FUTURA, Prague: Comet


Zbyněk Baladrán, Václav Girsa, Isabela Grosseová, Dominik Hejtmánek, Nikola Ivanov, Stanislav Karoli, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Jan Kolský, Pavel Sterec, Vojtěch Rada, Rafani, Sláva Sobotovičová, Jan Šerých, Lenka Vítková, Junsheng Zhou

Concept: Edith Jeřábková, Dominika Hejtmánek, Nikola Ivanov, Jan Kolský, Junsheng Zhou

Architect: Isabela Grosseová

Curator: Edith Jeřábková

This exhibition arrived from the uncertain discussion regarding the possibilities of how altered states of consciousness could be used in the contemporary approach towards our lives. Its aims are however not as utopical, but rather interested in the contributions of different cultures, more precisely contra-cultures, affecting the social consciousness in three strong waves of the 60s (hippie), 70s (punk) and 90s (rave). This is not based on any historical perspective such as the project "The Whole Earth. California and the Disappearance of the Outside” prepared by editors Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke, although the discourse and this book itself was one of our sources.

This book gathered in one place all the discussions turning around the catalogues of Steward Brand and its analysis and critique of the holistic approaches on our existence on the blue planet. First of all Brand disrupted the belief in the possibility of a free existence in the frame of California alternative culture community of the 60s, which ideology, and especially its alternativeness, being absorbed by the establishment, had clearly negative results in the frame of neoliberalism and digital capitalism.

Apparently, although some theories and social phenomena do exist and are able to be perceived for centuries, it is determined, that they will eternally return. For this reason we chose the metaphor of a comet as element ever returning, which, however being in the same time identical, is also constantly changing. Its core and its tail are the figures and prefigures for the flow of things, their direction and phenomena only in the highest generalization.

In this sense it seems, we are coming back to the connection of virtual and real, but with an experience shaped with the shift, which the definition of reality proceeded in the modern and postmodern society. This first mass experience with "virtual" was different from the prediction given by the sci-fi literature and cinema. We did not have to physically join any computer game or virtual simulation (even though we, in a way, are interconnected) and despite the fact we experienced and are experiencing the virtuality of nowadays economic monster and interrelated war conflicts, the consequences we are exposed to, are still in the sphere of what remained from reality.

That is why Bruno Latour stands at another attempt to change the ways of political representation and save "the political" in our non-consistent society with the help of so called Dink-politics, an attempt deepened by the speculative materialists in a way to raise attention for sources appearing when looking "differently" at matter and things, which connects and divides us. This speculative turn of continental materialist and reality theory and philosophy should replace the dominant linguistic turn of the Kantian correlationism, in which there is no being without human cognition and remove the dominant position of human subject in the planetary system.

No matter how are those matter-animating thoughts tempting, especially for artist coming after the era when the de-materialisiation defense against the art market failed and where the problem of ego is still present chapter, it is necessary to ask if some ideas, for example the ones of Jean Benett concerning the approval of an active role of non-human powers in political and social processes, is not a similar narcissism as alternative ideology of New Communalist (as Fred Turner calls them) of the 60s. Benet's idea of shared materiality of all the things, minimalizing differences in between subjects and objects and as follows the straightening of relations in a way, that object's aim is to sustain networks it is part of, sounds to me very close to cyber-utopic visions of the free internet culture.

But how to make this holistic approach holistic and not just a partial alternative which ending as its very own imagination? Similarly interesting is to follow post internet subject steping out of the network "back to reality" or at least to the third dimension. Why so, if many suggests, that quantum physics is only the bottom of our knowledge, which "could" climb up to 14 dimensions? Despite all the failures of contra-cultures – which one, except "the enemies" were more succesful?

Despite all the problems attempting to look at the world as a whole, it is finally inevitable to abandon the old polarities of left and right-wing, east and west, nature and technology, body and soul, subject and object, all which however still appeal on us with their presence. That is why we are interested in different forms of seeing or perceiving the world, whether it be psychedelic, cyberpunk, cybertarian, speculatively materialistic and different powers inside of them such as altered states of consciousness, fetish erotic, the will of matter, technological subconscious and others.

Interesting quality of psychedelics is, as Lars Bang Larsen or rather Dexter Bang Sinister states, that it exists in a way "without its substance", surrounded with stories, memories and properties. It is slippery and only present, but it is also able to appear as totality and absolute – as a diamond hanging from cosmic Christmas tree (Nabokov, Bend Sinister).

Psychedelic revolution allowed life to be a trip, concert, happening – to name at least few of its achievements. With no doubt such behavior has been since used and sold out, but still remains somehow subversive. Drug culture of the 60s did not bring only a "new look", sound and esthetics, all forms reminding us of radicalness and freedom. Psychedelics has its life after life "… and it is hard to let go of the intuition that something remains unaccounted for, that psychedelia’s fundamental strangeness can be rendered productive once more.

Psychedelic art was made by and for those who don’t level, who don’t stay still: the high, the tripping, or, in Danish slang, „de skoeve“ – the awry, the uneven; basically, those who abandoned what we take to be normal vision.“ (Dexter Bang Sinister, Black & White Psychedelia, in: Stuart Bailey, Angie Keefer, David Reinfurt, Eds., Bulletins of the Serving Library #4, Sternberg Press, 2012, p. 7.)

Apparently this century parts with Descartes, Newton, Kant and beginns to nostalgically memorise third dimensions and gravitation, which however is still our everyday reality. Bruno Latour in his lecture about antropocén mentions the movie Gravity by Alfons Cuarón. Movie, which brings impressive testament about the absence of outer space and universe and about the idea of escape leading always back to Earth.

Anselm Franke explains this situation as the disappearance of "the outside" and the loss of horizon with the words of astronaut R. Schweickart: "No frames, no borders." Latour's proposal is to completely rebuild our thinking about the sphere of humanity and social and start to think about all the inhabitants of planet Eart as earthlings. Viewed from the perspective of the early 70s J.G.Ballard described similar situation: Electronic aids, particularly domestic computers, will help the inner migration, the opting out of reality. Reality is no longer going to be the stuff out there, but the stuff inside your head.

The conception of this exhibition was created in the frame of a workshop with the students of FAMU and was further developped through meetings with all the artist prior to the exhibition and during its preparation, and in the frame of discussion with invited guests focused on altered states of conciousness happening September 22nd 2014 in FUTURA gallery.

Edith Jeřábková

The exhibition runs until June 4th, 2015


Holečkova 49

Praha 5, 150 00

Opening hours: wed-sun 11am-6pm

free entry

The project has been realised in collaboration and with the kind support of FAMU and VRUNION


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