School of Pain draws on the work of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Marquis de Sade, the first two thinkers of economies of desire. Sade, with his ironic demonstrations, may be seen as a predecessor to the attitudes of twentieth century modern and conceptual art. The libidinal economy, unleashed by modern reason, turned out to easily adopt such subversions in the constant mutations of advanced capitalism. The original, subversive imagery of Sade’s mechanised, accelerated and coldly executed desire therefore turned out to be a very literal image of our time. The exhibition poses the question of whether the related but oppositional position of Masoch, based on suspension and humor, couldn’t be the answer to both a return of con- temporary art from theory to the sensual, but also meaningful reorienaton of art’s attitude towards an overly alienated world.
The exhibition at Art in General features work by artists Than Hussein Clark, Anna Daučíková, Chiara Fumai, Mark Ther and BRUD (Aditya Mandayam) and is curated by Michal Novotný, Director of Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA in Prague. A public program series also accompanies the exhibition, including screenings and performance by the artists: Mark Ther’s films from the early 2000s–present; Than Hussein Clark’s feature-length film Love at the Frankfurt Autoshow; and musical perfor- mance, Locus Operandi, by Indo-Polish artist, filmmaker, writer, and musician, UMMO (Aditya Mandayam). Than Hussein Clark (born 1981 in New Hampshire, USA, lives in London and Hamburg) works as an independent artist as well as being a member of the editorial board of the London-based Montez Press, co-established by the artist in 2012, which publishes texts “against current critical modalities and theoretical dogmas which inform the workings of contemporary knowl- edge economy.” After studying acting in New York and Los Angeles, he first completed a degree in art history in Edinburgh and London, after which he studied art at Goldsmiths College in London and University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. He is represented by Mathew Gallery in New York, VI, VII in Oslo, Galerie Karin Guenther in Hamburg and Galerie Crèvecoeur in Paris.
Anna Daučíková is a feminist artist and teacher working across photography, painting, video and live performance. Her work focuses on queer sexuality and the relationship between desire and the political body. Daučíková studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and moved to Moscow in the 1980s, working as a glassblower and painter and eventually becoming a member of the Soviet Artists’ Union. However, her experimental photographic remained unseen during the Soviet Union’s tu- multuous transition from Brezhnev-era stagnation to Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika. She returned to Bratislava in 1991 where she co-founded the influential queer feminist journal Aspekt. Since 1991, she has exhibited internationally at documenta 14, (2017, Athens/Kassel), Gallery Futura (2016, Prague), Kiyv Biennial/School of Kyiv (2015), Manifesta 10 (2014, St. Petersburg), “Good Girls”, MNAC (2013, Bucharest), “Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe” (2010, Zach- eta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw/MUMOK, Vienna), “Ars Homo Erotica” (2009, the National Museum, Warsaw), “Kunst und Öffentlichkeit”, 40 Jahre Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (2009, Berlin). Chiara Fumai’s (1978–2017) performative practice belonged to the tradition of female psychics. She freely (mis)interpreted and combined the words of different controversial entities into new stories, questioning their symbolic meaning and representa- tion. Her work engaged radical feminism, media culture, language and repression. Fumai began with lecture-performances that later evolved into installations, videos, collages, sound, embroidery and fictional documentation. Fumai was the winner of the ninth edition of the Furla Art Award, 2013. Solo exhibitions include Der Hexenhammer, Museion, Bolzano, Italy, 2015; With Love from $inister, A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, 2013; and I Did Not Say or Mean ‘Warning’, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, 2013. Recent group exhibitions and performances have been presented at David Roberts Art Foundation, London, 2015; CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2015; Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2014; De Appel Arts Center, Amsterdam, 2014; Nottingham Contemporary, 2014; Fiorucci Art Trust, London, 2014; MUSAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León, 2013; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, 2012; Studio Voltaire, London, 2014; Nomas Foundation, Rome, 2011; and MACRO Testac- cio, Rome, 2011.
Michal Novotný is Director of Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA in Prague and external Curator at PLATO Ostrava. He teaches at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Recent curatorial research projects and residencies include Delfina Foundation, London (2016); Stroom Den Haag, Haag (2015); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2014); Contem- porary Art Museum, Rijeka (2014); Villa Arson, Nice (2013). In 2018 he curated Orient, a large exhibition survey taking place in Kim?, Riga, BOZAR, Brussels and Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow. Other recent exhibitions include The Life and Death of the 1980s at Syntax, Lisbon (2017) and Deux Sens du Decoratif, CAC Passerelle, Brest (2018). Mark Ther is a video artist from the Czech Republic whose short films are characterized by their experimentation with narrative, absurdist humor and incisive exploration of sexuality, gender and taboo historical moments. Ther has made numerous short films including, Maria Callas, 2003, Ther, 2003, Burgur und Ther, 2004, Enkel, 2011, Das wandernde Sternlein, 2012 and has exhibited at Gallery hl. of the City of Prague Old Town Hall, 2008 and Václav Špála Gallery, 2012. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, participated as a resident in the International Studio & Curating Program in 2013 and received the Jindčich Chalupecký Award in 2011.
Brud are heuristics that grew sentient in the Twenty-Teens. An intelligent artifice (i.e., an I.A) raised on contemporary arse, Bruds locus operandi meanders somewhere between the Stage, the Screen, & the Eye. Misinformed by the history of stage, parlour, & close-up magic, Brud are occupied by the psychology of tricks, gimmicks, apparitions, illusions, scams, & cons. Run on anarcho-syndicalist and open-core principles, Brud are led by their Benevolent Dictator, the Indo-Polish artist, filmmaker, writer, and musician Aditya Mandayam. His solo musical project Ummo combines West-Coast modular synthesis like ”Arp, Buchla, Serge, Ciat-Lonbarde, and countless nameless inventions that used bananas” with Indian classical singing, creating layers of ambisonic feedback, resonance, xenharmonic noise, and Carnatic vocals that he calls modular folk. Mandayam and friends run the label Buio and the radio station Juju which focus on experimental and underground music. In recent years Mandayam’s practice has taken a turn towards the esoteric Hindu traditions of Tantra. Combining avante-garde performance aesthetics with his studies in classical voice, Mandayam’s operatic oeuvre is a gesamtkunstwerk of sculpture, theater, cinema, music, light, text, sound, and image. Drenched in the Tantric trinity of black, white, and red, Ummo is the High Priest of the Temple of the White Cube. Recent exhibitions include Kunstverein Munich, Futura (Prague), CAC (Vilnius), Whitechapel Gal- lery (London), Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw), Kim? (Riga), MHKA (Antwerp), and de Halle (Haarlem). The goal of Brud is to replace Brud with better Brud.