Double Bind at Rupert / Vilnius

Double Bind

Curated by: Maya Tounta and Justė Jonutytė

Artists: Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson, Berglind Jóna, Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Lina Lapelytė, Viktorija Rybakova, Augustas Serapinas 

Vaidilutės g. 79
Vilnius 10100

Date: 14 October – 11 November 2015

Viktorija Rybakova, 'Untitled', architecture detail, 2015 & Books from Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva, 'The Reading Room', 2015

'The Reading Room', Valentina Desideri, 2015

'Received Wet', Augustas Serapinas & Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, 2015 

Styrmir Orn Gudmundsson, 'Butterfly Blues', 2015 

'The Reading Room', Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva, 2015

'The Reading Room', Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva, 2015, taro cards and instructions

Viktorija Rybakova, 'Untitled', architecture detail 1, 2015

'Moon CQ Zoo', Morten Norbye Halvorsen, 2015

Styrmir Orn Gudmundsson, 'Butterfly Blues', 2015 

Lina Lapelyte, 'Ladies', 2015

I was reading the press release for an exhibition titled Depression.
Published around the time of an interview where Jeremy Paxman publicly
accuses Silvio Berlusconi of calling Angela Merkel an ‘unfuckable lard­arse’,
the text opens with a graphic passage in which the author imagines Merkel
succumbing to micro­incidents of depression. Angela “stopped throwing
anything away: all the trash from the pizza and ice cream and doner kebap
or whatever built up around her house and in her teeth and in her gut (lay
there) like unfired clay.”* I kept thinking, was this the unfired 
clay that would irrevocably end up in Angela’s lard-arse, lodged deep
within her grey amorphous listlessness, forever unfired? Newspapers
would continue to speculate as to what came first, the lard­arse or the
unfired clay in the gut, while Germany housed Asylum seekers on the site
of former Nazi labor camp Schwerte-Ost and discovered the Merkel cells
and then the Merkel cell carcinoma!**

Such a situation could be understood as a ‘double bind’, whereby a
person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands or a choice
between two undesirable courses of action. In dealing with a double bind
one can employ a strategy of digression, reference and elaboration of
detail, a flexing of psychological boundaries to encompass paradoxes and
contradictions, an athletic inclusivity if you like. This strategy is also
known as maximalism, employed by the likes of David Foster Wallace
and Thomas Pynchon, and understood as a romantic attempt to palliate
epistemological uncertainty. However, it should be acknowledged that 
certain double binds are impervious to the mesmeric palpitations of
maximalism. One example is depression, whose “emotional character”
writes Foster Wallace “is probably most indescribable except as a sort of 
double bind in which all of the alternatives we associate with human
agency are not just unpleasant but horrible.”

This sentence appears against a dark grey body of toy black dots,
flickering on and off in a benign, soothing, tingling of the screen; a
ghostly pulse of some distant mantra. We are on the home page of
DEPRESSION QUEST! by Zoe Quinn, an online game that calls itself an
interactive (non) fiction about living with depression. This game is not
meant to be fun or lighthearted. DQ wants to show sufferers of depression
that they are not alone in their feelings. “ It’s early on a Monday morning.
You are a mid­twenties human being” reads the introductory story board
that has suddenly replaced Foster Wallace. You are informed that “You
are dealing with motivation issues that sometimes makes dealing with
things difficult. You feel like this is probably your fault, and on bad days
can feel inwardly angry and down on yourself for being “lazy”, but
you’re not quite sure how you can break out of it, or how other people 
deal with these feelings and seem so very functional.”
This feeling of being “lazy” is a pattern that surfaces among sufferers of
depression, manifesting itself as a state of slumber while transforming
simple decisions such as getting out of bed or grocery shopping into
unassailable obstacles. While popular historical antecedents of depression
such as melancholia and the Ancient Greek humors do not concern
themselves with “laziness”, there is a proto­Christian term called Acedia,
which precisely describes this state of listlessness or torpor. In
Depression: A Public Feeling, Ann Cvetkovich enlists the term to put
forward an alternative understanding of depression. Where traditional
neo-liberal structures regard psychological states including depression as
pre­ideological, pre­social and individual, Ann and many others before
her consider psychological states as practices, going as far as to claim that
feeling bad is a direct outcome of being a neo-liberal subject. 

On September 9th 2014, The New Yorker published an article about DQ 
and Zoe Quinn. She had made the news after receiving an anonymous
threat on 4chan. “Next time she shows up at a conference we’ll give her a
crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal…a good solid injury to
the knees” wrote the anonymous author.

Double Bind is an exhibition of new commissions that aims to restore a
sense of political agency to private psychological practices associated
with personal failure. Starting from depression and looking more widely 
into emotion economies, we invited artists to fail and be vulnerable. A
confessional tone was assumed by works, architecture and curators alike;
a tone regarded as an insurgent force rallying against congealed 
understandings of psychological pathology and illness and the language
of seemingly dispassionate argument in which these are commonly
expressed. What remains as exhibition is unordered, multi-directional and
contradictory; a double bind, a lard­arse and unfired clay in the gut. / Text
by Maya Tounta

Double Bind is a collaboration between Rupert (Vilnius), the Academy of
Fine Art at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Norway) and The Living
Art Museum (Iceland). It consists of a travelling exhibition and a series of
lectures and publication with contributions by Florian Cramer, Travis
Jeppesen, Nina Power, Joshua Simon and Marina Vishmidt, spanning a
period of 6 months, 5 locations and multiple states of mind. The
inaugural show opened in Vilnius on October 14th, 2015 and closes on
the 11th of November, after which date it will travel to Pabradė
(Lithuania), Visaginas (Lithuania), Oslo (Norway) and Reykjavik

* Depression at François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, 2014  
** Merkel cells, or Merkel-Ranvier cells are oval receptor cells found in the skin of vertebrates
that have synaptic contacts with somatosensory afferents. They are associated with the sense
of light touch discrimination of shapes and textures. They can turn malignant and form the
skin tumor known as Merkel cell carcinoma. 

The project “Interdisciplinary Art Project “Politics of Emotion: Art in the
Expanded Sphere”“ is produced under the Programme LT07, the EEA
Financial Mechanism and Lithuanian Republic.

Installation shots are courtesy of Andrej Vasilenko and Rupert.
Images from performances are courtesy of Evgenija Levin and Rupert.