it is June and I am rejecting to work on the things that I should be working on until this semester is done. instead, I fantasize about three exhibitions showing the same artworks by people whose work I think other people should see and make out with someone at 5 am in the grass next to the Donau. I like when things are simple, but well made. when there is a subtle intelligence to them, when they make a clear point but it’s not on the surface, when they’re playful, humorous, not self-indulgent. maybe this feeling comes more strongly at me now after having visited the Venice Biennale two weeks ago and it sucked so much; and people were throwing the high tech and effects basically in your face. we leave Arsenale, we scream, and run. this is when aesthetic experience becomes so bodily that your emotions just burst out in a stream of uncontrollable physiological expressions. William James and Carl Lange suggested in 1884 that what we commonly refer to as the physiological expressions of emotions are in fact identical with emotions. the sweat in the palm of your hand is the excitement. 1
when Vernon Lee and her lover Kit at the beginning of the 20th century started thinking about the bodily and affective responses they observed with one another while looking at artworks („quick breaths, sensations of movement, muscular tensions“ 2 ), they conclude, that these effects were not in relation to the subjects depicted in the artworks, but merely about their form: lines, curves, rhythm. finally, they state a similar proposition compared to James’ and Lange’s: the experience of pleasure while looking at an artwork could be the effect, not the cause, of such bodily expressions. or: our physiological responses would constitute beauty and pleasure (or in our case revulsion) in the first place. one might think that there is something missing here, and I think it’s true: what about our internal psychological processes? after Kit and Lee were broken up, Lee revisited their writings. she comes to find that the bodily responses she had found so compelling in Kit were probably secondary expressions of an essentially mental phenomenon: „empathy“, or Einfühlung, as described in German aesthetic theory. when looking at an artwork we might come to say that it has ‚rhythm‘, because it reactivates memories of former movements our eyes have witnessed. this connection between bodily phenomena and the observation of artworks is drawn by Lee one more time: probably, we can never fully explain why we like one artwork and not another (and of course contemporary art comes along with a whole new evaluation system than what Lee and Kit were engaging with). also, there might be days on which we are moved by a work and remain untouched the next. Lee finally proposes an aesthetic theory that is based on a theory of the self, taking into account sensations and moods like boredom, the weather, crowds, being hungry and having a broken heart.
after having been in the thunderstorm of empty phrases at the Venice Biennale and after having experienced many emotional ups and downs throughout the past weeks, I desperately need to feel that there lies a practice in exhibition-making that takes into account the viewer’s body. over the course of three weeks, I will have the works of seven artists travelling through four different cities with me. they will appear differently to me each time I see them in a new place, which as well will be coined with old and new memories, emotions, people, and thus me making sense of them in a different way. while having their own (hi-)story and standpoint, they at the same time mirror my own, open it up and maybe change it a little every once in a while.
these exhibitions are private in the same sense that they are public, they are as transient as they are eternal. come and have your memories speak with us.
 please feel free to contact me about this during the opening(s)
 Lee, Vernon: The Psychology of an Art Writer, 1903; republished by David Zwirner Books, 2018
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