ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam
Galerie Ron Mandos will present the two solo exhibitions Post-Fordist Yoga with work by Carl Johan Högberg and Paradise with work by Coen Vunderink.
Carl Johan Högberg | Post-Fordist Yoga
Laid-Back Company Allows Employees To Work From Home After 6 PM
The timeliness of a pair of events recently came to my attention through a text by the philosopher Franco Berardi. Perhaps unsurprisingly it involves the trajectories of two white men. First, in 1977 Charlie Chaplin died. But a few years before this, a man named Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods system, irreversibly shifting the international monetary system and cancelling the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold, thus creating a free-floating currency de-linked from any material that could constitute its value. Now, it might be that at this moment you are thinking: uh, what does this have to do with painting? And so I ask here that you read on a bit further and perhaps it may start to make some sort of sense.
As both tramp and dictator, Charlie Chaplin created an embodied resistance, a triumphant protagonist digging his way out of the adversity embedded in our capitalist drama. With his death, perhaps also came the inklings of a death of another sort – the (perhaps naïve) idea of a popular uprising within the horizon of modernism. And by this point, whatever clarity Fordist means of production might have afforded us had already started to muddle, the social stratifications and economic structures mutating to create ever-new means for extracting surplus.
After the end of the Bretton Woods system, the flimsy paper materiality of money detached itself from the metal it was meant to represent, the sign detached from the signifier. And so signs are compared and exchanged with other signs in increasingly abstract transactions and negotiations. Meanwhile, the worker follows this trend too. The office is replaced by cafes with free wireless internet; the factory is relocated at ever greater remove from its consumers; products and job descriptions sublimate into mobile phone applications and teams of “trust engineers” managing your social media “experience”.
The lived milieu of post-fordism is increasingly characterized by the simultaneous creation and professional management of precarity. Work and (seeming) non-work now encompass all time and activity. We escape our boredom by checking email on our phones, and the distinction between “networking opportunity” and “catching up with friends” is often pretty blurry in that list of upcoming Facebook events. The self-management required in this structure entails layers of meta-work: self-assessment, detailing of aims and objectives, engagement in so-called ‘professional development’, and of course, self-care. Corporate multi-nationals now provide any number of “perks” for their staff: a yoga or pilates class over the lunch hour (but when do you eat lunch?) and to retain you during your most productive years, there is also a $20,000 benefit available to freeze your eggs. Meanwhile “health engagement companies” sell software (or as they prefer to call it: an “engagement ecosystem”) to corporate clients to improve the performance of their health and wellness initiatives, “combining the latest behavioral science, cutting edge technology, and data analytics” to track employees weight, exercise habits, and other health indicators to create rewards systems for employees who become “healthier”.
So where does this leave us? Perhaps I should admit here that I own a yoga mat and I like to eat chia seed pudding. And yet, I would like to think that there could be such a thing as sincere irony, and that there could be a hopefulness in this. But can I wink and stare at the same time? I’m not sure where to go from here, so instead I will leave you with a quote from the philosopher whose writing started this text:
Irony implies the infinite process of interpretation, whereas cynicism results from a (lost) faith. The cynic has lost his or her faith; the ironist never had a faith to begin.
For his second solo exhibition at Galerie Ron Mandos Carl Johan Högberg (1979, Sweden) presents a new series of paintings and objects based on his current body of research considers the intersection of subjectivity, exercise and the privatization of anxiety within neo-liberalism. Through a shuffling and reassembling of individual components, Högberg re-contextualizes source material to generate new connections and relationships – reminding us that there are countless ways to interpret a story, a legend or, for that matter, a painting. Högberg studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and De Ateliers in Amsterdam. His recent exhibitions include: Shuttlecock feat. Bob’s Your Uncle Sports Bar at Hordaland Kunstsenter (Bergen, Norway), The Black Moon at Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), Transposed Order at IASPIS and Carl Johan Högberg at Galleri Christian Larsen (both Stockholm, Sweden). He lives and works in Amsterdam. (Text by Angela Jerardi, 2015)
Coen Vunderink | Paradise
Galerie Ron Mandos has the pleasure to announce Paradise, the first exhibition of Coen Vunderink (1979, Dalfsen) with the gallery. In his exhibition the painter takes us on a subliminal journey to the depths of Paradise, long after god's eviction notice was put up. A series of new works visually channel the very desolate state of the Garden of Eden without it's inhabitants. The large-scale paintings show a more brutal side to Eden, where perfection is obscured by chaos. The wild overgrown landscapes, that echo the dream-like quality of Henri Rousseau's work, become the artists' personal narrative plains for dissecting the darker and lighter tones of the human psyche.
Vunderink in his work seems to want to cleanse the word paradise from its more contemporary connotations and restore it to its biblical state, so that peace and tranquillity can reign once more. Paradise today has become synonymous with the very cardinal sin that led to it's closure namely, temptation. Media and advertising today seem to want to suggest that sampling the forbidden fruits of our time will cause an upturn in our existence. Holidays on sandy beaches in countries with rogue regimes, dating sites for those in 'committed' relationships or simply by popping pills in a variety of colours with an equal variety of promises. All docile solutions to not so docile problems. Vunderink's quest for Paradise however takes a more introspective approach. His paintings become a commonplace for life's most ardent questions: Why are we here? What could be our purpose?
Vunderink neither suggests to have the answers, nor does he allude to the existence of there being any. With his work he challenges his audience to find themselves in the dense blossoming garden that he lays out for them. Temptation awaits, live the dream, disappear here, happiness next exit on the left, your Paradise awaits. (Text by Steven van Grinsven, 2015)