The year 2020 was devastating, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the many other crises happening across the globe. In such a situation, museums and galleries remained closed most of the time and they have refocused on virtual tours and exhibitions. Nevertheless, the leading ones managed to remain focused on rendering their programs whether in terms of the current pandemic, the racial and labor issues or the omnipresent enforcement of the Right, etc.
After their 100% Women exhibition program that ended in March 2020, the London-based Richard Saltoun Gallery is about to launch a new year-long program in 2021, focused on one of the most relevant philosophers of the 20th century, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), to question the contemporary notion of identity and inequality. In doing so, the gallery maintains a concise agenda aimed to underline the relevance of politics behind the practices of Feminist and Conceptual artists, particularly from the 1970s.
The program titled On Hannah Arendt: Eight Proposals for Exhibition tends to overview the philosopher’s grand oeuvre and accentuate the continuity of problematic political patterns that frame the contemporaneity. Her thesis about the banality of evil or highly influential books such as The Origins of Totalitarianism are still hugely relevant today.
The exhibition title refers to the chapter Eight Exercises in Political Thought from the 1968 book Between Past and Future that proposed the readers not to follow the provided answers but rather to acquire experience in how to think. To follow this proposition, the selected artists will suggest or interpret Arendt's ideas in a way to question the common attitudes and preconceptions we have regarding issues of freedom, agency, spirituality, exile, and prejudice.
The program will include eight exhibitions and over 20 international artists including the ones represented by Richard Saltoun. Under the title The Modern Age, the inaugural exhibition will bring an emphasis on the themes of social alienation, dislocation, and statelessness with the selection of works by Siah Armajani, Thomas Bayrle, Véronique Filozof, Vivienne Koorland, and Jo Spence.
Then, the gallery will host a solo exhibition by Peter Kennard, Concept of History, to overview the artist's outstanding contribution to politically charged art in the past five decades.
In April, on display will be a group exhibition called What is Authority? that will shed a light on the contemporary modes of exclusion and everyday discrimination through works by Lili Dujourie, Everlyn Nicodemus, and Lerato Shadi.
A solo exhibition of Israeli artist Bracha L. Ettinger scheduled for June will examine Arendt’s question What is Freedom? in terms of the tragic fate of women throughout the wars; the artist will present paintings and drawings made during the last seven years around the themes of trauma and compassion.
Alongside physical exhibitions, the gallery’s website will feature a new sound piece by Brazilian sound artist and music producer Laima. Titled Infinite past, infinite future and NOW, it will respond to each chapter of Arendt’s Between Past and Future, while examining the concepts such as time, culture, truth, and spirituality.
Numerous discursive contents and an online discussion series made in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities (Bard College) will accompany the exhibitions.
The details regarding the second half of the year-long program are about to be announced.
On Hannah Arendt: Eight Proposals for Exhibition will be on display at Richard Saltoun Gallery until 31 December 2021.
Featured image: Siah Armajani - Gazebo for Two Anarchists: Emilio Coda and Richard Henry Dana, 1991. Stained balsa wood, 30.5 x 59.7 x 24 cm. Image courtesy Rossi & Rossi and the artist
London, United Kingdom