Curated by Chus Martínez in collaboration with Lysann König, “Every Contact Leaves a Trace“, the Bachelor and Master exhibition of the Institut Kunst HGK FHNW takes place at Kunsthalle Basel and Kaskadenkondensator.
“Every contact leaves a trace”. The phrase expresses an enormous confidence in experience. All that is known departs from experience; the mind needs the senses. The senses are there not only for adaptive reasons but also as a way to create a force that both allows us to be part of the inanimate world and to understand that there is not such a thing as a “cut” between us and the rest, the whole, between an inner self and the outside, of me, of us.
This thought seems harmless, but we’ve mostly opposed it for the last five hundred years. From religion to capitalism(s), all these systems have been constructing a different architecture, an architecture of a self that can exist independently of all the traces, of all the experiences; a self that can even make it alone or with just a few others, and survive “outside” the flow of events and experiences that others might feel. We’ve been building walls, hard skins, and filters—depending on which metaphor you like the most—to maintain the fiction that experience is good, but that it is also the enemy of our autonomy and autonomy is the key to our identity and identity is the key to our culture. It is still always strange when people ask why art is there, or what art is for. Hegel may have been right. Art isn’t there just for the obvious reason to continue this hard education on the major importance of the senses.
He might as well have been right when he said that art might just be a placeholder, since it is not unthinkable to dream of an even better tool to expose ourselves continuously to abstraction (thinking) and materiality in such a way to understand that our major duty is not a moral one; it is instead to open up as wide as we can to complexity. I don’t think that Hegel would be surprised by those who question the existence of art. He would be surprised—shocked even—if the question would not in itself be the expression of a bigger ambition, an ambition to work even harder in the realm of unknown complexity.