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Bildschirm an der Wand
source: Jens Franke

The project cycle GOSSIP addresses everyday, seemingly banal actions that create, evade, or oppose in:visibilities. Gossip implies the proliferation and falsification of everyday information; and is thereby dismissed as flimsy or illegitimate as much as it is in high demand. In a digitalized world, gossip gains relevance when the circulation of images, content, and information influences political decisions, establishes economic relations or regulates social connections. Gossip creates the public sphere(s) and manipulates (power) relations – and is thus not only an important strategy for maintaining the prevailing orders, but can also be used to undermine them, in the sense of so-called counter-narratives of marginalized groups. If gossip, especially online gossip, is a means of shaping community and the public sphere, how can this means be placed in an institutional context – and thus change, negotiate, interrupt, and critically reflect modes of presentation and narration?

Hasn’t everybody heard? From hearsay, just between you and me? Gossip is, in principle, nothing more than what everyone talks about but no one can verify. It is what everyone wants to know but no one calls a fact, what everyone passes on but no one has said. Gossip is banal – and had gone viral before going viral was invented. However, it is not something timeless, but a concept with historical and political connotations. The English word gossip originally referred to a close friend. It was only with the advent of modernity that its meaning was changed to specifically denigrate solidarity among women as unserious gossip. This was accompanied by the devaluation of women’s labour, as described by philosopher Silvia Federici. Their labour could be used uncompensated in the emerging capitalism; at home, beyond the sphere marked as public and governed by men.

As mundane and incidental as gossip may seem, it is in reality a powerful force. Unlike information – the official news – gossip does not come into effect as a single message but as a chain of communication. It is ephemeral, networked and never fully tangible. This also makes counterpublics possible, which are used by feminist, queer and marginalised groups in particular as a form of empowerment. But how can this invisible form of action be made visible in an exhibition?

GOSSIP puts the political and poetic potential of trivial moments of contact centre stage. As the finale of the eponymous project cycle, the exhibition brings together artistic perspectives that focus on the subliminal power of gossip, implicitly questioning their own status as exhibition objects. They highlight moments of intimacy, institutionalisation and the embodiment of assumptions that seem to be socially fixed – some of them with direct reference, others as an indirect resonance to a networked world.

With generous support from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Schleswig-Holstein and the programme Neustart Kultur of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

When? Where?
26 September - 31 October 2021
M.1 / Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung
Breite Straße 18
25551 Hohenlockstedt

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