press release

Getting Even: Oppositions + Dialogues in Contemporary Art is an exhibition that explores the exchange of different social and political viewpoints that exist in society. Through works from the 1960s to the present day, the selected artists use various media to refer to protest, political activism, and other strategies of opposition and dialogue.

References to protests and political activism feature prominently in the exhibition. Artists such as Nina Beier & Marie Lund, Alex Morrison, and Jens Ullrich develop references to protest and political activism to question the effectiveness and historical legacy of these modes of opposition. In Jens Ullrich's Plakate series, the artist has reworked press photographs of protests from across the world, manipulating each placard and banner with an abstract graphic motif of the artist's own design. In these works, the communication of protest becomes impossible to decipher, but some message continues to survive, conveyed in the protesters’ physical expression and visible sense of engagement.

The exhibition also explores strategies of participation, inviting visitors to discover and create conflicting relationships of their own by engaging with the works directly. In Stephen Willats' Organic Exercise No.1 Series 2 , visitors are invited to re-configure a set of plaster bricks on a grid, without prior rules or instructions. The work therefore becomes everchanging and subject to the alteration of each participant. Visitors are also invited to participate in Mark Clare's Ping- Pong Diplomacy - a functioning table-tennis table made of pallet-wood; a work that references the famous contest between American and Chinese players in 1971 which acted as a breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Over the last fifty years, artists have deliberately sought social and political engagement through their work, both inside and outside the gallery space. During the 1960s, many artists rejected the traditional structures of the art world, in an attempt to align themselves with the radical protests of the time. Artists were often interested in using their art, less as a representation of politics, and more as a tool for addressing politics directly. Despite this attempt to circumvent the art world, even the most politically-orientated art found itself back in the gallery space and subject to art historical interpretation; sometimes compromising the intended issues that the artist hoped to raise.

Getting Even identifies artists that rethink the possibilities for social and political engagement through their work. Often employing abstract and indirect means, the selected artists are interested in renewing art's relationship to society in all its complexity. The culture sphere, and the gallery space in particular, offers an opportunity for artists to explore conflicting perspectives without there being a need for resolution or agreement.

Artists: Francis Alys, Nina Beier and Marie Lund, Mark Clare, Nathan Coley, Claire Fontaine, Liam Gillick, Alex Morrison, Garrett Phelan, Jens Ullrich, Stephen Willats, Carey Young, Artur Zmijewski

The exhibition will tour to the Kunstverein Hannover 30 May – 2 August 2009.

Getting Even
Oppositions + Dialogues in Contemporary Art
Kuratoren: Matt Packer, Rene Zechlin

Künstler: Artists: Francis Alÿs, Nina Beier & Marie Lund, Mark Clare, Nathan Coley, CLAIRE FONTAINE , Liam Gillick, Alex Morrison, Garrett Phelan, Jens Ullrich, Stephen Willats, Carey Young, Artur Zmijewski

14.11.08 - 01.03.09 Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork
30.05.09 - 02.08.09 Kunstverein Hannover