Social Sculpture

An exhibition curated by Sophie Berrebi

Jean-Baptiste Ganne (b. 1972, lives and works in Amsterdam)
Saskia Janssen (b. 1968, lives and works in Amsterdam)
Carey Young (b. 1970, lives and works in London)

Social Sculpture brings together three artists of the same generation whose works explore in different ways the (im)possibility of the political. Drawing upon strategies of representation derived from, or alluding to, documentary formats and performative practices, their works reflect a certain scepticism as to the ability of words and images to convincingly convey political ideals. The awkwardness or, in Martha Rosler’s terms, ‘inadequacy’ with which words and images describe specific situations is here sharpened by juxtapositions that suggest the collapse of political idealism. Jean-Baptiste Ganne’s series of photographs aim at illustrating chapter headings of the book one of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital with documentary images of everyday life. His enterprise evokes both an ingenuous desire to see if Marx’s analysis of industrial society still holds true today, and the inevitable discrepancy between past and present, theory and reality. The result, Le Capital Illustré foregrounds the awkward relation between image and text: neither one quite lives up to the expectations aroused by the other. Images and words are put to the test, drained, as if to see how long they could carry on being meaningful. Carey Young’s reworking of Joseph Beuys’ concept of social sculpture, transforming his rolls of felt into a roll of beige office carpeting entitled Social Sculpture, looks back to a time where art and politics could be one, and seems imbued with bittersweet irony and humour. Saskia Janssen’s video and photography installation Smoke, Smog and Fortune, puts into practice the ambivalence of political action and social engagement. Overturning market laws by paying workers to be idle, she portrays a group of Ukrainian men, an invisible workforce in the Czech republic, resting on their workplace, asleep in the green paradise of the park surrounding Brno’s House of the Arts.

Sophie Berrebi is an art historian, curator and lecturer in the history and theory of Photography at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

Sophie Berrebi’s homepage

Exhibition: 21/05/05 – 09/07/05

Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
Rozengracht 207A
1016 LZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands