“As a ‘war of form,’ C does not only revolve around political forms (…). Struggles over form are at the same time struggles over meaning; they fill culture and language with living resistance (…). The sign becomes the arena of C.” (Colin Barker on Valentin Voloshinov)
In dictionary entries, after its first appearance the discussed word is represented by its initial: class, class struggle, class contradiction as well as crisis, catastrophe, or colonialism become C. Our C (K in German) stands for Class Languages, and thus for the question of the verbalization, translation, and inscription of those political and social conflicts that determine our contemporary moment. Instead of passing off art as a model for a better politics, we wish to test it for the signatures, the markers and forms of these deeply antagonistic relations of which art itself is a material part: we are concerned with art as a class language, as well as with class languages in art; with art’s room for maneuver as well as with its limits and restrictions, curatorially, in writing and debate.
Class Languages displays neither purely aesthetic forms of visualizing the linguistic, nor political attempts to interpret art as medium of communication that transcends class. Rather, the exhibition presents a panorama of contemporary positions in which the (class) languages that we share but that also divide us become palpable and open to negotiation as the form of an artistic practice. Whether in the narrative or poetic logic of a sculpture, in the affective surfaces within which a painting embeds the linguistic, in the everyday conversational form of videos, pop songs, and interviews, or in the political and economic rhetorics that find their way into performances. Departing from art as a class language, we examine the class languages that speak out of art: nostalgic, contemporary, future, exclusive or inclusive.
In the confrontation with and between class languages in contemporary art we aim to investigate how these languages can be opened up, in the formats of the exhibition, magazine, and debate: less in the sense of the theoretical determination of concepts or through curatorial classifications as in the shared development of practical knowledge, a competency within and beyond art. Class Languages at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande and Westfalen is the second station of a long- term collaborative project. It was launched with an exhibition and a debate program at District Berlin as well as Issue Zero of a collective journal in summer 2017 with the generous support of Hauptstadtkulturfonds. In continuation of these activities the Kunstverein presents an extension of the project with lectures, workshops, and performances, aiming at furthening the Berlin discussions in Düsseldorf:
With Kai Althoff / Isa Genzken, Gerry Bibby, Cana Bilir-Meier, CAConrad, Michaela Eichwald, Frank Engster, Fehras Publishing Practices, Sarah M. Harrison, Danny Hayward, Ann Hirsch, Karl Holmqvist, Infofiction, Stephan Janitzky, Jutta Koether, Justin Lieberman, Hanne Lippard, Thomas Locher, Karolin Meunier, Johannes Paul Raether, Aykan Safoğlu, spot the silence, Josef Strau, Hans Stützer, Linda Stupart, Ryan Trecartin, Marina Vishmidt, Peter Wächtler, Ian White, Tanja Widmann.
A project initiated by Manuela Ammer, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, Kerstin Stakemeier, and Stephanie Weber. Exhibition design together with Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga.
Curator: Eva Birkenstock (Director)
Curatorial Assistance: Inci Yilmaz
Finance / Administration: Mathias Meis
Technical Manager: Maren Klemmer
Members Desk: Sigrid Konopka
Internship: Zoë Spaaij
The exhibition is supported by