Design & Development
Artists: Thilo Jenssen, Hannah Jean Boone
Curated by Alexandra-Maria Toth
Invited by Stefan Reiterer as part of the independent exhibition programme Pappenheimgasse 37
Exhibition Space: New Jörg, Jägerstrasse 56, 1200 Vienna/Austria
Duration: 15.02.2019 – 22.02.2019
The sound a dog makes when a playful park tussle turns violent; the paparazzi shots of Charles Saatchi with his hands around Nigella Lawson’s neck at an elegant London restaurant; the phrase “intimate terrorism”; the phrase “a playful tiff”; the paparazzo responsible for the shots telling an interviewer: “I thought Charles was demonstrating something”; Michelle Obama explaining to a roomful of British students that “good relationships feel good. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful”; 90% of love songs; Adele; the lyrics “Come on girl now it's you/Sink your teeth right through my bones, baby/Let's see what we can do”; the lyrics “I like it, but it hurts”; flossing; pinching yourself to stay awake; that humans sometimes cry when they laugh; crying because you’re angry; punching a hole in a wall; being touched too gently; not being touched at all; Beyoncé (reportedly) being bitten by an unnamed actress at a party in LA; Sanaa Lathan writing on Twitter, " Y'all are funny. Under no circumstances did I bite Beyoncé and if I did it would've been a love bite"; love bites; Jim Acosta mic grab intern; the who-‐touched-‐ who-‐first debate; doctored videos; deep fakes; mistakes and misunderstandings; consent; every time a man uses the “rough sex” defence against rape allegations; when play fighting gets out of hand; 30% of those who survive CPR waking up with a cracked sternum and/or broken rib; putting your entire hand in a turkey; Return of the Serial Killer: How Psychosexual Male Panic is Infecting Pop Culture; violence; affection; violent affection; playground crushes; sibling abuse; the fact that so many classical paintings look like the scenes just before or just after an orgy; squeezing your lover’s ear lobes between your thumb and forefinger; the difference between good touch and bad touch; how many times touching someone for a millisecond too long has revealed an affair.
Artists: Thilo Jenssen and Matthias Esch
Exhibition Space: New Now, Schwedlerstraße 1-5, 60314 Frankfurt am Main/Germany
Duration: 15.02.2019 – 22.02.2019
Just west of the Atlantic Ocean, through the Palm Beach inlet in an alcove off of Riviera Beach, Florida, there is a man made lagoon recently built to hold the hundreds, if not thousands, of manatees that, as part of their yearly migration, cluster each winter in the warm water outside of the Florida Power And Light (FPL) energy center. The water in this lagoon is unusually warm because it is sucked up and circulated through a series of turbines in order to cool the power plant and then pushed back out into the Lake Worth Lagoon. For the last 35 years the FPL energy complex and the manatees have been in close contact with one another. They congregate around the facility during stints of consistent drops in water temperature, especially in the winter. The accommodation of the manatees and the branding of ‘Manatee Lagoon’ – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center™ - was, like most things in the fervently developed urban-sprawl ridden South Florida, introduced quickly in 2016, with little to no discussion of the ramifications of dependency, or the possible negative side effects to the ecosystem as a result of the pockets of warm water, let alone the environmental implications of the power plant at large. Instead the focus was on how beautiful the views of the crystal clear water packed with manatees were from on top the observation decks, or the yoga classes, or environmental and scientific courses teaching people about the local environments which, according to the FPL website, hopes to “inspire communities to preserve and protect Florida’s environment and wildlife for future generations.”
Initially setting out to cite this example to begin this essay, I thought I had my position figured out; this situation, the lookout deck, the eco-facility, was all a decoy, masking the true activities and evils of FPL, which disregarded the environment and used this initiative to green-wash their image. But while writing I found myself warming up to this as a prospect, to the Eco-Discovery Center™. It’s not that I don’t think they are green-washing or that I was duped and started to believe that all the eco-rhetoric about the way the architecture was designed and thought that type of building was enough to restore the planet and to offset emissions, or for that matter, that I am under any illusion that human impact on the environment is nothing short of catastrophic, (only to worsen over the next few years in the US with elected officials, let alone a president who adamantly denies climate change), but what I did see was just how complicated this example actually was, and how much more valuable a critique is that allows for subtlety, and accounts for some positive aspects that may have already be attained, an analysis that might have built-in contradictions. If I do believe this divide between natural and non-natural is an irrelevant classification, (as humans are natural and exist as and with nature, especially under the epoch of the Anthropocene, which this instance is a prime example of, where the waters, and thus the habitat, are forever changed as a result of human presence), then this example is not much different in tangible terms from a remote island in British Overseas Territory of South Georgia in the South Atlantic that hosts flocks of penguins that warm themselves on the output of a volcano. Nira Yuval Davis, in her text Politics of Belonging, speaks of ‘Conviviality’ . In the context of her being a sociologist, Professor and the Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London, she is referring to the cohabitation of people from different backgrounds finding ways of living together peacefully (she goes on to explain how this conviviality is something increasingly under threat with the rise of right-wing populism which, repeatedly through racist and xenophobic propaganda seeks to undermine the very notion of a pluralist society, by intentionally turning people against one another). In the instances where conviviality (living together) works, even momentarily, it can be incredible. Could this logic not be applied to the relationship between the company and the public vis-a-vis this facility and the warm manatees? Could we not celebrate the courses on manatee, sea life and ecological awareness, boating safety discussions helping to prevent propeller damage to the manatees backs, or daily children's activities and classes all of which are free of charge? Could these instances be shining examples of conviviality? Are these not examples of the capacities one has to be giving and to host something else?
Occasionally when you turn the radio up to drown out the sound of the neighbors arguing and your favorite song comes on, and it’s not that you don’t want them to stop fighting, but you might still enjoy the song, all to say there are layers of complexity that make it difficult to be so decisive about morality, and it’s useful to have sites to contemplate this predicament, time to listen to the song, or to watch the manatees. Maybe after studying the figures in the recovery position and addressing them with his paintings, Thilo Jenssen might be the perfect candidate to save someone later on. And maybe the fluorescent yellow color field painting, color sampled from the field of mustard flowers is really just a site for us to contemplate how fucking unbelievable it is that those flowers, in that color, actually exist, and at the very same time we do. Willinghausen Artist Residency was founded by a painter who was wounded in battle and thus was inevitably slower in his process as a result, and maybe when the gravestone fell breaking Thilo’s leg just before he arrived this was the perfect opportunity, slowing him down enough where he too, like the manatees, could stare at the sun, and feel the warmth.
Artist: Thilo Jenssen
Exhibition Space: König2, Magaretenstraße 5, 1040 Vienna/Austria
Duration: 22.06.2017 – 09.09.2017
I am too late
I am too late
let’s check on Facebook
so many things to do
being a busy bee
to-do-lists are my self-center
everybody wants to work with me
totally paralyzed by my
!94 mails in my inbox
don’t know how to handle
all e-flux newsletters
just give me one second
again a never final version
pressure – it’s a lifestyle
back on track
positioned as a saved draft!
The ‘If-then’ logic provides a structure for all rituals – this, together with fixed rules that we follow as if on autopilot. Intensity and duration is not crucial here, regardless of whether it’s mystical full-moon dancing or an early-morning cup of coffee. We allow ourselves to be controlled and often like to follow the rhythmic sequence. Devout participation helps your ideas drift, while bringing feelings into a predictable context. The ritual as the DNA plan of our identity and an all-purpose weapon against daily madness. So head off, hold me tight and bring me home in one piece.
Even creative or artistic production finds orientation in rituals. Daily reading sessions, working through e-mails, the choreography of opening visits, escalation and withdrawal. And beforehand the constant laboring towards dead lines, often even towards several at the same time. Belligerent, warrior-like vocabulary that we systematically run through and see ourselves time and again confronted with the same thoughts if we are reluctant to cross the line.
Waiting until we are in the right mood to perform tasks. No idea what a beginning might look like. Experience shows we work best under pressure so we defer everything for later. Extreme postponement is a work-related disorder found especially in people who work autonomously and can only complete tasks under enormous time pressure. Welcome to the Procrasti Nation.
Perhaps the ritual of procrastination, too, can be understood more in the sense of mental waiting. A privileged moment of tranquility that we deliberately recharge our batteries, yielding more to the lust of listlessness.
Artists: Schirin Charlot, Daniel Ferstl, Diana Barbosa Gil, Luna Mae Heflin, Thilo Jenssen, Rade Petrasevic, Aline Sofie Rainer, Felix Schwentner, Ganica Stauz, Nino Stelzl, Philipp Zöhrer
Exhibition Space: Franziska-Löw-Park, 1020 Vienna/Austria
Design & Development