Secret Societies

Geheimgesellschaften / Sociétés Secrèts

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Cristina Ricupero, Alexis Vaillant, Max Hollein
texts (German/French/English) by Ina Blom, Michael Bracewell, Gary Lachman, Cristina Ricupero & Alexis Vaillant
256 p with 160 coloured illustrations
300 x 220 mm, soft cover embossed

ISBN 978-3-940953-82-7

(out of print)

Secret Art

Secret Societies, or so it goes, are constantly covertly working away behind the scenes. They are nevertheless responsible for epochmaking events, even revolutions, yet they still retain their arcane knowledge, which allows them to promote clever conspiracies in playful manner. Knights Templar, Jesuits, Rosicrucians, freemasons, theosophists, Opus Dei, CIA, Mafia, ETA, IRA, P2 and al-Qaeda, all of which represent a perpetual danger, irrespective of their leaning, which manifests itself in images of fear, and they threaten this state or that or indeed even an entire hemisphere with conspiratorial techniques geared toward murderous intent. Their own goal is always a state of some kind, be it divine or perhaps proletarian or at least a state liberated from something, a state, which can be coerced if, need be with bombs and violence. No wonder then when again and again harmless brotherhoods, as well as powerful associations, can be draped in mystique, granted spiritual dimensions, dangerous stereotypical enemies, which can only be defeated by radical destruction.
All of these vague points, the clandestine rituals, the arcane knowledge or the exclusive membership are reflected in social mechanisms, but above all, in the exclusivity of art and its processes, for example the roundel for attention at the vernissage, or the importance of the seating plan or VIP reception, highlight a significant phenomenon of contemporary art, namely that only the members of a small initiated circle share their understanding. It is not by chance that contemporary painting and sculpture have distanced themselves as fast as possible from postmodern variants of fragmentation and abstraction in order to start a completely new game with symbolically coloured content and forms at the opposite end of the scale, for example with paintings of enigmatic prison cells and interrogation devices or with objects with their disquieting library showcases and mystical shrines.
»This art duly returns the question regarding the elucidation of those secrets to the place where everything concealed finds its exit route: human imagination«, writes the Director of Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt Max Hollein in his text.

Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfort/Main, 23/06–25/09/2011
CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, 10/11/2011–26/02/2012