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no-longer-being-able-to-be-able began from an urge to think about a shared unease in an over-saturated contemporary life. The limitless productivity and growth encouraged by neoliberal ideology have redefined people as labourers who have to continue to able to work and consume in order to be able to be.
The title of the project refers to Byung-Chul Han’s The Burnout Society (2010), which interrogates contemporary life’s immanent excessive positivity and information. In such a society, everybody becomes an entrepreneur fully responsible for the outcomes of their ‘individual’ lives. In order to be responsible in this sense, people are so busy proving they are able to work, compete, consume and survive. It becomes hard to hold on and ask why we should be able to be able, and for the sake of whom.
The predominating fantasies of unlimited growth have rendered feelings of tiredness, anxiety and disorientation daunting and negative. They become symptoms of being fragile, defective and inc
ompetent. These ‘negativities’ have promoted the contemporary myths of health, care, safety and protection. The pandemic, once seen as a chance to suspend and contest these myths, is instead fuel for the continuation of ‘the normal' in both the art field and wider society.
In response to the neoliberal norm of being-able-to-be-able, no-longer-being-able-to-be-able explores the unease in excessive everyday life from the perspective of labourer, consumer, woman, Queer individual, ethnic minority, teenager, internet user, art worker and an exhausted ‘regular person’. By unpacking the culture of abundance and expansion, this project questions the meaning of be and being able that are underpinned by particular ideologies, powerholders and histories. The works presented in the project aim to explore the possible ways of recognition, articulation and interrogation amid overloaded, oversaturated, and overdrawn beings.
WARNING: no-longer-being-able-to-be-able to continue
no-longer-being-able-to-be-ableBabeworld, Meech Boakye, Joshua Citarella, DANK Collective (Grant Bingham, Tori Carr,
James D. Hopkins, Ian Williamson, and Zen Khalid), DIRD (Zijing Zhao and Rui Shi), Emma Finn, Anna Frijstein, Max Grau,
Mina Heydari-Waite, Sae Yeoun Hwang, Judit Kis, Simona Me. , Donatella Della Ratta, Frankie Roberts, Geraldine SnellBabeworld is a collaboration which aims to demystify the processes of creativity often kept elusive in an otherwise exclusive ‘art world.’ Focusing on themes of political and social identity, Babeworld’s exploration of disability, accessibility, mental health, sex work, and poverty has firmly grounded their practice in the corridors of the everyday.
Meech Boakyeis interested in the political potential of the uncanny. Their work uses frameworks of abjection, liminality and Édouard Glissant’s notion of the abyss to understand historical and contemporary conceptions of the uncanny, specifically in relation to Black, trans and cyborg beings.
DANK, formed at the height of the meme epidemic in 2016, is a group of young British artists that focus on the absurdity, humour, and violence of post-irony culture. The collective exists predominantly online, using its Instagram account to post degenerated images, memes, internet trash, and grotesque infotainment, unashamed of our millennial satire.
DIRD is an artist group formed by Zijing Zhao and Rui Shi in 2020. They work on creating stop-motion animations as folklore based on gender studies in mythology. Using the visual language stems from in subcultures, pop cultures and classical Eastern aesthetics, their practice unearths passages buried by historians and preachers: stories that happened to women, bloody, brutal, untold.
Joshua Citarella is a New York based artist whose work explores young political spaces online. He is the author of Politigram & the Post-left (2018) and 20 Interviews (2020). He is an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Emma Finn is an Irish artist/filmmaker who is currently a PhD candidate funded by LAHP at the Royal College of Art. Using moving image and other narrative devices, she shares misfires of transmissions and media between humans and nature and the surprisingly consistent links therein to animism and coincidence.
Anna Frijstein works between London, Cornwall and Amsterdam. Her practice includes performance, social experiments, video, drawing, flirts with the digital, and sculptural installation often executed with a candid childlike approach. Beneath the playful naivety lies an unsettling layer of dark humour that confronts suppressed feelings around current socio-psychological, political and ecological issues.
Max Grau lives and works in Berlin. His work incorporates a variety of media such as video, text, email, performance, photography, sound and printed matter. Grau’s work examines the politics of friendship, contemporary modes of communication and the emotional texture of everyday life.
Mina Heydari-Waite is an Iranian-British artist, researcher and facilitator. Her practice often creates imaginary settings to examine ideas of labour and agency. She also one half the collaborative duo Peel Eezy, a “pseudo-faux creative brand” she established with artist Gemma Crook in 2015. She is currently Lead Artist of Camelon Arts.
Sae Yeoun Hwang works in London and Seoul. She uses humour to diffuse the heaviness of the subject and explore its role as a defense mechanism. Her works function as visual stories, as the non-linear, non-singular narratives, which reflect micro and macro aspects of self and life itself.
Judit Kis is an intermedia artist based in Budapest and Berlin. Her video performances and virtual diaries reflect on the experiences and traumas that shape our identities, personal boundaries and behavioural patterns. Kis' recently received the ACAX - Leopold Bloom Art Award and will be spending three months at Residency Unlimited in New York.
Simona Me. is a loud, awkward Sagittarius, who grew up glued to the screen watching wacky cartoons. She is an independent animator based in London graduating from the Royal College of Art. She was awarded ‘Best New Talent’ for her film ‘DUO’ at the ‘BFI Future Film Festival’ in 2020.
Donatella Della Ratta is a writer specialising in media and visual cultures in Syria. She is the author of Shooting a Revolution (Pluto, 2018) and co-editor of Arab Media Moguls (IB Tauris, 2015). She is an associate professor of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University.
Frankie Roberts is an artist whose work spans performance, animation, music and installation. Her practice weaves new truths from handpicked fragments of our over-saturated human existence. Frankie has recently performed and exhibited at Alice Black Gallery, Primary in Nottingham, IMT Gallery and with performance group Plastique Fantastique.
Geraldine Snell uses moving image, performance, music, and the written word to navigate being with humour, nuance and awe. Her work is made for and adapted to both online and offline contexts. She is based in London and West Yorkshire, where she lectures in Fine Art.
Hang Li is a researcher, curator and designer based in London and Beijing. Her research focus is on the curatorial as regards network cultures, feminist theories and organisational approaches to social justice and structural change. She is a PhD student and a visiting mentor at the Royal College of Art.