present socio-economic and political predicament. In the face of the recent surge of right-wing, populist, and nationalistic agendas that have come to dominate the current political landscape, what can be gained by enlisting destruction for social critique but also anarchic, pointless destruction; destruction for the pure pleasure of it? – as posed by Russell Ferguson in his paper ‘The Show is Over’ (2014), after which the exhibition is named. Further, how far may destruction be invoked to challenge the perceived stability of art and its institutions through transformative processes of shattering, hijacking, and undoing in order to engage in reinvention? In such an exercise, the pair’s work and working relationship is challenged, manifested as, and through, a gesture of drastic change.
at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
until 31 December 2017