Curated by Dr. Inke Arns & Thibaut de Ruyter
INDUSTRIAL (Research) asks a deceptively simple question: What happened to industry? This question applies not only to the Ruhr but also to large parts of Belgium, Northern France, Northern England, the USA, and formerly socialist states in Eastern Europe. How does the so-called ‘structural change’ affect communities and landscapes globally? And what are its repercussions in art and popular culture?
INDUSTRIAL (Research) consists of a 22 m long table with more than 80 books, 30 records, 15 videos and many objects, by and about: Symphony of Sirens (Baku 1922), Metropolis (1927), Magnitogorsk (1929), Bernd & Hilla Becher, Kraftwerk, Ruhrgebiet, Joy Division, Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, Laibach, Bhopal, Unionbrauerei, Socheaux, Japan, Eisenhüttenstadt, Leipzig, Bytom, Detroit, Ekatarinburg, China, etc.
INDUSTRIAL (Research) asks how the industry has affected people and how music, literature and art reacted to this violence described by Horkheimer and Adorno in 1944. “The might of industrial society is lodged in men’s minds”, they wrote – for good, we might add. One has to imagine this “might” as a disciplination of the body and the mind, a huge industrial machine that adapts the human body – through disciplination, standardisation and de-individualisation – to its needs and conditions until it functions as effectively as possible. Echoing this vision, Heiner Müller observed in The Hamlet Machine (1977): “I want to be a machine. Arms to grasp legs to walk no pain no thoughts”.
INDUSTRIAL (Research) gathers a series of historic and contemporary works which are concerned with the process of de-industrialisation in former industrial countries and the rapid, large-scale industrialisation in ‘emerging countries’, most notably China and India. While the so-called ‘First World’ is still looking for ways to alleviate the (long-term) social and economic consequences of de-industrialisation, these countries are undergoing a rapid and massive process of industrialisation.
INDUSTRIAL (Research) explores industry’s heritage in the areas it has abandoned, but also its relocation to other areas of the world and the working conditions in these new global players. More generally, it asks if industry has really disappeared in traditional industrial countries or if ‘immaterial labour’ is not merely an uncanny resurgence of industry that translates the ‘might of industrial society’ (Horkheimer/Adorno) into today’s post-industrial modes of production.
For this exhibition, curators Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter have researched and travelled extensively to compile an archive of stories, images, books, films and music around the concept of industry. In INDUSTRIAL (Research) visitors are encouraged to take part in their research by leafing through collections of photographs, watching videos, looking at paintings and browsing through documentation.
INDUSTRIAL (Research) is simultaneously a work place, research lab and repository – an invitation to familiarise oneself with a subject matter that merges local and global concerns as well as historic and current developments which have only just begun.