In Search of Today’s Zeitgeist…
Past and Future Conditions
was an exhibition of artists interested in highlighting paradigms in which
truth and knowledge
Some artists contemplate contemporary technologies, such as Liat Berdugo & Emily Martinez’s artwork, which parodies online purveyors of ‘howto’ information in today’s online environment of nonstop advertisements.
Richard Munaba videos show lonely and humorous re-enactments of Missed Connections based on letters from the website ‘craigslist.org’.
The exhibit also includes works by Jennifer Gradecki & Derek Curry, who have created an interactive artwork that replicates techniques that intelligence agencies use to collect data.
Annamaria Gundlach and Neranza Noel Blount, on the other hand, have crafted mixed media objects on the topic of environmental awareness in an era of disposable plastics and water contamination.
Joyce Gralak’s mixed media piece uses 1950s caricatures to highlight changes in public awareness of nuclear weapons.
Robert Thompson comments on the public’s awareness of health and safety in industrialized food production with ‘truthful’ warning labels.
Swiss artist Sarawut Chutiwongpeti explores social values in mega policies in his mashup of flight launches, bridging generations with explosive imagery.
One intricate piece by Shelley Mangold even wrestles with the mysterious conditions of prehistoric cave people as they painted and carved long ago.
Participation in the show was predicated on art submissions and written proposals from the following text:
In order to better understand your work as it relates to the theme of the show, please write a paragraph about which ‘episteme’ (listed below or newly invented by you) that you consider your work to be a part of, and how your episteme fit’s into the trajectory of your artistic practice? (The concept of epistemes is described below.)
“In The Order of Things, Foucault is concerned with epistemes: an episteme is a set of ordered but unconscious ideas that are foundational in determining what is regarded as accepted knowledge in particular periods and times. This was also called the “historical a priori” by Foucault (Flynn 2005: 31; Merquior 1991: 36). But the episteme is not a general body of known knowledge or natural science. An episteme is a kind of unspoken and unconscious stratum underlying and being the precondition for accepted knowledge in each historical period, so that Foucault thought that to unearth the episteme of a period one engages in a metaphorical “archaeology” (Merquior 1991: 36).
Each episteme from one period to the next is supposed to be discontinuous and incommensurable in the sense of being radically different (Merquior 1991: 37), and there is only one underlying episteme for each historical period:
“In any given culture and at any given moment, there is always only one episteme that defines the conditions of possibility of all knowledge, whether expressed in a theory or silently invested in a practice.” (Foucault 1970: 178).
Some examples of historical epistemes as identified by Foucault are as follows:
(1) the pre-Classical period (the later Middle ages and Renaissance up to the mid-17th century), in which people thought in terms of similitudes, resemblances and antipathies (Merquior 1991: 45);
(2) the “Classical” period (the mid-17th to 18th centuries), in which the prevailing episteme stressed representation, mathesis (a science of order and measurement), and taxinomia (science of classification) (Merquior 1991: 46);
(3) the “Modern” period (the 19th century to about the 1950s), in which deep, dynamic historical explanations became important (Merquior 1991: 51);
(4) the contemporary age (from the 1950s onwards) (Merquior 1991: 37, 39).”
Artists of Past and Future Conditions, each in their own way have created artwork that highlights ‘now’ by focusing on the conditions of the past, present, or future. The exhibit also includes works by of Marika and Leopard of Minsk, Belarus and Berlin, and by local artists Joyce Gralak, Peggy Mann, Norman Magden, Emily Schleiner and Christina Fowlergraves.