Margot Samel is pleased to present Maskenfreiheit, a group exhibition featuring artists Felix Beaudry, Tim Brawner, Cathleen Clarke, Naomi Rincón Gallardo, Melissa Joseph, Grace Kalyta, Kris Lemsalu & Teruko Kushi, Florian Meisenberg, Matt Morris, and Narcissister opening on July 20th, 2023.
Mikhail Bakhtin believed that a great social and political power laid in the pre-Renaissance carnival. The Carnivalesque, to the literary theorist and philosopher, was both a cultural phenomena, and a literary genre to follow, which inverted the powers of control dictated by the church and state through not just humor, but contact with the present moment in an embodiment of its antagonism. Through making comic material of the dominant present across all senses of the body, Bakhtin believed that no sets of rules were immune to the power of descriptive social rupture.
In the contemporary moment it may seem as though the carnivalesque is defending itself to the ever-growing exploitation of the individual. Where is impactful subversion found when control is dictated by the market of individuality, not far off aesthetically from what was once celebrated by carnival? Maskenfreiheit then takes up the call to find where this transformative break in dominant culture has moved, outside of the aesthetics of spectacle. To mask one’s self–to drag the present in reflecting back to itself its own expectations, is core to many of the works in on view.
To mask of course, is both a chance to escape external constructions of self and a moment to complicate this internalized essentialist move towards individuality. Masking falls in dialogue with the emancipatory never-ending project of embodiment and the enchantment of the present. It reminds not just the subject wearing the mask but the viewer as well that both are performers of common culture and co-determine each other in the choreography of social struggle.