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Kunsthalle Zürich presents Julia Scher: Maximum Security Society and DYOR

October 8, 2022–January 15, 2023

Two shows at Kunsthalle Zürich explore the potential—both good and bad—of well-known and emerging communication technologies.

Maximum Security Society: Since the 1980s, Julia Scher has charted the sluggish development of a “maximum security society” (Gary T. Marx). Her first institutional survey brings together a collection of multimedia installations, video works, sculptures, print, and web projects spanning the past 30 years. In order to demonstrate how technology like video surveillance, picture recognition, and automated database queries have completely become banal and shape our daily world, Scher draws from and samples this variety of media. Scher’s works convey promises of security and comfort by imitating well-known surveillance scenarios. The new work at the Kunsthalle Zürich, Predictive Engineering (1993-present), explores with the idea that someone or something might be monitoring visitors—but why? What kind of protection (or threat) one could expect is uncertain given the mixture of actual and faked video material. The three beds Mama Bed, Papa Bed, and Baby Bed (all from 2003) are also included in Maximum Security Society, demonstrating how observation and communication (now called “sharing”) have crept into the most private areas of our life. The constellation Mama/Papa/Baby also alludes to another type of surveillance, namely that of the nuclear family and the normative conceptions that, as we are all too aware, are violently dominant in intimacy and sexuality.

Scher is known for numerous surveillance installations that address psycho-social dynamics and perversions. The formal, sculptural quality of her work is often overlooked, however. It is precisely this that the exhibition Maximum Security Society at Kunsthalle Zürich also aims to highlight, whether in works such as Girl Dog Hybrid (2005), Hidden Camera (Architectural Vagina) (1991-2018) or Surveillance Area (1994).

DYOR: A new art world first emerged a little over two years ago. It attracted a lot of interest despite ignoring the art establishment and being dripping with cash. A new technology (blockchain) served as the foundation for the new art world, which also had its own distribution network (Web3), unrestricted aesthetic ideas (evident through NFTs), digital currencies (crypto currencies), and spaces for discussion, criticism, and promotion (Discord channels and Twitter). There have been a lot of strong emotions to it, ranging from unrestrained enthusiasm to categorical rejection, from overly optimistic predictions to gloomy doomsday scenarios, from fascination with instantaneous wealth to condemnation of energy usage.

But in recent months, the appeal of this movement has grown more apparent. Blockchain appears to be here to stay and will be important for the music business. Despite the fact that the technology enables fresh types of engagement, NFTs could not take off. DAOs are the future—at least for the time being. The metaverse doesn’t actually function now and will be the next bubble. Many people are interested in learning more about this incredibly important, youthful, dynamic, paradoxical, exciting, challenging, creative, critical, and scrutinized field. Due to this, Kunsthalle Zürich has made the decision to put together one of the first-ever institutional exhibitions on art in relation to blockchain technology and NFTs.

Do your own research is a maxim popular in the cryptocurrency community. The guiding idea is to conduct your own research before you believe what you read. DYOR, curated by Nina Roehrs and including more than 50 artists, focuses on individuals, initiatives, and platforms that have significantly influenced the growth and current state of the crypto art community.

Kunsthalle Zürich
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zürich
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