If not now

Graduating class of the 2018—2020 MA Fine Art

If Not Now features contributions from the graduating class of the 2018—2020 MA Fine Art of HKU University of the Arts Utrecht.

If Not Now features contributions from the graduating class of the 2018—2020 MA Fine Art of HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. The artists; Isshaq Al-Barbary, Charli Herrington, Carina Jansen, Bennet Edwin Kruit, Sinwah Lai, Sol Enae Lee, Winston Nanlohy, Gerardo Gomez Tonda, Gizem Üstüner, M.C. Julie Yu and Jinxiao Zhou, have individually and collectively contributed to this exhibition, with artistic approaches that are sensitive to difference and that respond to urgent social-political issues. 

If Not Now features contributions from the graduating class of the 2018—2020 MA Fine Art of HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. The artists; Isshaq Al-Barbary, Charli Herrington, Carina Jansen, Bennet Edwin Kruit, Sinwah Lai, Sol Enae Lee, Winston Nanlohy, Gerardo Gomez Tonda, Gizem Üstüner, M.C. Julie Yu and Jinxiao Zhou, have individually and collectively contributed to this exhibition, with artistic approaches that are sensitive to difference and that respond to urgent social-political issues.
 
Disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the final semester of their studies, this group of international artists found themselves confined to their homes. Due to the severity of the pandemic, troublesome and precarious conditions that pre-existed Covid-19 have become even more palpable as they demand a redistribution of attention, energy, and priorities. However, these very conditions have also led to revelations, a renewed questioning of personal and collective identity and belonging, and most importantly: an urgency to act in the here and now, to directly engage with the crisis, as students, and as friends, colleagues, family members.
More than ever before, the artists encountered the institutional and legal structures that underpin and condition their education: from curricula being disrupted, to precarious housing situations, the loss of side jobs, uncertainty about the conditions of extending their residency permits, and struggles to pay tuition fees. Under pressure of the individualistic rhetoric and methods employed by politicians and educational institutions alike, they felt a sharp need to challenge these powers. Refusing to partake in the modern utopia and illusion of “outsourcing” solutions for current problems into an unknown future, the artists pave the way for inquiring how to act in the now.
Characterized by a radical disruption of life caused by the global pandemic, If Not Now addresses the urgent needfor structural revisions of the paradigms—geographical, political, institutional, social, linguistic, humanistic—that form the foundations of the contemporary world. The participants have translated their personal, historical and cultural contexts, including their own experiences, family relationships, encounters with strangers, experiences of their surroundings, memories, dreams and nightmares, into artistic models. The artists critically examine themselves, their experiences, and their encounters with the ideological foundations that shape their everyday lives and that continue to fail them, whilst refusing to live towards a future formulated by the conditions of the present.

The dystopian future arrived suddenly, unexpectedly andtraumatically in the shape of an invisible virus taking thousands of lives. As the borders closed, it became once again clear how one’s gender, class, income, nationality,  age, and physical and mental state, directly affect one’s right to live. Aware of their own positions within this context—simultaneously precarious and privileged, the artists are determined to make an impact, to insist on a redefinition of norms, as artists and as humans. Without delay, they struggle to actualize the world they want to live in, not putting up with rules and relations that are imposed on them by institutions and the logic of capital. The individual and collective works in this exhibition are voices of urgency that call sonorously for what needs to be done. The current time of crisis only amplifies and echoes their call for change. Because if not now, then when?

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