SECRET SOCIETIES. TO KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENCE
Man has always been fascinated with secret societies and their clandestine rites, their covert knowledge, and exclusive circle of members. The character of secret societies ranges from harmless brotherhoods to powerful associations with very special financial and political objectives. Particularly in times of crises, secret societies provide surrogate values for the prevailing political, social and technological systems of order.
The exhibition is aimed at answering the question in how far secret societies also reflect certain mechanisms of contemporary art. Drawing on a combination of works of art and historical documents such as books, weapons, and Scotland Yard files, the exhibition pursues the nature of the secret along a labyrinthine course and discloses a range of bizarre and wondrous discoveries. The show’s circle of members includes such presumed artists as Enrico David, Gretchen Faust, Jenny Holzer, Joachim Koester, Terence Koh, Elad Lassry, Fabian Marti, Goldin+Senneby, Markus Schinwald, Ulla von Brandenburg, Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Michael Esposito, Cerith Wyn Evans, and Lisa Yuskavage. A certain degree of darkening will be inevitable, because the knowledge of secret societies has to remain obscure if it is to survive.
Secret societies--for centuries a fascinating and intimidating byword for structurally complex conspiratorial organisations. At first glance, secret societies would appear to be a somewhat intriguing theme in art context. Yet with their arcane rituals, their secret knowledge and exclusive membership, they do indeed reflect certain mechanisms present in contemporary art, and conversely, artists focus repeatedly upon the secret society phenomenon and its concomitant rituals. The supposition alone that secret societies are connected to all areas of society and have the capacity to influence it imperceptibly, secretly, is reason enough for artistic engagement. For this reason, this publication questions the possible motivations that the art world might have in common with arcane, clandestine movements, that is to say, which ideas here might be predicated upon mutual ground.