Im/Possible Community

Shedhalle / Exhibitions / Im/Possible Community

Juliane Zelwies: still from “Meisterwerke”, 5-channel-video-installation, 2009

Juliane Zelwies: still from “Meisterwerke”, 5-channel-video-installation, 2009

Im/Possible Community
Opening: 6 November 2009, 7pm
Exhibition: 7 November 2009 – 31 January 2010

Curated by Anke Hoffmann and Yvonne Volkart

Artists: Nevin Aladag, Ulf Aminde, Sabina Baumann, Perry Bard, Bureau d'Etudes, Hassan Khan, Korpys/Löffler, Heimo Lattner, Naeem Mohaiemen, p-r-o-x-y, Isabelle Stever, Tellervo Kalleinen/ Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Juliane Zelwies

The present times of crisis and fear of the future increasingly spawn a desire for communality. After having reached the bottom of the scale, notions like “solidarity” or “hospitality” are becoming far more seducing than e. g. “speculation” or “in for greed”. What would happen to us, flexible human beings getting accustomed to being made ever more flexible, if common social grounds didn’t give protection, especially in difficult times? What would happen to the young male broker, meanwhile mutated to enemy no.1, if there weren’t people with different plans and ideas, who support him and put him into perspective. In all the media, throughout society, the seemingly positive aspects of our difficult times are being discussed: Neo-liberalism has (shown) its limits but, at the same time, increased the acceptability of differing values and concepts of social coexistence. We have to wait and see whether these hopes will come true. Considering the popularity of the lines of political thinking that increasingly aim at and focus on personal ownership and personal contribution doubts may be voiced.

Starting point of the exhibition “Im/Possible Community“ is the assumption that questions pertaining to community cannot be raised in the light of the present crisis only. Communities – if we do not define them as some sort of brotherhood which we join forever and a day – are something we are confronted with every day, something determining our lives, something necessary. (Patchwork)Families, e. g., or Greenpeace. Online communities or the association Shedhalle. Even though it is not out of economical necessity that we seek to study the concept of community, the knowledge that there is only one world makes the questions involved unequally urgent: the global market economy with its imbalances has led to totally new dependencies while the old systems of power still remain intact. Climatologic changes augment these imbalances; the demographical scenarios of the superannuation of the populations in western countries project problems that cannot be solved nationally any longer; last but not least, people have gotten ever more closely connected by the internet and have grown aware of the urgent need of the solution of global conflicts.

No matter if on a small or on a large scale, we have to take up the challenges and to find ways of making toward each other. Not in order to propagate a community of the same but an “unholy alliance” (Haraway), a “motley crew” that is able to respect the differences and that, at least partly, exceeds well known bounds and limits and enemy stereotypes. The example we favour most as a depiction of an im/possible community can be found in a fairy tale by the brothers Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians: ousted and on the run, trying to escape the deadly peril, donkey, dog, cat, and rooster, by supporting each other, open up new perspectives in life.

The Shedhalle exhibition project focuses on displaying and loosely connecting, in various media, topics and elements involved: invisible networks, utopian communities, walling off, migration, conflict, integrating the different, partitioning and taking part. It draws a bow from the global to the psychodynamics of the smallest communities. Wishing that topics and relations can be seen in a different way, we will, furthermore, present projects introducing alternative groupings.

When talking about an im/possible community we use the word in both senses: impossible, because communities to the extent to which they include and allow differences can be communities only partly and temporarily. And impossible in the sense that prevailing lines of thinking are exceeded, that new values are created and presuppositions disrupted: being outrageous. Im/Possible means to render the split within the group and one’s own ambivalence prolific. Community has to be created, community means permanent work, means voicing desires, means arguing, listening. It is exactly this bargaining, this degree of uncertainty and uncontrollability that makes communities something exciting and rewarding: to act communally, thus, means giving up part of oneself, letting go, dissolving.

One further aspect involved can be seen in the community that is created between the exhibition and the viewers, the audience. We consider the Shedhalle as a symbolic space that allows us to experience something different – the im/possible community – physically, mentally and emotionally very much the same way Irit Rogoff, following Hannah Arendt, considers the exhibition space as a “space of appearance” where something can happen between people and objects.

The whole project “Im/Possible community” equally comprises exhibitions and events and is realised in collaboration with ith/ZHdK. The exhibition is curated by Anke Hoffmann and Yvonne Volkart. The series of lectures and workshops was conceived and prepared by Elke Bippus, with the support of Anne Schuh, Chantal Küng and David Lanz, ith/ZHdK (in German only).

The display brings the seemingly disparate and precarious together and – by its empty centre – creates space for temporary gatherings and events.