C.H.O.S.E.N [Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk. The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon]

Marxism, Nihilism, Communism, Socialism and Nazism are all ideologies shaped in modern times, functioning as secular counterparts to religious tenets. In the core of these ideologies is the secular-messianic desire of modern humans who pretend to have shaped this world and the next with their own hands, Modern revolutionary ideologies, Zionism among them, translated old religious longings into secular and political terms; religion was secularized, and turned into History – heavenly kingship became human kingship. However, authors such as Agata Bielik-Robson argue that hopes attached to the visions of the Messiah are disconnected from the utopian model of order; they stay on the side of an archaic, subversive position of mining the prevailing social order.

Artists: Anna Niesterowicz, Menachem & Yekutiel Roth, Yael Bartana, Yossi & Itamar, Artur Zmijewski, Sala-manca, Joanna Rajkowska, Avi Mograbi, Ittai Meyer & Suff Backaleinick, Roee Rosen, Anna Molska, Grzegorz Klaman.

A joint collaboration between Wyspa Institute of Art and The Israeli Center for Digital Art. Dates: 09.12.2008 – 28.02.2009 | 20.09.2008 – 15.11.2008

The project investigates the paths in which national and other communal narratives of today remain affected by philosophical, literary and ideological Messianism. To “renew the meaning,” using the words of Maria Janion, of this historically and philosophically loaded term and cultural phenomenon of seeing oneself as “chosen” to fulfill a particular mission, comes either from the supreme order, an ideological belief or just a common sense of responsibility. What interests us is how contemporary visual art carries out and reflects upon the visions of people, nation and country as the trustees of a particular mission of liberation, salvation and self-empowerment, and to see the cultural plots interwoven in the particular vision of individual, the hero, the martyr, the prophet and finally, politician, artist and intellectual.

The project is a collective response to notions of Messianism – either religious, secular, false or national. It addresses its various manifestations not solely within its Judeo-Christian context, but also in today politics, society and culture. The works presented in this exhibition examine the different expressions of “contemporary” Messianism, marked by its dynamism and its constant transformation. Thus, the politicisation of theology, a hallmark of Modernism, is replaced with a process of theologising the political, and this process is expressed in the politics of religion and fundamentalism.

Co curated by – Galit Eilat & Aneta Szyłak