Conditions of impossibility IV/VII

March 7 – May 27, 2018
opening: March 6, 2018 from 6 pm
guided tour with the curator: April 26, 2018

exhibiting artists: Elise Florenty, Olga Jitlina, Jana Kapelová, Boris Ondreička, Sláva Sobotovičová, Jan Šerých, Polina Zaslavskaya & Konstantin Shavlovsky

curated by: Václav Magid

Alogorrhoea is the fourth in the cycle of exhibitions Conditions of Impossibility. The first three exhibitions examined transformations in our understanding of time, space and work as the prerequisites for the constitution of the subject. The moment has now arrived to determine whether the subject has anything to say on this matter.

The word can hardly be deemed a rare commodity these days. The torrent of information and the pressure on us to be in constant communication results in a mass capitulation to a mode of behaviour we might call logorrhoea. In rhetoric this term refers to superfluous verbosity, while in psychology it is the name given to a communicative defect characterised by pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness. What listeners hear seems to them to be nonsensical, absurd or unreasonable (alogos). The more we hear and read such gibberish, the less we learn. The proliferating voices all clamouring to tell us something blend into an indistinguishable wall of sound on which our own desperate attempts to express something are also broken.

The speculative turn that has left deep traces on thinking over the last decade was, inter alia, supposed to herald a divergence from the wide range of theoretical approaches of the second half of the twentieth century based on another turn, namely the linguistic turn. While poststructuralism was based on the proposition that there is nothing extraneous to language, speculative thinking is searching for ways of beginning once more to speak of this exterior. In this endeavour it can derive sustenance from the incontrovertible argument that the fundamental political, economic and ecological challenges of our time can no longer be reduced to mere discourse or representation. Politics is not simply about different identities squabbling over how they should be addressed, but has a global character, just like the markets and their indifference toward cultural difference. Moreover, the world that we inhabit is not simply a linguistic construct, a fact we are obliged to confront on a daily basis as the terrifying Real reality of climate change forces its way to the surface through the interstices in the chain of signifiers. However, any effort to break out of the cognitive limitations that language places on our understanding is itself undertaken by means of language, as we test its limits or attempt to imagine the speech of an inhuman intelligence. The homilies then delivered on the border of the academic and art worlds become a perfect illustration of the way that logorrhoea leads to alogos.

Meanwhile the phallogocentric structures of power do not lose their influence but, on the contrary, are reinforced, inter alia because they effectively exploit the mobilising potential of transgressive language. As long as people can be fobbed off with statements that give vent to their dissatisfaction and thus grant the requisite legitimation, it is too late for facts to make an appearance. The combined forces of modern fascists and the oligarchy assume control of the resources that used to be the main weapons of emancipatory forces in society, namely negation and the subversive re-labelling of normative discourse. In contrast, attempts to defend the rights of the excluded and oppressed are these days largely paralysed by a fear of speaking out, since every speech act always contains within itself a certain degree of exclusion and non-recognition. By claiming the word we deny another the opportunity to speak, and when we speak of our own suffering, we overlook the suffering of others. While the new right appropriates the concept of freedom of speech so as to vomit forth its hatred of the marginalised, the liberal public sphere becomes caught up in a denunciation of all speech acts, since they might possibly cause offence to someone, somewhere, somehow.

It is as if, face to face with the sudden realisation that language genuinely has the power to transform reality, we become speechless. The only thing that remains unchanged is the status of those who never had the word in the first place. By virtue of their very existence, these utter a silent discourse that exposes the dominant language to be nothing but a lie.

Václav Magid
(transl. Phil Jones)


The exhibition programme of the Foundation and Center for Contemporary Arts Prague receives support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech RepublicPrague City CouncilState Fund of Culture of the Czech RepublicCity District Prague 7

Media support: and UMA: You Make Art 

Thanks: Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein