To a hitherto unknown extent, social and political processes are now touching upon the most intimate spheres of human beings. New structures of communication carry messages and images into our inner worlds, unfiltered and at any moment. This means – and so runs the exhibition’s hypothesis – that the psyche is becoming more and more an arena of the political.

In a globalised world this phenomenon is not restricted to the Western hemisphere. Quite to the contrary: it has a universal effect. The world might be moving closer together but interior landscapes, mental images and reactions which comes from outside are shaped by cultural and social processes.

The exhibition at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden examines processes and poses the question of how these experiences, which are so different all across the globe, can be made visible through art. The exhibition presents the positions of ten international artists who deal with the perception of the self and its transformation into the external world. Against the backdrop of their life experiences in different regions of the world – from the US West Coast over China, Europe to North Africa – they attest to a global interest in the subject as well as heterogenous experiences.

One such example is the work “Reason’s Oxymorons” by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia (1970) by focusing on collective inner worlds. Through interviews with European and African therapists, historians, imams, priests, psychologists and ethnologists, Attia shows that the formation and treatment of the psyche is a form of learned and culturally determined knowledge. In so doing the artist negates the assumption that there is a universal basic mental structure which exists in all cultures, and exposes Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis as a Western construct.


Psyche and Politics gathers works by:

Kader Attia, Heidi Bucher, Omer Fast, Dan Finsel, Samara Golden, Liz Magic Laser, Jim Shaw, Wang Tuo, Jorinde Voigt, Chen Zhe

With works from the Prinzhorn Collection, by: Ludwig Berthold, Else Blankenhorn, Minna Köchler, Wilhelm Werner, Hyacinth Freiherr von Wieser

Psyche and Politics is the next instalment in a series of exhibitions such as Bilderbedarf. The Civic and the Arts (2012) and Power of the Powerless (2013), focusing on the multifacted importance of art in a globalised social discourse in the 21st century.