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“Altered States”, exploration of the substances in society through science and art at the Kunstpalais Erlangen in Germany

Until May 21st, 2018, the Kunstpalais presents in Erlangen (Germany), an international group exhibition called “Altered States. Substances in Contemporary Art” which features artists who approach the topic of substances in a variety of media.

People have always consumed substances for other purposes than nutrition – for medical reasons, for ecstasy, to expand their consciousness, in religious rituals, for self-optimization, out of protest or boredom. The omnipresence of substances and the consequences of their handling within society currently inspire heated debates on a global scale – from the opioid crisis in the USA to the failure of the “war on drugs,” from the proclamation of a psychedelic renaissance to the LGBTQI community’s struggle for legal access to hormones.

The contexts in which substances are being consumed determine their societal meaning. But they change over time and substances can migrate from one category to another. The differentiation of substances as pharmaceuticals, drugs, hormones or doping agents does not seem to stem from the effects or dangers they have for individuals or society. It roots deep in a social history that was shaped by questions of race, gender, class and economic interests.

From photography, video, and sculpture to installation and performance the discursive field of this exhibition covers a wide range. It asks questions about effects and potentials of different substances, the correlation of their distribution and the marginalization of minorities, economic interests and highly profitable black markets. Ultimately it deals with the relation between individual freedom and collective responsibility, with biopolitics and criticizes (hetero-)normative concepts. The exhibition scrutinizes the societal view on substances and examines global consequences as well as future potentials.

Artists: Daniel García Andújar, Cassils, Rodney Graham, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Carsten Höller, Joachim Koester, Mary Maggic, Joanna Rajkowska, Thomas Rentmeister, Marten Schech, Jeremy Shaw and Suzanne Trieste.

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1/ Suzanne Treister, “HFT The Gardener”, 2014-15, Copyright and courtesy the artist, Installationsansicht “Altered States. Substanzen in der zeitgenössischen Kunst”, Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Foto: Kilian Reil. Thomas Rentmeister, “ohne Titel”, 2007 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018, Foto: Bernd Borchardt
2/ Suzanne Treister, “HFT The Gardener”, 2014-15, Copyright and courtesy the artist.
3/ Mary Maggic, “Estrofem! Lab”, 2016, Copyright and courtesy the artist.