Activist Neuroaesthetics Exhibition

Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V.
May 1 – August 7, 2021

The three-part exhibition ACTIVIST NEUROAESTHETICS concerns the ways and means with which artists investigate the sensible world in order to estrange and destabilize it. It understands that by changing the socio-political cultural milieu one can also alter the conditions of the neurobiological architecture of the brain and thus thought itself. This exhibition builds on “Conceptual Art as a Neurobiological Practice,” a 1999 exhibition curated by Warren Neidich at Thread Waxing Space in New York City, as a starting point. Rather than being an exhibition about the collaboration between art and science, or a reductive methodology of how the brain works, “Conceptual Art as a Neurobiological Practice” attempted to challenge the common notion of the development of conceptual art as a response to the changing art market driven by the importance of the immateriality of the artwork. Instead, it proposed another lineage that begins with Marcel Duchamp’s engagement with the grey matter of the brain, rather than its retinal character. 

In the twenty years since this exhibition, significant changes in technology and the social and cultural fields – not to mention the means by which to write about and understand these topics – have taken place which makes it necessary to update this discussion to include many new artistic practices and practitioners. We are transitioning from post-Fordism to cognitive capitalism, as well as from an information and knowledge economy to one that is brain-based. Important in this regard is the increasing effects of neural capitalism and its considerable new armamentarium of brain-related and subsuming technologies. Artificial intelligence is not only based on artificial neural networks, but is in the process of insinuating itself in cognitive labor and will soon replace jobs not only like taxi and bus drivers, but the mental work of accountants, lawyers and doctors. Brain-computer interfaces are an essential component of what is known as the singularity or superintelligence and companies like Neuralink are investing heavily in this technology in order to connect the brain (and its brainwaves) and the internet. The extracranial brain is now both post-human and post-anthropocentric and constituted by Big Data, Big Pharm and Artificial Intelligence. As Jonathan Crary has stated, sleep is a new frontier for labor to be subsumed by capitalism. Algorithms and the iCloud form the new components of sovereignty. Architects have given up drawing buildings to designing them on computer platforms. All these together form the new conditions of the world today which have required new artistic responses to them. These responses will form the basis of this three-part exhibition.


Brain Without Organs

May 1 – 29, 2021



Telepathy and New Labor

July 10 – August 7, 2021