The exhibition project STATE of THINGS brings together different yet related observations, for the most part in positions from fine artists working with photography and film, and interprets current events both in and out of our proximity. It thus takes up a certain conceptual orientation and initiative: Europe—as a shared idea under the sign of discovery and exchange, connections and affiliations, present and future. The word connection signifies relationship, community, and coherence. Among other things, Wikipedia writes that the term stands for the union of two objects, where it is irrelevant if both remain the same in their respective properties or if they become a new substance altogether with altered properties.
This exhibition project lends itself to the city of Chemnitz as the future European Capital of Culture, serving as a preview of the Cultural Year 2025. In increasingly unsettled times, it asks about the current state of affairs and the now; once again, it not only allows attention to be paid to community(ies), but also articulates the search for revitalisation and perspective after the most recent period of generalized social and cultural standstill. In the (s)election of artistic positions, the question is also raised of a political and socially relevant turn towards the photographic medium. An attempt is also made here to discuss and update the medium’s extended relationship to reality brought on by its borderless and universal comprehensibility: where does reality end, and where does the (staged) interpretation begin?
At the site of the exhibition, connections and fusions with other forms of artistic expression consciously take shape. They reflect not only the conditions of the medium but expand it into geographies of visual metaphors and context(s). Associative links mark out new spaces for action that lead to (critical) interrelations between the public, society, and mediation. As well, exhibition spaces are an indispensable platform for exchange and involvement from many actors, thus they are not least significant as a contribution that goes beyond cultural life. For the public, they open up a participatory space where the everyday passage of time is interrupted and familiarity is questioned using other forms of communication; here, new connections also become visible.
Are previously established and contractually stipulated ties presently dissolving? Are unprecedented alliances emerging after this social, civic, and economic standstill, that point to something along the lines of ‘Nothing remains what it seems’, producing new relations—in altered manifestations, moods, and perceptions—for a world that has become fragile? The philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas expressed in an interview: ‘There has never been so much knowledge about our unknowing and about the compulsion to act under uncertainty.’* Is it necessary, then, to rethink a dialectic of enlightenment; more freedom and equality instead of border-strengthening initiatives? Are greater regional tendencies already recognizable that imply—to take up the controversial thoughts of essayist Robert Menasse—that in the future there will be no nations, but only regions? What of his proposal of a network of regions for Europe, in which greater human—not national—decisions are emphasized?**
This exhibition project does not seek traditional European representations, but instead uses artistic means and individual reflections to try to understand the present, which appears more than ever detached from national identities and affiliations. STATE of THINGS is suitable as a thought or even a motif for social and civic renewal. Changes of perspective are negotiated between dialogue and food for thought. In a fragile present, the project thus provides a discursive platform for diverse views and encounters. The exhibition is an attempt to search for other images and emotions in the now, beyond the mass media with their daily repetitive and increasingly ineffective flood of images. Through conceptual and not only photographic positions, familiar (visual) boundaries are abolished in order to approach an alternative conception of things. At the edges of that which is documentary, new alliances can be observed in the present. As a sort of protocol, variations on the narrative are made visible, and the exhibited works become vehicles for speculation, allowing free space for associations, outlooks, and meanings in the (new) reality…