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 incompetent. 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.
Babeworld (Ashleigh Williams), 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 Snell