Artist: Sebastian Jung
Curators: Ajda Ana Kocutar and Lara Mejač
2. 9. at 6:30 pm: Viewing of the exhibition with the exhibition curators
23. 9. at 6:30 pm: Viewing of the exhibition with exhibition curator Ajda Ana Kocutar
The point of departure for the exhibition Intensive Care by the German artist Sebastian Jung is an extensive series of drawings created at a rapid pace while observing protests and demonstrations as well as various collective manifestations of social life, from high-profile trials, fairs (artistic, erotic or esoteric), to shopping malls and many popular ways to spend one’s free time. He attempts to transcend the boundary between those he depicts and the spaces of art by exhibiting within contexts that he previously only observed. This kind of return is important to him, as he is not exempt from the society he portrays. He observes it from a distance but does at the same time not forget that he is also a part of it and that the critique of society, which we decipher through his works is always self-criticism as well. His drawing in the form of documentary sketching calls for a reflection on events that range from the utterly banal to the emotionally charged and even sensationalist. Although he is interested in crowds, he often draws only single figures, yet these do not appear as individuals, as bearers of their own personal stories, but only as impersonal and lonely parts of the whole to which they belong at the observed moment. There is as much humour and sorrow in his works as in the situations of life itself, and as much absurdity, that they may be viewed with welcome detachment.
The instantaneousness of his process helps to reflect on current events. The artworks currently displayed at Škuc Gallery are Jung’s direct response to the pandemic and the
mass unrest happening simultaneously in various parts of the world. Intensive Care does not only refer to a type of healthcare but is also the term used to express care in a broader social context. The artist draws attention to the crisis of care within the capitalist order, which has assumed so far unimaginable dimensions and has intensified in the wake of the pandemic. When we talk about the crisis in healthcare, we are talking about the long-term and systematic neglect and abandonment of this aspect of society to the market, the shifting of moral and financial responsibility for healthcare to the individual, the precarisation of the health professions, the further neglect of home care for children and the elderly, which is even more deeply rooted and often left to women, the profound crisis in public health systems, which were barely able to bear the burden of the pandemic in the last year and then only with great difficulty. On the other hand, Jung documents the social unrest that is partly the result of the crisis described, and which, when examined closely, is the culmination of much longer-lasting living conditions that are intolerable for vast numbers of people all over the world. Over the past year, the artist has remained an observer in the field, using his notepad to document the protests of the broadest political spectrum from Leipzig to Berlin, but also closely observing the images of tension and violence found in the media.
The issues of the healthcare crisis and the crisis that takes the form of social unrest meet in the pervasiveness of Jung’s images. His drawings of intensive care in the medical sense express only one side of the same crisis as the image of demonstrations and violence. We are confronted with the fragility of a sick body abandoned to medical care, well aware of the inadequacies and malnutrition of the health system, yet a moment later we are faced with images of resisting bodies, individuals who find themselves in formless crowds, trying to assert their will against the more or less repressive authorities. The systemic and individual sides of the health problem are echoed in the collective need for public protest, which in its various formulations expresses the fundamental plight of contemporary society. Jung’s experience and field documentation lead us to the mass demonstrations of pandemic deniers in Germany, where the full burden of the market transfer from caring for others to caring for oneself has been ostensibly implemented. Protests have thus become an expression for the capitalism of ordinary individualism, while the times call for solidarity and care for others on a systemic level.
Entering the exhibition is entering a waiting room in all its ordinariness. It is a meeting place where, in passing, one reaches for the reading material left on the nearby chair. Such a space of reflection and enforced pause is peculiarly related to the aforementioned spaces of intensive care or the intensity of society’s response to the globally rampant crisis. It expresses another aspect of the art practice of Sebastian Jung – the desire to reach beyond the gallery space, this time through the publicist project Hot Spot Society, which precedes the exhibition at Škuc Gallery and in which he gives the word to the people, whom he sees as the discursive companions of his visual expression, about everything that has offered itself for reflection through his observation and interpretation in the visual language.
The documentary process of Sebastian Jung is thus rounded off in the set-up, based on quick drawing that mirrors the personal stories, anguishes and crises of individuals, and reminds us of the existing systemic mechanisms that are producing the crisis but are also successfully obscuring it to the breaking point where it becomes clear that the responsibility for the solution lies much deeper than it might seem.
Ajda Ana Kocutar and Lara Mejač
Sebastian Jung (1987) works in drawing, paint-ing and sculpture. He also designs publications and conceives interdisciplinary projects as an artist in cooperation with representatives from the fields of politics, popular culture, literature, science and academia. His work is characterised by a radically subjective view of his environment, which he sets in opposition to the overly simplistic images communicated in populist slogans. He participated in various group exhibitions, among them Tell me about yesterday tomorrow, NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Munich (2019), Das Labyrinth, Kunsthaus Nürnberg (2019) and Tendenzen ins Unbekannte, Kunstverein Gera (2017) as well as solo exhibitions at Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal (2020), Münchner Stadtmuseum (2017), Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin (2016) and Jenaer Kunstverein (2015). His work has also been fea-tured in Contemporary AND and Frieze Magazine.
Slovene Proofreading: Inge Pangos
English Translation: Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi
Brochure Design: Lea Jelenko
Photos from the exhibition opening: Simao Bessa
Exhibition view: Klemen Ilovar
Co-production: Škuc Gallery, Goethe-Institut Ljubljana
The Škuc Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ljubljana.