People have always consumed substances for other purposes than nutrition – for medical reasons, for ecstasy, to expand their consciousness, in religious rituals, for self-optimization, out of protest or boredom.
The omnipresence of substances and the consequences of their handling within society currently inspire heated debates on a global scale – from the opioid crisis in the USA to the failure of the “war on drugs,” from the proclamation of a psychedelic renaissance to the LGBTQI community’s struggle for legal access to hormones.
The contexts in which substances are being consumed determine their societal meaning. But they change over time and substances can migrate from one category to another. The differentiation of substances as pharmaceuticals, drugs, hormones or doping agents does not seem to stem from the effects or dangers they have for individuals or society.
It roots deep in a social history that was shaped by questions of race, gender, class and economic interests. As an inheritance of the 19th and 20th century the discourse is still heavily driven by power structures and taboos. The omnipresence of substances in our everyday life demands a revision of the societal view on them.
The international group exhibition at Kunstpalais features artists who approach the topic in a variety of media. From photography, video, and sculpture to installation and performance the discursive field covers a wide range. It asks questions about effects and potentials of different substances, the correlation of their distribution and the marginalization of minorities, economic interests and highly profitable black markets. Ultimately it deals with the relation between individual freedom and collective responsibility, with biopolitics and criticizes (hetero-)normative concepts. The exhibition scrutinizes the societal view on substances and examines global consequences as well as future potentials.
Featuring works by: Daniel García Andújar, Cassils, Rodney Graham, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Carsten Höller, Joachim Koester, Mary Maggic, Joanna Rajkowska, Thomas Rentmeister, Marten Schech, Jeremy Shaw, and Suzanne Treister.