A World of Wild Doubt

January 26 - April 14, 2013

Mike Kelley, Pansy Metal / Clovered Hoof, 1989, Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf Pascheit
Tessa Farmer, Butterfly, 2011Tessa Farmer, The Horde, 2013 (Detail), Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf PascheitAndreas Fischer, Der, der bis drei zählt, 2010, Courtesy Galerie Vera Gliem, Köln, Foto: Alred JansenMark Lombardi, Gerry Bull, Space Research and Armscor of Pretoria, South Africa c. 1972-80 (4th version), 1999, Privatbesitz Berlin, Copyright: The Estate of Mark LombardiGilbert & George, Dead Boards No.1, 1976, Privatbesitz HamburgGilbert & George, Dead Boards, 1976, Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf PascheitTony Oursler, Five Spot, 2012 (Detail), Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf PascheitSuzanne Treister, HEXEN 2.0. Historical Diagrams from ARPANET to DARWARS via the Internet, 2009, Courtesy of Annely Juda Fine Art, LondonMax Schulze, No Loitering, 2011/12 und Marten Schech, Drei Keile, ein Diamant, die Konche und der Staub, 2013, Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf Pascheit"A World of Wild Doubt", Wonderwall, Installationsansicht Kunstverein Hamburg, Foto: Olaf PascheitInstallationsansicht / installation view "A World of Wild Doubt", Kunstverein Hamburg 2013, Foto: Olaf PascheitOlaf Metzel, Wurfeisen und Zwille (Hafenstraße), 1990/92, Installationsansicht / installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg 2013, Foto: Olaf Pascheit

Anarchiks, Martin Assig, Thomas Bechinger, Tim Boxell, G. K. Chesterton, Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Jeremy Deller, Friedrich Einhoff, Will Elder, James Ensor, Tessa Farmer, Andreas Fischer, Jim Franklin, Gilbert & George, Rodney Graham, Bill Griffith, Rainer Hachfeld, Rand Holmes, Heino Jaeger, Horst Janssen, Mike Kelley, Hubert Kiecol, Jay Kinney, Denis Kitchen, Joachim Koester, Christof Kohlhöfer, David Lloyd, Mark Lombardi, Bobby London, Paul Mavrides, Cildo Meireles, Olaf Metzel, Norman Mingo, Wilhelm Mundt, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Sigmar Polke, Antonio Prohías, Matthias Recht, Marten Schech, Gregor Schneider, Max Schulze, Andreas Slominski, Rolf Stieger, Suzanne Treister, Félix Vallotton, Lawrence Weiner, Stephen Willats, Louis Zansky

The starting point of this exhibition is the novel The Man Who Was Thursday by British poet G. K. Chesterton from 1908. This mysterious crime story about a seven-headed anarchist council, which actually consists of spies from the London secret police, addresses a world in a permanent state of emergency. Yet in the end, the real danger emanates from artists and intellectuals. The text weaves an unsettling web out of surveillance and anxieties, takes unexpected metaphysical turns and ends in utter chaos. Nothing less than the question of what constitutes genuine anarchy is negotiated. Are the policemen who defend law and order the real anarchists? Is the law necessarily based on the act of its transgression?

However, "A World of Wild Doubt" is not so much an exhibition about The Man Who Was Thursday as it is a curatorial experiment with the novel. We are not interested in a scholarly interpretation; instead, visitors embark on a journey full of associations, historical and contemporary references, ambiguous moods as well as grotesque situations. For this purpose two artists build and design spaces that deal critically with scenographical architecture. The atmospheres conjured up in the book, ranging from discomfort to paranoia, resonate in many ways with the present. In a time when the German intelligence service enables assassinations by neo-Nazis, or criminal banksters loot globalised financial markets, political-philosophical ambiguity, as described by Chesterton with its causes and consequences, is as red-hot as the question of whether a system can be reformed from within or has to be detonated by a coming insurrection. Thus, "A World of Wild Doubt" fuses the scepticism of classical modernity towards absolute freedom with contemporary attitudes. Additionally, the show formulates a criticism of the dominance of neoliberal and plutocratic models of society. But The Man Who Was Thursday is also a defence of nonsense. And this denial of logic is taken very seriously, considering that the novel’s subtitle reads: A Nightmare. This pessimistic, anti-modernist tenor is countered by the liberating forces of artistic practices without being escapist. Bourgeois anxieties of revolts and the power of law guarded by (anarchist) policemen are questioned with British humour.

All of these areas are reflected upon and developed further by the participating artists. Some works are made especially for "A World of Wild Doubt"; other positions confirm the worst forebodings or formulate alternatives. Additionally, the so-called Wonderwall assembles diverse materials such as early anarchist pamphlets, punk records, books, comics, printed graphic works, and ephemera.

Visitors will receive a reprint of the German version of the novel; in March 2013 a catalogue will be published by Sternberg Press. The exhibition, together with accompanying talks and events, will provide impetus to develop alternative strategies and to discuss how the current crises can be faced, other than with resignation.

In September 2011 the Kunstverein Hamburg hosted a charity auction for the benefit of the institution. In addition to many works by artists who had exhibited at this venue in the past, a carte blanche for an exhibition was also raffled. This lot was aquired by Michael Liebelt, who, together with Dorothee Böhm, Petra Lange-Berndt and Dietmar Rübel, is curating "A World of Wild Doubt" in the ground floor space of the Kunstverein.