CHRISTOPHER L.G. HILL
Navel-gazing explores the urge to self-reflect in contemporary artistic practice, featuring works that turn inward to examine the conditions of their own existence within the gallery and the wider world. Acknowledging reflexivity (for better or worse) as something of a definitive condition for the contemporary subject, such works surface as manifestations of an art world in the throes of self-analysis.
The exhibition offers a reading of this tendency that posits it at once a form of auto-institutional critique and, more radically, as a reformulation of the ‘art for art’s sake’ ethos of historical formalism. The perceived gulf between these two stances is reconsidered through the work of the eight artists in this exhibition.
Navel-gazing is a Utopian Slumps Second Round (USSR) project. USSR, a non-profit subsidiary of Utopian Slumps, addresses an aspect of this critical reflexivity at a structural level: the difficulties of interrogating while accommodating the given institutionalised art system. Whether this sits uncomfortably at odds with or at ease within the exhibition’s critical framework is a problem ripe for interrogation.