"On Limits: Estrangement in the Everyday" at The Kitchen
by Karolina Sotomayor
We praise The Kitchen for hosting provocative films, performances and exhibitions for years. Its current exhibition doesn’t stay behind. “On Limits: Estrangement in the Everyday” hits where it hurts. The exhibit tackles the current global issues that should concern all of us (if you are not concerned yet, after visiting The Kitchen, you will be). Most of the mixed-medium pieces only date back to the 1990’s and consign to the idea that issues such as climate change, gender and racial inequality and violence, are consequences of the neoliberal capitalist system we live under.
The four international curators from the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art seek to pull you out of the rock you may have been living under to raise awareness of the pressing issues which present and future generations are and will be fighting against.
The pieces provoked an internal dialogue where I found myself questioning my own humanity. I experienced the common feeling of believing I can change the world with my own two hands until I watched A.L. Steiner’s mixed media installation titled Accidenthell (2014-2016). The footage produced by the artist herself shows the difficulty of dealing with authorities in the process of changing laws to protect the environment and isolated communities affected by resource extraction.
I also found myself staring at Milica Tomić’s One Day (2009) in disbelief at the fact that guns and violence have been so normalized in society that her carrying around an AK-47 for a whole day on the streets of three major cities passed unnoticed by the people around her. Even I did not notice the enormous gun at first; I certainly cannot deny that perhaps it I were standing beside her, maybe I would not have noticed its presence either.
The exhibition’s failures were technical rather than thematic. The works were confrontational and provocative, each tackling its own demons through innovative mediums. As much as it is crucial for the contemporary art world to keep the conversation on these subjects going, incorporating all these issues within the same space is an ambitious endeavor that can result in an overwhelming potpourri of themes, especially if the works exhibited pertain to such diverse mediums and belong to twenty-three different artists. It appears that each theme is an enormous elephant, too big to share The Kitchen’s space both physically and figuratively. Independently, the pieces are powerful enough to wake us up from this hazy dream.
“On Limits: Estrangement in the Everyday” will be on view at The Kitchen until June 11, 2016.
Article © Karonlina Sotomayor
All images © The Kitchen
© All rights reserved, 2016 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.