Kevin Space is pleased to present High Horse, a solo exhibition by Berlin-based artist Angharad Williams, comprising an installation of new paintings as well as video and sculptural work.
To “get off your high horse” is to let go of a position of superiority and self-righteous claims to truth over other perspectives. The title of this exhibition presupposes a contemporary condition wherein complex and systemic social imbalances are met both with pathological individualism as well as simplified narratives and binary world views of good and bad, right and wrong, friend and foe.
High Horse is a naive presumption and a bold proposition. It presents an attempt to instigate an alternative architecture to the art space that ponders on the possibility of art to be a positive social relation rather than a negative social materiality of consumption. To bring the matter to the head: Can painting’s, can art’s, negative space be filled up with radical love that thwarts cynical beliefs in a closed-off system fueled by self-interests?
Seventeen canvases in three different sizes are painted in acrylic with the word “LOVE”. The word is identical in scale and painted in an alternating sequence of five colors. The paintings not only cover the main walls but create physical partitions over the windows and doors of the three exhibition spaces. In their endless repetition, the letters - a spell, a mantra, a corporate design, a mere signifier - are rendered emptied out shells as if to be revived with possible new meanings.
As with romance, and aesthetic experiences, too, unconditional love does not stem from a desire to own and thus to commodify, consume and control. It excels the transformation of a libidinal lack into a product that projects back to us. Power (capital) presupposes boxes and labels to keep each other in check. In radical love, however, the other is recognized in their insurmountable difference.
Williams candidly attempts to unlock the potential of a social value of love and aesthetic experience beyond subjective projections and fetishizations: beyond claims to power or self-subjugation and towards an infinite reciprocal process of recognition. The question remains open like a wound: Can art, in a neoliberal art world order (that relies on free emotional, social, immaterial and physical work, wherein the discrepancies between labor and value are gaping and where structural, socio-economic insufficiencies are read as individual failures) perform as a source of solidarity and care?
The video work Nature is nature is nature but it’s also much more depending on your perspective is a diaristic account in the form of thousands of photographs taken by the artist in a point-and-shoot fashion. Following an inner logic Williams recorded places and situations in Berlin, Mönchengladbach, her journey to Austria, as well as scenes in Vienna, that triggered an understanding of “nature”. Similar to the concept of love, the meaning of nature too is up for grasp. What would it take to undo the history of dominance when the means of emancipation (love, nature, art) are corrupted by a capitalist organisation?
Angharad Williams lives in Berlin and Wales. Recent solo projects, group exhibitions and performances took place at Swiss Institute in New York (2021), KW Institut für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Berlin; Stadtgalerie Bern, Bern; Kunstverein München, Munich (all 2020); Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen; ICA, London (both 2019); and Cell Projects in London and Liszt, Berlin (both 2018).
With special thanks to Billy, PINA and Sophie.