October 1, 2015

State of Mankind

Berlin Art Week sees Berlin-based art publishers DRAW A LINE present a specially curated exhibition entitled ‘State of Mankind’.

For this collection we gathered works from the below mentioned artists that convey their different attitudes towards humankind's place in the world, their progression and, their lack of it.

Cleon Peterson (LA), Ken Sortais (Paris), Eike König (Berlin), Andrew Gilbert (Berlin), Markus Mai (Berlin) and Daniel Jackson (Berlin)

15 - 20 September 2015, Potsdamer Straße 102, Berlin

About The Show

Even though the world seems to be falling apart, and the order of the last century has almost fallen into oblivion, we do not seem to react to our modern catastrophes with the fear and apprehension that they arguably warrant.

On a daily basis our world is threatened by natural disaster; a threat aggravated by the global warming which each of us contribute to. This now is an age of terrorism and endless conflict. Our domain is punctuated with oppressive regimes, hunger and displacement. Yet, the vast majority of us do nothing except strive to preserve our own personal sense of normality, and our daily routines that go somewhat unaffected by it all.

In saying that, we are more advanced then ever. Thankfully advanced developments are not just reserved for weaponry; they are also very much present in the medical sphere and in artificial intelligence, and also in the understandings of different perspectives and ideologies. However this new age of promise does not seem to inspire or motivate us.  And the extent of our media coverage nowadays seems only to further our role as uneasy spectators, an uneasiness that can easily be quashed by simply looking away.

However, this avoidance, this looking away should not be regarded as a sign of despair. Yes, we are facing many challenges, a single one of which may be enough for an entire generation to attempt to overcome but it seems we look forward to the future with the conviction that everything will work out in the end and that goodness will prevail. Some people would refer to that as faith, and perhaps that’s a naïve outlook, but it is one fuelled by hope. We have the profound conviction that humanity possesses the ability to solve these problems, and that is what will bind us.

Those without such convictions, the pessimists of the world may identify with the fundamental evil of fatalism, of hopelessness. This type of person sarcomas to an extent to the vortex of what they see as inevitable, impending doom.  It is however, perhaps this individual who contributes more to our outcomes than the passive optimist. The pragmatic pessimist may be more likely to act, given that they don’t share in the comfort of faith and of hope. The lack of this drives the compulsion to find practical and real solutions. Of course, a happy ending is a universal desire, but the approach to achieving that ending, well there is little to no consistency on that front.  A consistency that we could all strive for however, is one that sees each of us contributing what we can – some would call it, doing our best.

The process of people coming together in times of crises has been observed for thousands of years, and presently our distinct lack of unity in finding solutions is unhinging society. The tasks in hand have been shrouded by our inability to agree on how to handle them, and this multitude of convictions regarding what is right is causing inaction and chaos.

The Art world has by no means gone unaffected by the trials that surround us all.  Art is rediscovering its ability to address problems and to present solutions through a creative approach. Art can be used to express the doubts and hopes that we all feel. We, the organizers of ‘State of Mankind’, have confronted six artists with these insurmountable global challenges. We of course expected them to fail in their quests for solutions, and we wants to observe their expressions of this defeat and the frustrations it produced. They were purposefully presented with this an unachievable goal in order for them to achieve their full potential of artistic problem-solving strategies. Subsequently, what has been produces here is a series of works in which we will all find something to relate to.

In all, the six artists were united in realising that there is no solution to these challenges. This further demonstrates that all of us, as individuals are all impotent in the face of such immense problems. Perhaps if we cannot find a unifying solution we can instead be united in recognising the magnitude of what we now must face. This is what this exhibit aims to demonstrate. Maybe it will inspire faith, maybe it will inspire action; but hopefully it will make us re-examine our chronic passivism.

Photos by Stefan Hähnel / Text by Morven Clements