iRonic: The Subtle Irony of Art
Irony is a fundamental part of our verbal and visual communication. It accompanies us when we deal with mundane, big or small issues—and it requires complicity with the dialog partner.
Irony signals an intellectuality that is full of relish and playful self-confidence, but also comes up when we bump into particular boundaries, no matter whether they are put in place by oneself or imposed from outside. Because with an ironic attitude the possible is pitted against the real. “The reality of irony is the sheer possibility,” is what Kierkegaard already knew referring to the brokenness of the modern awareness.
The absurdity lies in the sudden dissolution of an expectation into nothingness, is what Kant, proponent of the Enlightenment, said. “Irony is nothing other than the amazement of the thinking mind about itself that often resolves into a smile,” said the romantic Schlegel and paraphrases irony poetically as a “transcendental buffoonery”.
Today, irony takes on a much harder tone and brings into our thinking that is drilled to causality the aspect of the “true capriciousness” (Diederichsen). Irony comprises exaggeration and understatement similarly, the dissolution of meaning and charging with meaning. Irony undermines and creates a distance in the same breath. Characteristically is its mobility: Irony includes the possibility of transgression and at the same time unification.
The group exhibition iRonic will analyze the different layers of irony as a central means of expression in contemporary art. It is about irony as an instrument of play, also a play on words, as an instrument of scrutiny, of analysis, of critique, or as an expression of borderline experiences, for example, when it is about “the insoluble conflict of the necessary and conditional and the imperative of a complete message” (Schlegel).
Irony is also playing with the expectations of the viewer, the artists’ expectations of themselves. It can be understood as a play with formal means of art, the contents of art, the role of the artist, or the relations between art and society.
John Bock (D), Shannon Bool (CDN), Thorsten Brinkmann (D), Mark Dion (USA), Anton Henning (D), Ragnar Kjartansson (IS), Brigitte Kowanz (A), Peter Land (DK), Patrick Mimran (F), Sener Özmen (TR), Ahmet Ögüt (TR), Claude Wall (D)