The group exhibition First Person Plural: Empathy, Intimacy, Irony, and Anger inquires into the emotional infrastructures of the present. What roles do emotions and affects play in forming collectivities and political belonging? What kind of “we’s” do empathy, intimacy, irony, and anger assemble, and how do they determine which “first person plurals” someone is part of? And where does the affective power of art stand in these processes?
The exhibition considers these questions along contemporary political, economic, technological, and social challenges—including the alarming surfacing of fascisms in public life. Pondering the emotional as an organizing force across political spectrums, emotions are understood not as individual mental states but as collective material and affective practices that are both shaped by and shape social life. The works in the exhibition challenge the familiar, divisive narratives of a “we,” such as the nation and the so-called “refugee crisis,” and allude to emotions as entry points for manipulation.
The exhibition features works by artists Doug Ashford, Sven Augustijnen, Tala Madani, Liz Magic Laser, Eva and Franco Mattes, Otobong Nkanga, and Sarah Vanhee, as well as a library space conceived by 2017/2018 BAK Fellow Sepake Angiama. Titled We Summon Here All Beings Present, Past & Future, this space features books, films, audio pieces, and posters, as well as a series of public workshops to activate them.