Anyone can become the protagonist of their own story in our digital age, typified by social media and its endless platforms for networking and self-broadcasting.
The common ground shared by all seven participating artists in ‘On stage’, is their recognition that within contemporary society, artifice and affectation have interwoven inextricably with reality. The curtain has lifted, so to speak. The works in the exhibition, comprising photographs, performances, drawings and video installations, are characterised by an element of suspense, as if an incident has just occurred or is about to happen. This atmosphere shifts attention on to the viewer, who becomes part of the scene. Consequently the show raises questions such as: For whom do we act? Who is our public? With whom do we wish to communicate? Which principles of reality do we follow?
With the onset of so-called ‘liquid modernity’, in which we drift through our lives like tourists – shifting our values, environments, and social positions in a fluid manner – analysing the boundaries between what is real and what is fiction is no longer effective. As such, the works exhibited do not focus on individual or collective activity, but on imagined scenes or landscapes, within which our social reality unfolds. The artists’ directed interests can be seen as expanded viewpoints, offering settings through which to interpret even our smallest actions. Therefore, paradoxically, what is on stage at KARST is not the performer, but the location where the public and artist meet; where they are invited to reassess their roles.
The seven artists in the inaugural showing of On Stage are all from differing backgrounds and nationalities. Each have received critical acclaim for their contributions to contemporary art, confirmed by exhibitions in museums such as Tate Modern; New Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Venice, Berlin and Lyon Biennales, to name a few. They were invited to participate in this project because their works are often in direct dialogue with their viewers and the spaces in which they are presented. On Stage theatrically investigates the role of contemporary art in the debate surrounding the homogenisation of cultural identity, in the era of permeable national borders, post-ideologies and fluid modernity.