Württembergischer Kunstverein

The Beast and is the Sovereign

17 Oct 2015 - 17 Jan 2016

Ines Doujak
Not Dressed for Conquering / HC 04Transport, seit 2010
(Ausstellungsansicht MACBA
17 October 2015 – 17 January 2016

Curators: Hans D. Christ, Iris Dressler, Paul B. Preciado, Valentín Roma

Efrén Álvarez, Daniel G. Andújar / Itziar González, Hicham Benohoud, Ángela Bonadíes / Juan José Olavarría, Peggy Buth, Ines Doujak, Juan Downey, Edgar Endress, Oier Etxeberria, Eiko Grimberg, Masist Gül (präsentiert von Banu Cennetoglu und Philippine Hoegen), Ghasem Hajizadeh, Jan Peter Hammer, Geumhyung Jeong, Alexander Kluge, Julia Montilla, Ocaña, Damir Ocko, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Ulrike Ottinger, Prabhakar Pachpute, Mary Reid Kelley / Patrick Kelley, Jorge Ribalta, Wu Tsang, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Viktor Vorobyev / Yelena Vorobyeva

The beast and [et] the sovereign, the beast is [est] the sovereign, that’s how our couple seems first to show up, a couple, a duo or even a duel, but also an alliance, almost a hymen . . .
Jacques Derrida

The exhibition "The Beast and is the Sovereign", running from October 17, 2015, to January 17, 2016, at the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart, explores constructions of the political sovereign in Western traditions of thought. The focus here is placed on artistic practices that challenge, reverse, or eliminate sovereignty—as brought to bear in concepts of the sacred, the nation-state, modern institutions, humanism, virility, or the unscathed, (hetero)normative body.

The exhibition takes its name from the last seminar conducted by Jacques Derrida in 2002–03, in which the French philosopher analyzes the limits of political sovereignty in the Western tradition. For Derrida, the beast and the sovereign embody the two allegorical figures in politics that have historically existed outside of the law: the beast that is supposedly ignorant of the law and the sovereign whose power is defined precisely by the capacity to suspend the law.

This ontotheological division gives rise to a series of binary oppositions of gender, class, species, sexuality, race, and disability that structure relations of dominance. On the one hand, the beast is regarded as animality, nature, femininity, the South, the slave, the colonial site, illness, the non-white subject, the abnormal. On the other, the sovereign represents the human or even the superhuman, God, the State, masculinity, the North, health, the white and sexually “normal” subject.

In this order, the figure of the beast is not only the counterpart of the sovereign; the beast also clings to the sovereign as if to a dancing partner. The beast is indeed also the sovereign, as Derrida emphasizes by citing a French play on words: et (and) and est (is). Are not our myths—from fables to science fiction, from the sirens to the werewolf—full of hybrids between human and animal? And has not an excess of power concentration always led to a bestial abuse of power? A man is a wolf to another man, as it has been said since the time of Plautus. The exhibition highlights artistic practices that challenge and repudiate existing concepts and potencies of the sovereign. Is sovereignty possible beyond power? Can sovereignty occur by questioning these relations of dominance?

The Beast and is the Sovereign brings together the work of about thirty contemporary artists and is structured around four core concepts:
– The sacred and the inappropriate use of the sacred
– Economies of debt / sacrifice and alternative economies
– Dissident bodies: against the orders of species, gender, sexuality, normativity, health, etc.
– Modern institutions in the throes of crisis, critique, dissolution, and redetermination

Tags: Banu Cennetoglu