The opening exhibition of Syker Vorwerk — Centre for Contemporary Art in 2022 is titled Beyond Homogeneity. The large–scale exhibition focuses on positions of international contemporary art that deal with the relationship between art and society. Certainly, this concern characterises a topos of art production, hence it is a central theme not only of art history, art theory and art criticism, but also of curatorial practice. Beyond Homogeneity, however, is more narrowly defined. Its specificity lies both in the way the content is approached and in the positioning of its actors. The latter are the artists Marwa Arsanios, Delaine Le Bas, Helen Cammock, Andrew Gilbert, Manaf Halbouni, Jasleen Kaur, Mónica de Miranda, Harold Offeh, Ahmet Öğüt and Lerato Shadi.
The conception of the exhibition goes back to the thesis that there is a critical art that deals with asymmetries and discrepancies of social reality and operates at the core of the art system. An art — hence the exhibition’s particular focus — that starts from an expanded understanding of culture and society, and whose creators move between cultures. This factor allows the artist to override the common binary schemes of thought contained in such concepts as one’s own versus the foreign, the autochthonous versus the allochthonous, the centre versus the periphery. Both the art and the art–creating individual are — to put it succinctly — beyond homogeneity.
Using various media and aesthetic strategies, the ten artists in the exhibition exemplify the critical reflexivity of contemporary art. Their artistic engagement does not emerge primarily from the needs of an existing and evolving concept of art, but rather involves critical reflection on the factors and conditions of an increasingly complex society. Since they act as a bridge between coexisting cultural contexts — through their artistic practice and the characteristics of their biography and way of life — these artists take a stand on the complexity of the shared reality and highlight the dialogical moment in the encounter with cultural and subjective diversity. They suspend asymmetrical polarities and drop the notion of alterity as an antithesis to identity. In this way, they reveal the dialogicity and pluriperspectivity of culture and create spaces for third values that embody the common, beyond all differences.
Beyond Homogeneity is based on an art–historical and –theoretical approach, but goes beyond this in its ambition. Through the practice of the participating artists, the exhibition explores the traits of a broad, transnational phenomenon within contemporary art and supports with evidence the assumption underlying its empirical observation. This does not address primarily the academic attempt to prove a hypothesis, but rather the political consequence that results from dealing with the issue under discussion. In its claim, we understand this approach as a contribution to the equal coexistence of differences. This is precisely the core, content and programme of the exhibition. By pointedly displaying the critical clout of contemporary art, the exhibition creates a space for critical reflection and sensitisation and thus contributes to the achievement of a more equitable reality characterised by heterogeneity and diversity.
Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung
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