EXHIBITION at SAVVY Contemporary 15.12.2019–26.01.2020 Thurs–Sun 14:00–19:00
WITH John Akomfrah, Ulf Aminde, Leo Asemota, Yassine Balbzioui, M’Barek Bouhchichi, Virginia Chihota, Larisa Crunțeanu, Alessandra Eramo, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Frederick W. Hickling, Lukas Hofmann, Immy Mali, Teresa Margolles, Nathalie Mazéas, Lavar Munroe, Adjani Okpu-Egbe, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
EXHIBITION at ifa Gallery 14.12.2019–16.02.2020 Tues – Sun 14:00–18:00
WITH Leo Asemota, Virginia Chihota, Jaswant Guzder, Eva Kotatkova, and Tracey Rose
"...for it is not man but the world which has become abnormal..."
–– Antonin Artaud
ULTRASANITY, a project in four chapters, challenges Western scientific methods and perspectives on mental health and questions medical (mis)conceptions of psychopathologies by situating them in the context of coloniality, racialisation, objectification, and patriarchal oppression. Deeply entangled with our previous reflections on land struggles and toxicity, this project confronts us again with traumas and fears of displacement and contamination, this time offering an opportunity to ponder the notion of madness beyond a Western understanding.
Over the course of one year, we collaborated with clinicians, artists, patients, cognitive scientists, scholars and practitioners and unfolded this project jointly with ifa Gallery Berlin, the Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN), the Gnaoua Festival (Morocco) and Picha Art Lubumbashi (DRC).Together, we interrogated the grammars of violence inscribed in universal therapeutic models and the pharmacologisation of care still practised today. Beyond a romanticisation of madness, we seek to address the heuristic and generative potential of certain forms of delirium. Beyond that we want to grant fundamental significance to community engagement and to spiritual, systemic, intra-generational histories in formulating healing strategies.
With this exhibition and discursive programme, we navigate the space of ULTRASANITY, moving beyond the dichotomy of insanity as the opposite of sanity, to inhabit the liminal space that lies beyond the norm, stripped of the process of normalisation and control.
Madness is not a safe space, not a place to walk in for an elusive diversion. Madness can burn. And it doesn’t burn, as the Amazon, only because of governments, of corruption, because of our insane societies and the violent actions of men since centuries. It can also burn of its own fire, sometimes combusting everything in it and around it, crumbling the possibility of certainty and comprehension. But amidst smoke and flames, fire also produces light, and amidst darkness or confusion, it may give us the possibility of seeing through the thickness of the gloom.
As Antonin Artaud wrote in Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society, those having superior lucidities and luminosity, those with the gift of special faculties and spirits, have too often been declared insane for breaking out of societal norms.
Madness can be a form of ultrasanity, an elastic space that lies beyond the dualistic categories of sanity and insanity. To compose a partiture of statements and a chorus of different voices, SAVVY Contemporary deliberates on different trajectories, such as the construction of insanity and madness as an attempt to normalise those out of the norm; sanitation, segregation, and the entanglements between madness, colonialism and coloniality; madness as a tool of resistance, of escape, and refusal; and the power of intra-generational histories and community in formulating healing strategies.
Addressing the claustrophobic structures of discipline imposed on us by society and in particular by educational systems, the different works installed at ifa deal with the possibility of challenging and dismantling contrivances of control and apparatus of confinement through the poiesis of collective engagement.
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CURATORS Elena Agudio, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
CO-CURATOR Kelly Krugman
PROJECT TEAM Lynhan Ildefonso, Abhishek Nilamber, Lili Somogyi
MANAGEMENT Lema Sjel, Kenzo Barthes
COMMUNICATION Anna Jäger
GRAPHIC DESIGN Elsa Westreicher, Lili Somogyi
TECH Bert Günther
ART HANDLING Mungai Willy, Kim Kimani
ULTRASANITY. On Madness, Sanitation, Anti-psychiatry, and Resistance is the last chapter of our long-term investigation THE INVENTION OF SCIENCE. It is a collaboration of SAVVY Contemporary with ifa Gallery Berlin, Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN Berlin), Picha Art Lubumbashi and the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira. The project is funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes), the Foundation of Arts Initiative, and Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN Berlin).