press release

Kuad Gallery has been inspired by the esteemed economist and thinker Ernst Friedrich Schumacher and renamed its latest exhibition after his valued recollection of his essays in 1973, ‘Small is Beautiful’, which, recently, has regained a well-deserved attention in the context of the last decade’s economical crises.

The same name has also been preferred by several other exhibitions where art works of small size were presented to the public. In accordance with the concept, in our latest exhibition, various paintings, sketches, designs, photographs, video works and installations of small-scale will be presented. And the aim of our exhibition is to experience the possible methods and genres of aesthetics as how to overcome the negative impacts of social and economic crises on art. However, these methods and genres have been well known to public since the ‘replicas’, ‘readymades’ and ‘editions’ of Marcel Duchamp. Despite the fact that those artworks had been made to enforce the attainment of low-income social groups to the artworks, it could not have prevented those ‘pseudo-cheap’ pieces from falling into the hands of the rich as expensive objects.

Let us herewith paraphrase Schumacher’s approach once more: In 1970s, the world was mainly divided between the two systems of Capitalism and Communism where the social perception and approaches were accordingly polarized. During that period, though two oil-crises have been overcome, after 40 years when the Wall Street crisis in 2008-2010 occurred with a devastating outcome on world economy, it started new discussions and debates on the global impacts of Neo-capitalist systems. And in 2011, upon the centenary of Schumacher, numerous economists and analysts have started re-evaluating and re-presuming his approaches.

As for Schumacher, the drive for unlimited profit making and progress inevitably causes an unrestrainable alienation effect on the individual to his/her society where the giant enterprises and organizations presume and qualify those individuals only if they act in accordance with the system itself. Thus, this ongoing vicious circle creates a vast waste of resources, environmental pollution and inhuman working conditions. In recent definitions of Modernism, the term of ‘production’ is presumed as a solved process, based on the assumption that a comprehensive solution is always possible as long as the developed countries keep transferring the means of education and technology to the underdeveloped countries. At this very point, Schumacher raises a question replied by an immediate answer of his own: ‘What can I really do?’ The answer is not only simple but surprising, too: ‘Each and every one of us should try to pull himself/herself together. What will lead us in our effort is neither science nor technology with its sustained value and goal. The enlightenment and rescue lie in the traditional wisdom of humanity itself.’* And after 40 years, we know that we are still going through the same path. We also know that the present production system that is focused on continuous growth, big-scale economies and greatness will inevitably end up in exhaustion of natural resources. And we are well aware of the fact that we have to achieve a new economic system with new production and consumption techniques for a sustainable way of life. But at the same time, we keep discussing the posit ion of art within the existing system and we believe that this system, focused on constant growth, is continuously interfering with the artworks on its content and form which, in return, leave the artists in the middle of a relentless struggle. As we analyze the works of the artists from Turkey and from other countries in terms of a relational affinity of aesthetics to the aforementioned interference, we observe that Schumacher’s approach constitutes an important background.

We cannot ignore the fact that the artists’ approaches and their works, if had been presumed by the system itself, could have and still can easily produce a mutual support and reciprocity. Our proposition via the present exhibition is that the artists produce their works by asking themselves the question ‘what can I really do?’ and the meaning of these works, in terms of aesthetics, notion and social responsibility is of great value. So, contrary to the concept of ‘greatness’, which is constantly being imposed by the economic systems, we claim and insist that ‘Small is Beautiful’.

Beral Madra

* Küçük Güzeldir (Small is Beautiful/A Study of Economics As If People Mattered) E. F. Schumacher, Varlık Publications, Istanbul 2010 (pp.356)