Since the beginning of time, humans have occasionally ingested substances which have no nourishing effect. There are many reasons why people consume such substances: healing, intoxication, psychedelic experience, religious rituals, self-optimisation, protest and boredom. However, the purpose for ingesting them and the names we give them have changed over time. Their classification as pharmaceutical products, drugs, hormones or doping substances often have less to do with their characteristics than with social background and economic interests.
This exhibition invites artists to explore the subject of substances in photography, video, sculpture, drawings, VR, installations and performances. Their artworks examine, among other things, the role of the darknet in global commerce, the ties between the military and the pharmaceutical industry, or the use of hormones in our society. The exhibition poses fundamental ethical questions concerning a free and self-determined life and the relationship between personal freedom and collective responsibility against the background of current medical research. The Dresden artist Marten Schech has created an exhibition design which highlights the thematic and aesthetic relationships between the artistic positions. The associative starting point of the exhibition is the medieval alchemist’s laboratory where all key substances existed in one place.
The exhibition is accompanied by an international conference, organised by the Kunstpalais, where chemical, neurological and psychotherapeutic studies will be presented, and scientists and bioethicists will engage in discussion with legal and political scholars. The project includes a multifaceted programme of workshops, performances, a literary evening and guided tours for various ages.
Artistic director: Milena Mercer
Artists: Daniel García Andújar (ES), Cassils (CA), Rodney Graham (CA) Sidsel Meineche Hansen (DK), Carsten Höller (BE), Joachim Koester (DK), Joanna Rajkowska (PL), Marten Schech, Jeremy Shaw (CA), Suzanne Treister (GB), Mary Tsang (US) and others