08 April, 2006

the youth of today


7 April – 25 June 2006

60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-0
fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240,

Press preview: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 11.00 a.m.

A growing emphasis on the media, individuality, and commercialism is producing a constantly increasing diversity of youth scenes. Girlies, greasers, hooligans, rappers, ravers, streetballers, train surfers, traceurs, and yamakasis are just some of these disparate “artificial tribes” to which today’s young people feel they belong. Whereas during the cold war of youth cultures one still had to decide between clear alternatives like punk or pop, young people today, as a rule, pass through a whole series of scenes. This exhibition shows how contemporary art confronts the various life worlds of teens, twens, and postadolescent thirty-somethings whose experience of youth culture often extends into their family lives and careers. This presentation of the 160 works of 50 international artists such as the Young British Artist Tracey Emin, the American photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and a large number of newcomers will outline the influences of youth culture on society’s aesthetic and political realms.

The exhibition “The Youth of Today” is sponsored by Sireo Real Estate. Additional support comes from the Mondriaan Foundation, The British Council, as well as from the Embassy of the United States of America and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.

Matthias Ulrich, curator of the exhibition: “Instead of offering still another category after the ‘Golf Generation’ and the ‘Reform Generation,’ the exhibition is mainly concerned with tracing the connections and inconsistencies within the worlds of young people and their different life forms and to open heterogeneous ways into adulthood from there. Both the subjects and the aesthetics of the works presented reflect the wide range of options informing the way today’s young people feel in a positive and in a negative sense.”

The enormous variety of youth scenarios, styles, and genres mirror a chaotic and ambivalent field of young people’s cultural production. The adolescent generation’s universe is accompanied by a multi-media flood of information which clings to it like its second nature and resolves contradictions, or so it seems. There is no generation conflict, and the thirty-somethings apparently are into the same codes as the teens and twens – in terms of language, music, and clothes. The unisex label not only deterritorializes different bodies and sexes. It also brings forth different strategies of identity formation allowing new social contexts: communities and urban spaces. So what about today’s re-constitution of the (sexual, socio-cultural, urban) subject? What follows from the autonomy of the sexes and the destruction of traditional role models?

The rebellion – against parents, adults, prevailing values, and the state – so frequently associated with youth also manifests itself in the multi-optional character of an open society. Skaters vs. hippies, punks vs. eager beavers, ravers against the night, and all together against war. The once desirable and timeless ideals have been reduced to human scale and human time. The loss reveals a re-formation of the individual as a post-modern, fragmentized subject. And it is the collage and the assemblage again that – as artistic means refined by computer-based sampling, animation, and digital imaging – permit the creation of a heterogeneous “new” world. Proliferating environments and installations, such as the artist Laura Kikauka’s studio “Funny Farm,” reflect these complex contexts and are the basis for unique possible worlds generating themselves in which comics and psychedelic holography, punk and sexual desire coexist.

The exhibition also explores the relationship between individual and group and the place young people assign themselves in society – issues prevailing in different youth cultures and their lifeworlds. In this regard, the club forms a multi-layered field of forces where young people search for a language of their own – for speechlessness as a different, a physical language – and hope to find an autonomous, exempt space which unites the political, sexual, and aesthetic utopias. The importance of hedonism as a model of the nineties club culture lies in its rejection of intellectual dominance and the subversive role of the body. The body suggests itself as a writable and rewritable surface on which signs freely form units and personal identities constitute themselves. Many of the shown works explore this changed body and present it in surroundings that strike us as claustrophobic. This contrast between bodily and spatial topology is not only a main concern of Pierre Huyghe’s and Collier Schorr’s work but also at the core of Mike Paré’s “Teenage Geography” and Bjarne Melgaard’s reactionary anthropoid apes.

Pose and transformation count among the traditional exercises when it comes to internalizing adult models or rebelling against them. They may also support the personality’s reconstitution and the young people’s individualization when employed as strategies of differentiation between themselves and adult persons. Thus, the significance of pose and transformation is equally undermined though – turning into a “shifter,” as Rosalind Krauss has called it, i.e. a semantic shell that can be moved in all directions without ever taking root. Today’s youth lives in more than just one youth culture, they go through several scenes, one after another or sometimes different ones at the same time. Growing up – whether in a positive or in a negative sense – cannot be seen as an absolute value providing a point of orientation from which today’s youth might derive current forms of meaning. They develop autonomous systems that are complex enough to find no sympathy and flexible enough to combine with other systems. Complexity
primarily describes the end of universal aims and the possibility of singularization. Matt Greene’s Gothic post-hippie dreamscapes reminiscent of de Sade, and Rita Ackermann’s girl paradises full of tough Lolita vamps all strike us as equally closed and untouchable microcosms.

LIST OF ARTISTS: Abetz/Drescher (DE), Rita Ackermann (HU), Joe Andoe (US), Marc Bijl (NL), Anuschka Blommers / Niels Schumm (NL), Slater Bradley (US), Daniele Buetti (CH), Ian Cooper (US), Annelise Coste (CH), Sue de Beer (US), Amie Dicke (NL), Philip-Lorca diCorcia (US), Iris van Dongen (NL), Tracey Emin (GB), Luis Gispert (US), Anthony Goicolea (US), Janine Gordon (US), Matthew Greene (US), Lauren Greenfield (US), Kevin Hanley (US), Esther Harris (GB), Rachel Howe (US), Pierre Huyghe (FR), Laura Kikauka (CA), Clemens Krauss (AT), Hendrik Krawen (DE), Liisa Lounila (FI), Marlene McCarty (US), Ryan McGinley (US), Alex McQuilkin (US), Martin Maloney (GB), Bjarne Melgaard (NL), Alex Morrison (CA), João Onofre (PT), Lea Asja Pagenkemper (DE), Mike Paré (US), Frédéric Post (CH), Bettina Pousttchi (DE), L. A. Raeven (NL), Julika Rudelius (DE), Collier Schorr (US), Kiki Seror (US), Ulrike Siecaup (DE), Hannah Starkey (IE), Tomoaki Suzuki (JP), Alex Tennigkeit (DE), Sue Tompkins (GB), Gavin Turk (GB), Alejandro Vidal (ES), Banks Violette (US).


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