Current Exhibition

Altered States. Substances in Contemporary Art

March 04, 2018 - May 21, 2018

People have always consumed substances for other purposes than nutrition – for medical reasons, for ecstasy, to expand the consciousness, in religious rituals, for self-optimization, out of protest or boredom. Historically the reason for the consumption of one and the same substance has varied and with it its societal meaning. In the 1930s ‘Pervitin’ was considered a miracle cure for all different kinds of diseases, while methamphetamine is forbidden nowadays. Formally exclusively used as an animal narcotic Ketamin is not only one of the most popular party drugs but is also increasingly used in the treatment of clinical depression. While girls can choose to take birth control pills for better skin, the LGBTQI-community is fighting a global struggle for the legal access to hormones.

The changing categorization of a substance as a pharmaceutical, drug, hormone or doping agent suggests that this differentiation is lesser linked to the effects or dangers of a substance. Hiding behind that you find a social history shaped by questions of race, gender, class and economic interests. As an inheritance of the 19th and 20th century the discourse is still heavily driven by power structures and taboos. The omnipresence of substances forces us not only to question but to consider a revision of the societal approach towards substances.

Image: Jeremy Shaw "Introduction to The Memory Personality", 2012
one-channel video installation with original soundtrack
dimensions variable, 12:10 minute
Courtesy the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE

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