ANATOMY OF POLITICAL MELANCHOLY
Athens Conservatory, Greece
Art Space Pythagorion, Samos, Greece
04.08. — 30.09.2018
Participating artists: Katerina Apostolidou | Marc Bauer | Sara Sejin Chang | Marianna Christofides | Depression Era | Eirene Efstathiou | Marina Gioti | Jan Peter Hammer | Sven Johne | Yorgos Karailias | Spiros Kokkonis | Ariane Loze | Adrian Melis | Tom Molloy | Dimitris Mytas | Jennifer Nelson | Yorgos Prinos | Chrysa Romanos | Hans Rosenström | Georges Salameh | Nestori Syrjälä | Thu Van Tran | Dimitris Tsoumplekas | Bram Van Meervelde
The Schwarz Foundation is pleased to announce its first major exhibition in Athens, following the opening of the Foundation's Art Space on the island of Samos in 2012. The exhibition, entitled Anatomy of Political Melancholy, probes the increasing and widespread loss of faith in politics and politicians today. The 24 international artists and one artist's group in it probe different aspects of our current political discontent, explore its effects on the older and the younger generation, and examine how this disillusionment with our present political condition in Europe has created a sense of impasse and malaise that manifests itself in different ways in our everyday lives and in the public domain. Philosopher Lieven de Cauter has called this phenomenon 'political melancholy'.
We are increasingly witnesses to the debasement of political language, the infantilisation and polarisation of political debate; the growth of a simplified discourse that panders to collective fears rather than addressing the real, pressing questions; the lack of accountability from politicians, and of course, 'fake truth' and 'alternative facts'. Clearly, there is something profoundly wrong with contemporary politics: it is not only a case of the moral and intellectual inadequacy of politicians but also the gaping chasm between the aims of politicians and the needs of citizens. The foundations of democracy itself are at risk, not only from the rise of demagogic populism in Europe, but also from the grip of financial institutions and mega-corporations, which have the power to influence the political agenda.
Greece, of course, best exemplifies the loss of sovereignty due to debt, where ordinary citizens have been forced to bail out a country driven to financial collapse by government mismanagement. The longstanding economic and political crisis in the country has led to political disillusionment, mistrust of institutions, a sense of collective powerlessness, and a post-ideological phase characterized by apathy, individualism, and resignation. And of course, political melancholy (in Greece as in other European countries) is fundamentally tied to financial melancholy and austerity politics.
At a time when ideologies tend to divide people instead of uniting them; that condemn instead of bringing about understanding and respect, the exhibition attempts to map the contemporary pathology of politics and asks us to reflect anew on our individual political responsibilities. It aspires to encourage us to reject political apathy and instead believe in the power of both individual as well as collective agency. Anatomy of Political Melancholy comes at a timely moment: both in Greece (with elections coming up in October this year) but also in Europe (with European Parliamentary elections in May - expected to change the EU's political dynamic - and of course the continuing Brexit impasse).
All photos by Panos Kokkinias.