What are you looking at?
The n.b.k. is holding a group exhibition with the 15 recipients of the Berlin Senate’s Fine Arts Scholarship. Among the participants is video artist Vika Kirchenbauer, presenting her 3D installation titled “You Are Boring!“ > Need to spice up your life? “We're totally unique, so being with us will not only be the craziest thing you've ever done – it will also be easy for you to do stuff that you couldn't even imagine, like fucking that exotic asshole that is actually a cunt, or borrowing a dick from someone on whose tits you can cum with it.” This is how the above figure – or rather, a holographic representation of him – beckons you, the viewer. “I mean, who wouldn't want to fuck a work of conceptual art?” Feminist film critic Laura Mulvey published her concept of the “male gaze”, pointing out our cultural pattern of framing women as objects from a phallic, unilateral perspective: of the director, of the other on-screen characters and of the audience. That was in 1975. As the title of this group show asks, where are we now? In most of her work, Vika Kirchenbauer confronts the problematic issue of spectatorship. “It’s much less about a gendered gaze than it is about a class gaze, a capitalist gaze and maybe a normatively straight gaze,” she told SIEGESSÄULE. Although she often uses video as her medium, Kirchenbauer has not taken the film world as her target. In this new piece, she zooms out into larger contexts, such as the burgeoning “experience economy” and the realm of contemporary art. Crash course in late capitalism: Following agrarian economy (crops), industrial economy (machines) and service economy (service, duh), we've now arrived at a point at which businesses must provide memorable events to the consumer. According to Pine/Gilmore's 1998 manifesto TheExperienceEconomy, employees are performers and work is theater. It's nothing new that an aspiring actor might have a day job as a waiter. But now, in the experiential era, simply put, waiters are actors. And of course, the art world mirrors this economic development. In “You Are Boring!”, Vika and her companions offer themselves as the life-size solution to your problem. They give you advice on how to “experiencify“your mundane existence. When they spank or pee on each other, it only adds voyeuristic allure. Or is it actually discomfort? She further explains: “It's about how we create art institutions where a certain class of people can look at 'the other' safely without their gaze being challenged.“To her, top-down acceptance works only if we don’t pose a threat to the hierarchy – “as long as we let them measure us with their scale, as long as we leave it to them to legitimize us or not. What we are trying to do in this work could be called ‘acts of looking back’.“< Joey Hansom