International exhibitions

International 2011 Archives

Animism, Modernity through the Looking Glass
Generali Foundation, Vienna (Austria)

16.09.2011 - 29.01.2012

07.09 - 25.11.2012

Précédent Suivant


Press release by E-Flux

Animism. Modernity through the Looking Glass takes up the current broad-based reassessment of modernity, examining the ethnological conception of animism as it was framed in the context of colonialism as well as the concept of animism in psychoanalysis. In Vienna, the city of Sigmund Freud, one focus of the exhibition is on aesthetic approaches that subject the distinction between the psychological "inside" world and the material "outside" world to critical scrutiny.

The "old" animism—modernity's vanishing point
By the end of the nineteenth century, animism is defined as a set of superstitious beliefs, as a "projection" and misapprehension of reality in which the "primitive mind" populates the world with souls and spirits, endowing things and nature with life, agency, and subjecthood. At the height of European colonialism, animism becomes the quintessence of civilization's opposite. To be modern meant to leave animism behind and to separate the world in accordance with the dualist divides that have been in effect since Descartes: soul and body, mind and matter.

The "new" animism - a reactivation
In the context of a critique of the dualisms and static categories of modernity, anthropologists have recently begun to reassess animism. Avoiding Western notions of what "life," "soul," "self," "nature," "supernatural forces," or "belief" are, can we understand animism as a practice that revolves around different experiences of the relations between subject and object? In light of current ecological, technological, and biopolitical developments, finding novel ways to rethink the boundaries between nature and culture, between human and non-human (nature, technology), between psyche and outside world, and between life and non-life represents an urgent political challenge.

Scenes of an exhibition - lines of demarcation, thresholds, transitions
The exhibition negotiates these boundaries along aesthetic processes in which the museum, as an objectifying and mummifying apparatus, comes under critical scrutiny as well.

The many works in the exhibition use a variety of media and heterogeneous strategies to trace lines of demarcation, thresholds, and transitions across the canonical divisions, displacing, exaggerating, and transforming them. Animism. Modernity through the Looking Glass suggests a revision and decolonization of not only our traditional understanding of animism but also the modern imaginary it articulates.

Exhibition September 16, 2011 - January 26, 2012. Generali Foundation, Wiedner Hauptstrasse 15 - 1040 Vienna, Austria. T +43 1 504 98 80. Opening hours: Tue–Sun, public holidays 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Thu to 8 p.m.

Animism, Modernity through the Looking Glass, Generali Foundation, Vienna

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved

The artists : Agency, Marcel Broodthaers, Adam Curtis, Didier Demorcy, Walt Disney, Jimmie Durham, Eric Duvivier/Henri Michaux, Thomas Alva Edison, León Ferrari, Walon Green, Victor Grippo, Candida Höfer, Luis Jacob, Ken Jacobs, Joachim Koester, Yayoi Kusama, Maxim Komar-Myshkin/Roee Rosen, Len Lye, Chris Marker/Alain Resnais, Daria Martin, Angela Melitopoulos/Maurizio Lazzarato, Ana Mendieta, Vincent Monnikendam, Jean Painlevé, Hans Richter, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Maria Eichhorn, Richard Hamilton, Ann Veronica Janssens, Willem Oorebeek, Karthik Pandian and Mathias Poledna, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Heimo Zobernig.

Concept: Anselm Franke
Curators: Anselm Franke with Sabine Folie

Animism is a collaboration between: Extra City – Kunsthal Antwerpen, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA), Kunsthalle Bern, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and Freie Universität Berlin.