Loophole to Happiness

Opening: 24. 5. 2011 from 6 p.m.

Exhibition dates: 25. 5.  2011 – 7. 8. 2011

Curated by: Maja and Reuben Fowkes

Participating artists: Zbyn?k Baladrán, Adam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Siniša Labrovi?, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek Simon, Péter Szabó and Katarina Ševi?.

Loophole to Happiness sets out to locate and explore the freedom-enhancing loopholes that exist on the margins of repressive social systems from East European communism to global capitalism. Faced with the perfection of techniques of absorbing criticism and the systematic mobilisation of our creativity, sociability and sentiments for economic ends, the search is on for new forms of resistance to the endless pressure of production. The exhibition takes the inventive strategies of worker resistance under communism as the starting point for fresh attempts to imagine exceptions, find escape routes and evade the smooth surface of today’s neo-liberal capitalist order.

The title of the show comes from the cult book A Worker in a Worker’s State by Hungarian dissident Miklos Haraszti, which deals with the exploitative working conditions and bold acts of worker resistance he witnessed during his time at the Red Star Tractor Factory in the early 1970s. He describes the practice of making ‘homers’ – objects crafted by the worker in defiance of regulations – as an outlet for creativity and agency that disrupted the monotony of factory life and challenged the exploitative system of piece-rates. The sociable creativity involved in the making of homers can be contrasted with the post-Fordist situation, in which creative urges are siphoned back into the economic cycle and emotional energy is channelled into competitiveness at work.

The exhibition brings together works which consider the adaption of the lived environment to the demand for continuous connectivity and the economic mobilisation of human affectivity, while proposing modes, attitudes and lifestyles that liberate time for enjoyment, travel and learning. Escape routes from the rules and rationale of the contemporary social and economic order are discovered in unexpected places, from painterly evocations of social celebrations during communism, to meditations on the freedom of play in public spaces. The aspiration for happiness and self-fulfilment is contrasted with the mental pollution emanating from information overload, while other works focus on attempts to revive non-capitalistic forms of knowledge and promote uneconomic attitudes in human relations.

For more details see: www.translocal.org/loophole/

This project is realised in partnership with Trafó House of Contemporary Arts Budapest, Muzeum Sztuki Lodz and AMT Project Bratislava and is supported by Visegrad Fund and European Cultural Foundation.