Zeitgeist is an exhibition commenting on human nature and the juxtaposed consequences that come from the decisions we make, based on individual and mass morals and values. Which rely on our environments, information, and experiences.
In the spirit of this age, art is a link to emotion. Expression is the definition of what people feel. The world around us forms different cultures, and on a more intimate level, individual personalities. The same could be said for art. What people originally used to record the past, inspired by the events that formed what is now the known world, evolved into visual pleasure and decoration, which in turn became a means to convey a message. However, art is a message received not only through the eyes, but also with an understanding of emotion. 20th century art was the climax in expressionism of the new age. Shock value and nonsensical imagery became a way to communicate the complexity of life, but not without balance. Robert Rauschenberg’s work indicates just that. He believed in using relatable imagery such as chairs, architecture, and lower class environments, along with household materials including, but not limited to, cardboard and rags, throughout his work to communicate a common theme found throughout art history. Rauschenberg ‘s work is about finding balance and continuing in times of struggle. That message was, and is still, understood on a mass and miniscule scale. Entire countries can feel the devastation of war through shared economies, governments and religions; yet the same effects of conflict are unique to an individual’s day- to- day life. Through his art, Rauschenberg showed an understanding of human nature, one that will continue to be a narration for as long as conflict lives.
The other artists that were chosen for this exhibition complement Rauschenberg’s work with their use of striking visual metaphors. For example, Alicja Kwade’s Double Fortune paints an obvious picture of brokenness, producing an uncomfortably well-known feeling shown in the simplest way. In the same manner, Kwade comments on the uncontrollable nature of time with the piece Gegen den Lauf. The name itself translates in English as “Against the Run,” and when applied to the imagery of the upside down clock, the piece paints a vivid picture of how small an impact our short time will have on a universal scale. That being said, the concept ties into the juxtaposition of Rauschenberg’s work well. For as much as we worry and as often as we anger, it would only make sense for the human race to matter more than it does. Reality calls from the back of consciousness to understand the speed of time for what it is, and not what we make it to seem. A fire burns from within to live for what you love, to respect what nature provides for our survival, to coexist peacefully with one another, and to appreciate the beauty of living life to the fullest.