Do you speak synergy?

February 26 - April 2, 2016

Hasseb Ahmed

Ella Littwitz

Emmanuel Van der Auwera

Benjamin Verhoeven



In his essay “Cézanne’s Doubt,” l French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes Cézanne’s impressionistic and paradoxical approach to painting, and implicitly draws a parallel to his own concept of radical reflection. Looking at the relationship between science and art in the context of Cezanne”s struggle to apply “intelligence, ideas, sciences, perspective, and tradition” to his work, he concludes that theory and practice stand in opposition to each other. He sees art as an attempt to capture an individual’s perception, and science as anti-individualistic. From this perspective, natural science cannot grasp the profundity and subjective depth of the phenomena it endeavors to explain.

Art and science may indeed oppose each other in certain senses, but they also share many things, for example a vigorous research drive that goes beyond practicality. In the currents of contemporary cultural discourse, this characteristic is becoming challenging to maintain, for science and art alike. “Key performance indicators” are applied literally to everything, including the traditionally metaphysical subjects of love and death. Art risks leaning towards the language of “social engagement” in regard to state funding, falling into categories of purely utilitarian design or vanity symbols for luxurious consumption. Science, on the other hand, is getting cornered exclusively into the “applied” category. This process is not a novelty: with constant re-learning and easy forgetting, valuable insights and original perspectives are often lost in favor of the “mode du jour” – sometimes by chance, sometimes in result of deliberate decisions by dominating institutions of a particular time.

The ambition of “Do You Speak Synergy” is to demonstrate the transdisciplinary potential and impact of contemporary art. We invite viewers to analyze and deconstruct the invisible matrix of the acceptable, logical (one-dimensional understanding) and “normal” modes of thinking. One plus one does not necessarily equal anything at all. Thinking beyond definite answers to questions, and challenging the known by un-knowing and re-learning is probably one of the most unique human capabilities. Humans are uniquely able to adapt.

The selected artists share the research language of transdisciplinary inquiry while remaining free from any disciplinary or corporate mandates. Modern physics calls this their “unified field”, which we refer to as “synergy”, where fundamental forces and elementary particles are approached as if they compose a single field – a field of truly universal language.