The second exhibition of this year`s summer program, entitled Recession Grimace, brings together the work of five artists: Lisa Gutscher, Jake Kent, Tanoa Sasraku, Paul Sochacki and Sung Tieu. Taken from Cruel Optimism, Laurent Berlant’s study on capitalism and affect, the title refers to an expression, “a new mask,” that appears in the drawn-out moment of realizing that yes, in fact, hope is futile. Berlant’s analysis reflects on the experience of systematic precarity and inequality in late capitalism that has undermined a livable present for most. The now real threat of another recession seems to paradoxically foreclose the possibility of doubling down. The unsustainability of the current system is prohibited from becoming a political reality; instead, the resulting crisis is further individualized and pathologized.
The five positions assembled in Recession Grimace expand our understanding of this mechanism, drawing an affective map of loss, disappointment, and disobedience, where the personal and the political are indistinguishable from each other. While the habitualization and institutionalization of critique aims to safeguard the integrity of the traditionally white and male subject, the exhibited artworks attest to critique as a work that puts both the subject and the object at permanent risk of undermining each other. A ruin of contemporary feelings, they show us that some things only come into focus when we decide to not grin and bear it.