The large-scale group exhibition Systems of Belief brings together artistic positions that explore alternative belief systems. In a world in which political and ecological states of emergency determine everyday life, constants of social life such as science, economics and politics are increasingly being put to the test in public debates. As individuals, as a society and as an entire ecosystem, we are currently facing great challenges. Challenging, even overwhelming, is often the subjective processing of the complex world events that flow into us through various streams of information and shape our view of the present.
With almost limitless power, anonymized and algorithmized sources of communication often seem to have an impact on our perception. Their technological and digital structures and systems are expressions of technocratic mechanisms that shape our public sphere: evidence-based information and analysis techniques, meticulous organizational plans and smooth processes drive our political and social apparatuses that are barely tangible but omnipresent. In this depersonalizing and metaphysical sphere of technological processes, any form of irrational action within those apparatuses seems impossible. The exhibition Systems of Belief takes this supposed space of the impossible as its point of departure and, through the perspectives of different generations of artists, attempts to penetrate worlds in which technology is not used for the purpose of conformist regulations, but becomes a generator of disorder, an expression of unorthodox dogmas and spiritual self-knowledge and self-realization.
Systems of Belief conceives of technology as a system of automated processes and mechanisms designed to create interdependent solutions to problems. As described above, this meaning of the term has come to its full development in a technocratic society. Less thought of as a network, however, technology also means the development of different tools for shaping different production and design processes.
On the one hand, the exhibition brings together positions that create their own transdisciplinary worlds by examining the logic and aesthetics of systems of knowledge and meaning, such as diagrams, cartographic schemes and religious charts. On the other hand, works are shown that made use of new technological processes and products at the time of their creation. For example, analogue animation techniques or Super 8 film cameras make it possible to work with color and light effects that allow for an expanded visual spectrum that enables the representation of a physical or psychological transcendence.
Based on the works of experimental filmmaker Jordan Belson (1926−2011), artist and architect Paul Laffoely’s (1935−2015), poet and underground filmmaker Storm de Hrisch (1912−2000), musician and artist Lee Scratch Perry (1936- 2021), Systems of Belief looks at artists who developed their practices under the auspices of different origins and social influences. As disparate as their works appear, however, they are united by their transdisciplinary and often self-taught approach to art production as well as their work in subcultural contexts that were only sporadically docked to established currents.
For example, Laffoley, who was in contact with Andy Warhol and Friedrich Kiesler, among others, was considered almost exclusively an “outsider artist” throughout his life. Through his involvement with and interest in science, psychology and religion, among other things, Laffoley mainly created paintings that, similar to today’s information design, depict systems that capture his ideas of imagined cosmological worlds, wondrous machines and spiritual philosophies. The filmmaker Storm de Hirsch, is considered one of the key figures of the New York avant-garde scene of the 1960s. Like many experimental filmmakers of the time, de Hirsch began her artistic career not as a filmmaker, but as a poet. She made her first film in the early 1960s and soon became active in the New York underground film movement, collaborating with filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke and others. Her films explored the possibilities of light and analog effects to create kaleidoscopic images inspired by the aesthetics of Far Eastern religions and rituals. Jamaican musician and artist Lee Scratch Perry, who died last year, is best known as a record producer and singer. By integrating all kinds of musical styles and sounds into his music production, he invented the remix and the mash-up, without which music is unthinkable today. He produced music using different technical means as well as shamanistic influences. From the 1990s, he also became more known for his visual practice, which, like his music, consists of “sampling” and interweaving. His installations include everything from paintings to religious objects, clothing and a whole host of other things often associated with Pan Africanism and the Rastafarian religion.
Belson, Laffoley, de Hirsch and Scratch Perry not only make it possible to reflect on the relationship between ideological or spiritual self-realization through the use and subversion of technological means, but their existence on the periphery of the established art system reveals it to be an apparatus shaped by rules and dogmas that functions on the basis of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. Their works are shown in Systems of Belief with the works of young artistic positions that expand the aspects described and open up dialogues.
is an artist, art and media theorist. His artistic fields of work include photo art, video art, computer art, net art, installations, performance and multimedia art. In his works, Kriesche attempts to bridge the gap between the genetic micro-worlds and the macro-worlds of the universe. With his sculptures and installations, Kriesche has been at numerous major events such as documenta 6, the Venice Biennale, and in museums such as the Haus der Kunst, Munich, and the Chicago Art Institute. Most recently, the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg dedicated an extensive survey exhibition to him.