Curated by: Maja and Reuben Fowkes
Participating artists: Zbyněk Baladrán, Adam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Siniša Labrović, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek Simon, Péter Szabó and Katarina Šević.
Prlja presented a installation Strike.
Loophole to Happiness sets out to locate and explore the freedom-enhancing loopholes that exist on the margins of repressive social systems from East European communism to global capitalism. Faced with the perfection of techniques of absorbing criticism and the systematic mobilisation of our creativity, sociability and sentiments for economic ends, the search is on for new forms of resistance to the endless pressure of production. The exhibition takes the inventive strategies of worker resistance under communism as the starting point for fresh attempts to imagine exceptions, find escape routes and evade the smooth surface of today’s neo-liberal capitalist order.
The title of the show comes from the cult book A Worker in a Worker’s State by Hungarian dissident Miklos Haraszti, which deals with the exploitative working conditions and bold acts of worker resistance he witnessed during his time at the Red Star Tractor Factory in the early 1970s. He describes the practice of making ‘homers’ – objects crafted by the worker in defiance of regulations – as an outlet for creativity and agency that disrupted the monotony of factory life and challenged the exploitative system of piece-rates. The sociable creativity involved in the making of homers can be contrasted with the post-Fordist situation, in which creative urges are siphoned back into the economic cycle and emotional energy is channelled into competitiveness at work.
The exhibition brings together works which consider the adaption of the lived environment to the demand for continuous connectivity and the economic mobilisation of human affectivity, while proposing modes, attitudes and lifestyles that liberate time for enjoyment, travel and learning. Escape routes from the rules and rationale of the contemporary social and economic order are discovered in unexpected places, from painterly evocations of social celebrations during communism, to meditations on the freedom of play in public spaces. The aspiration for happiness and self-fulfilment is contrasted with the mental pollution emanating from information overload, while other works focus on attempts to revive non-capitalistic forms of knowledge and promote uneconomic attitudes in human relations.
The T-shirt slogan is:
The writings on the t-shirts refer to the Black Wave cinema movement in ex-Yugoslavia in the late 1960s, – which was an expression of freedom under socialism, as well as (for myself, at least) a representation of ‘communism with the possibility of self-criticism and freedom’. With this ‘Black Communism’ slogan, I am interested in searching and finding new political/social systems.
1. Praha, Futura, Center for Contemporary Art
2. Budapest, Trafo gallery
3. Lodz, Muzeum SZtuki
4. Bratislava, AMT Projects
Book about the exhibition
About the book: Loophole to Happiness reassesses the left critique of socialism through the work of dissident theorists and artists, reviving the spirit and working methods of the neo-avant-garde to suggest contemporary routes to escape the smooth surface of capitalism.
Contributors: Zbyněk Baladrán, Franco Bifo Berardi, Adam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Maja & Reuben Fowkes, Miklós Haraszti, Siniša Labrović, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek Simon, Péter Szabó, Tamás St.Auby and Katarina Šević.
Bibliography and Press coverage: