BETWEEN THE PESSIMISM OF THE INTELLECT AND THE OPTIMISM OF THE WILL
The title of the main exhibition of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is inspired by an aphorism invoked by the Marxist thinker and politician Antonio Gramsci in the Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) written between 1929 and 1935. Gramsci wrote: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned […] I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” The exhibition takes Gramsci’s aphorism as a point of departure to reflect on the current crisis that governs much of the Mediterranean region, the geographic focus of the Biennale. Gramsci defined crisis as a situation where “the old is dying and the new cannot be born”. “Pessimism of the intellect” entails a critical view of things as they are. “Optimism of the will”, evokes the imagination, and the call to action necessary to overcome adversity. It is precisely between these two mental poles that much of the Mediterranean finds itself today. The artists in the exhibition explore the multiple manifestations of this duality, engage in critical, oppositional cultural practices, and exercise the freedom of the imagination, thus symbolically engaging with Gramsci’s aphorism to look into and beyond the current crisis, allowing for what Ernst Bloch has called “forward dreaming”.
23.06.15 – 30.09.15
Leof. Stratou Ave. & September 3rd St.
Τ: +30 2310 589141 & 143
Curator: Katerina Gregos
Exhibition designer: Danae Giamalaki