“Behind Facelessness” is the title of my new exhibition at Galleria Alfonso Artiaco in Napoli.
The exhibition will be constituted exclusively by “Pixel-Collage”, my most recent work. I am still working and completely engaged with the problematic of pixelation. After my exhibitions “Pixel-Collage” at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, “New Pixel-Collage” at Dvir Gallery, Tel-Aviv in 2016 and “Pixel-Collage” at Kunsthal Aarhus at the beginning of 2017, I wanted to continue developing the thematic of pixels. The new is my statement that “Pixel-Collage” is not a technique, not a system but a decision. Putting or removing each pixel - or even cutting it into smaller pixel parts - is a decision. It’s a political decision. In these “Pixel-Collage” I want to reinforce the aesthetical aspect with the beauty of the pixelated part in opposition to the non-pixelated part. The new of the “Pixel-Collage” also comes from my try to find, within the composition of each collage which serves as fundament, its very own logic as to what to pixelate and what to keep un-pixelated. The aim of “Behind Facelessness” is to focus on the non-systematic logic of the “Pixel-Collage”. Finally, with “Behind Facelessness” I want to insist, even heavily on what interests me strongly, passionately today and makes me work in a kind of urgency and necessity. I believe that ‘pixelation’ or blurring, masking and furthermore censorship or self-censorship, is a growing and insidious problematic, also in regard the new social medias. Obviously I don’t accept what has been pixelated in my place ‘to protect me’ and consequently don’t pixelate what is usually concealed and meant to be removed, frustrate, censor or make non-visible.
Therefore with “Behind Facelessness”, I want to show pixelation or blurring in its abstract aesthetic and question: How can abstraction be understood today? How can abstraction, through pixilation, engage me in today’s world, time and reality? How can I redefine my idea of abstraction today? I want to integrate the growing phenomena of facelessness in pictures today. What interests me specifically about this aesthetic of facelessness, is its formal embodiment through pixelation. This “Pixelation” phenomenon, more and more common in the media, shows us that, in order to be authentic, a picture needs to be pixelated or partly pixelated. Pixelating has taken over the role of authenticity. A pixelated picture is surely authentic if it has unacceptable areas which are concealed while the acceptable is not pixelated. It is interesting to observe that the use of pixels follows no common law at all. Partly pixelated pictures look even more authentic and are accepted as such by viewers. It therefore seems clear that pixels stand for authentication: Authentication through authority. And, in our chaotic, incommensurable, contradictory and complex world there is a huge demand for authority. Pixels deliver an aesthetic to this demand for authority, for protection and for de-responsabilization.
I understand abstraction as thinking, as political thinking. Pixels in their abstraction build up a new form, opening towards a dynamic and desire of truth, truth as such, truth as something reaching beyond information, non-information or counter-information. The point is to understand how an existing published picture can become an abstraction. It seems to me that - paradoxically - the authoritarian will to use pixelation in order to hide, to ‘protect’, not show, or not make something visible has, instead, become an invitation or possibility to touch truth. Truth through pixels, through their abstraction and the aesthetic of their abstraction. To touch truth does not mean verifying information, to touch truth is an act of emancipation. The political thinking and form of the “Pixel-Collage” is the belief in abstraction, and the belief in the aesthetic of pixelation.
“Pixel-Collage” are collages. Making a collage means pasting together existing elements of reality to create a new world that did not exist before. A collage requires at least two different elements brought together, but can be made with more. Therefore something new, a new world, a new image, a new light is conceived. This means giving a response - through Form - to the question “How can abstraction be understood today?” Form is not just an idea Form is essential, Form is crucial, Form is the core. I want to give Form, and in giving Form I must show what I see, what I understand, what comes from myself without explanation or argumentation. Nothing is un-showable. What cannot be shown is what has no form. Everything that is ‘form’ is showable and viewable - even when incommensurable. Everything that has a form in this incommensurable world must remain incommensurable, without an attempt of becoming commensurable from not being shown or keeping our eyes shut. In order to confront the world, to struggle with its chaos, its incommensurability, in order to coexist and to cooperate in this world and with the other, I need to confront reality without distance. It is necessary to distinguish ‘sensitivity’, which to me means being ‘awake’ and ‘attentive’, from ‘hypersensitivity’, which means ‘self-enclosure’ and ‘exclusion’. Today, more than ever, I need to see everything with my own eyes in our one world, and no one can tell me what my eyes should see or not.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, 2016-2017
Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern (Switzerland). He studied at the Schule für Gestaltung Zürich from 1978 to 1983 and moved to Paris in 1983, where he has been living since. His work is shown in numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions among which the Venice Biennale (1999 and 2015), Documenta11 (2002), 27th Sao Paolo Biennale (2006), 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburg (2008), the Swiss Pavillion, 54th Venice Biennale (2011), La Triennale at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012), 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012), Gladstone Gallery New York (2012), Manifesta 10 in Saint-Petersburg (2014), Atopolis Mons (2015) South London Gallery (2015) Center for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci, Prato (2016), Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark (2017) among others. Thomas Hirschhorn’s ‘Presence and Production’ projects include the "Gramsci Monument" in the Bronx, New York, 2013, “Flamme éternelle” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2014, the “Bijlmer Spinoza Festival”, Amsterdam, 2009, and “Sperr” at Wiesbaden Biennale 2016.A selection of his writings is published in English: "Critical Laboratory: The Writings of Thomas Hirschhorn", MIT Press (October Books), 2013 and in French: “Une volonté de faire, Thomas Hirschhorn” Macula, collection Les in-disciplinés-e-s, 2015. The book “Gramsci Monument” was published in 2015 by Dia and Koenig Books. With each exhibition in museums, galleries and alternative spaces, or with specific works in public space, Thomas Hirschhorn asserts his commitment toward a non-exclusive public. Thomas Hirschhorn has received awards and prizes, among which: “Preis für Junge Schweizer Kunst” (1999), “Prix Marcel Duchamp” (2000), "Rolandpreis für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum" (2003), “Joseph Beuys-Preis” (2004) and the “Kurt Schwitters-Preis” (2011).
The previous exhibitions at Galleria Alfonso Artiaco were ‘Plan B’ in 2003, ‘The Green Coffin’ in 2006 and ‘Break-through’ in 2013.