“The sign is the arena of C.”
“As a ‘struggle of form,‘ C. is not only concerned with political forms […]. The struggles of form are struggles for meaning; they imbue culture and language with active resistance.”
In dictionary entries, their initials represent terms after their first mention. Class, class struggle, class contradiction, as well as crisis, catastrophe, and colonialism turn into C. Our C. stands for Class Languages. Given the inextricable crisis of legitimacy of global capitalism and the rise of right-wing populisms, we witness a return to the repressed relation of Class—a return that is enacted in many tongues.
In contemporary art, the purposeful alienation, appropriation, and misappropriation of language from professionalized truisms, stylistic forms, academic constraints, popular patterns, political resentments, and economic circumstances, plays an increasingly important role. In print media as well as text-based works in social media, in performed texts, refrains, and forms of public address and narration, languages emerge that deny instantaneous consumption and communication and wrest different kinds of filters from reality.
With CLASS LANGUAGES, we want to bring together a panorama of these filters – an assembly of forms of possible ‘ways out’, as Gilles Deleuze und Félix Guattari phrased it with Franz Kafka: “A line of escape, and not freedom. A vital escape and not an attack.” We want to take the increasingly differentiated language practices of contemporary art—in Berlin and beyond—as a starting point and search for class languages that delineate ‘ways out’, where attacks all too often defer to the syntax of what is attacked. This also calls for the acknowledgement of our own practice as a problem and the need of its reorganization. Because the notion of class does not only bear hope for a communal form of living but also the possibility of social alienation: Class is both problem and solution. Or, put differently, we are part of the problem whose solution we desire.
With the three threads of the project—exhibition, magazine, and debate—we seek to examine how the assertion of CLASS LANGUAGES can be made productive in the context of contemporary art: how can the goals and desires of authors and addressees be shared, how can professionalized forms of writing about art be reconfigured, how can an assembly of escape figurations bring forth provisory forms of living? We want to examine the classes that speak from within us—nostalgic, contemporary, and future ones, exclusive or inclusive ones—and which lines of flight they indicate.
KLASSENSPRACHEN at District is supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin.
Artists and authors:
Kai Althoff/Isa Genzken, Gerry Bibby, Cana Bilir-Meier, Sean Bonney, Hans-Christian Dany, Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu, Michaela Eichwald, Frank Engster, Fehras Publishing Practices, keyon gaskin, Sarah Harrison, Ann Hirsch, HATE MAGAZIN, Karl Holmqvist, Stephan Janitzky, Jutta Koether, Justin Lieberman, Hanne Lippard, Thomas Locher, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Karolin Meunier, Rachel O’Reilly, Phase 2, Johannes Paul Raether, Monika Rinck, Aykan Safoğlu, Juliana Spahr, spot the silence, Starship, Josef Strau, Marlene Streeruwitz, Hans Stützer, Linda Stupart, Ryan Trecartin, Peter Wächtler, Ian White, Tanja Widmann, Frank B. Wilderson III, Susanne Winterling, Alenka Zupančič und andere.