This exhibition revolves around the criteria by which you decide whether you rate your own life or the lives of others as ‘successful’ or ‘happy’.
We’re convinced that culture is exactly the right place to give this big issue the scope it deserves and avoid simplistic attempts at explanation. Conversely, any interest in this particular topic is not predicated on any regular involvement with art. We have therefore chosen to link the art exhibition with institutional formats from other areas of society in the hope of creating as many points of contact as possible for each and every one of you.
We want to focus on four of the most impactful promises of meaning and purpose of our age: work and leisure as complementary spheres of life, and the striving for self-fulfilment, set against the need for a sense of social affiliation. On a chart featuring subjective factors of happiness with these two pairings as the X and Y axes, each and every one of you could, presumably, plot points of intersection. Some will hope for a job for life; others will conquer the highest summits as long as their strength and their money lasts; others still will seek answers to their own existence in their partners and families or in a club or religious community. Certainly we have a sense that none of these strategies leads to definitive solutions, but we are also well aware that the emptiness that goes with this knowledge is hard to bear. And, in such a context, shopping sprees are merely a very short-term solution...
Which is why we believe in the absence of meaning. We believe that life is at its liveliest if we keep that empty space open rather than denying it; and as culture professionals our most important task is to soothe your fears as best we can and to enable perfectly pleasurable encounters with this existential shortfall.
So, to represent the areas mentioned above, we have set up four field offices of partner institutions under one roof: The Research Laboratory for Labour and Education (LAB) will test your (bread-)earning behaviour and provide information on innovative alternative work models; the Schöneberg Banqueting Hall is the ideal venue for you to try out – or distance yourself from – various forms of affiliation;
and, at Club Fortuna, every activity is about unconditional epicurean enjoyment. Finally, our self-help facility will deliberately frustrate your expectations of salvation through art in order to prepare you for a conscious life without meaning.
Ellen Blumenstein & team
"The Quest-for-Meaning Bureau. The Culture of a Good Life" An exhibition project by Ellen Blumenstein.
With contributions by:
Kurdwin Ayub, Joost Baljeu, Marc Bijl, Julius von Bismarck & Benjamin Maus, Böhler & Orendt, Melanie Bonajo, Club Fortuna, Jochen Dehn, Sonia Delaunay, Eric Ellingsen & Fabian Knecht, Ceal Floyer, Rainald Grebe, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Jenny Holzer, Reiner Kallhardt, On Kawara, Alexander Kluge, Terence Koh, Lawrence Lek, Katharina Mayer, Gianni Motti, Die Offene Gesellschaft, Dony Permedi, Picture Mosaics/Peter Yang, Wilfredo Prieto, Kateřina Šedá, Anton Stankowski, Klaus Steinmann, Mladen Stilinović, Pilvi Takala, Francesca Woodman, Helga Wretman, #DIE3FRAGEN