MIKA KARHUStuttering World 25.11.2023 – 17.12.2023
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) pondered the question of what holds all of this together. The idea could be summed up as follows: what kind of structures in a capitalist social culture enable functional continuity despite the contradictions they involve, or is the transition to a totalitarian society closer than we realise?
Poet Paul Celan (1920-1970) wrote about the era of the collapse of European civilization after WWII. He referred to it in a poem he called Stuttered-over-again World. It was a world that meant an inability to face the human and cultural disasters that followed from totalitarianism. There were no words for the disaster. The age of the stuttered-over-again world needed expression, but how to find a language to express it that would not be handed down through generations, one that would not keep old values alive and reinforce aesthetics rendered empty, a language that is not falsely conciliatory, populist and forgetful of the totalitarian past?
What holds everything together is still a valid question. Is totalitarianism worming its way deeper into European societies? Historically, the rise to power of totalitarian regimes cannot be explained by any single factor or character. The ruthless propaganda spread by totalitarian movements promises easy solutions to problems that derive from inflation, unemployment, debt and even military losses.
Populist speech enhances a sense of unity in a nation by using rhetorical methods to denigrate the immoral ways of the outside world and blaming certain groups for every ill in society. What is typical of totalitarianism is its appeal to the masses consisting of people who do not share any characteristics, but can come from any class or organisation. Totalitarian parties attract people who are thought to be politically passive to their ranks, people who became individualised as the class system broke down and who feel insecure about their status. It used to be the tacit approval of these passive citizens that justified democratic regimes.
We could say that the structures of capitalist democracy have been sufficiently diverse to maintain peace and a pleasant life according to Deleuze. Now the world appears to be a stage for a power struggle between several parties over which we have no control. Interpretative perspectives fight each other over visibility and power.
Nobody can offer a faultless prediction of how the perspectives will be received and interpreted. Taking into account the full freedom and right of the public to be critical and the potentially highly heterogeneous composition of the public, it is even to be expected that some will be offended or annoyed by a point of view that is ever so slightly ethically charged.
The responsibility of an artist is emphasised if we agree with the American philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) that it is not just a question of the public’s immediate reactions, but of the potential transformative effects of art on the world: art can be seen as an important tool for shaping society or, at least, as an instrument for ideals such as compassion and the courage to tackle disparities and hold on to ideals that cannot be expressed and acted on under the prevailing circumstances.
My exhibition at Galleria Heino consists of charcoal drawings and video installations, in which I explore some feelings of anxiety caused by powerlessness, feelings about a stuttered-over-again world that is difficult and problematic to grasp.
Doctor of Fine Arts, artist