The group exhibition PHANTASMATIC RIFF examines moments that take a step aside of what we can easily signify and identify. It considers gaps of consciousness and moments of going adrift as well as possible representations of placeholders, in-betweens and substitutes for such. Negotiations around narratives of desire and the feeling of not being able to distinguish, mix into hybrid, at times mystical and eerie depictions.
In a way, the exhibition illustrates feelings of uncertainty. Considering whether something is completely fictitious or actually authentic, our very discernment in that regard is being questioned.
In music, a riff is a short melodically or rhythmically concise motif that will make for the recognition value of a song or sound piece. The term ‘phantasm’ has a long tradition, especially in philosophy and psychoanalysis, and was already used by Aristotle in the sense of a mental image. There, it corresponds roughly to what we understand today by phantasy or imagination. In that matter, ‘phantasy’ means the ability to produce mental images, while the ‘phantasma’ refers to the images produced by the imagination itself. For this show, we are not just interested in a mere visual interpretation of phantasies, but rather curious about works that have their own peculiar and twisted relationship with ‘the real’, may this be through processes of transformation, translation, displacement, copy, appropriation or even conspiracy.
After Sigmund Freud had already attributed a decisive role to the „phantasy“ for the constitution of the human psyche, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan introduced the phantasm as a terminological concept into psychoanalytic theory. Lacan uses it to describe the psychic representation of an object or a situation that the subject remembers pictorially. The phantasm thus belongs to the register of the imaginary. Lacan initially divided his theory into three registers which are of value for thinking about this exhibition: the imaginary, the symbolic and the real ;all together making way for subjects to experience the world as it ‘really’ is…
While the psychoanalytical ideas of these thinkers definitely influenced the backbone of the exhibition, it is the works and their materials which help to expand on and explain possible notions of a “Phantasmatic Riff”.
The works themselves turn into placeholders carrying subversive potential for visitors to bounce off and project on.