THOMAS KVAM – SchizoLeaks
SchizoLeaks – Thomas Kvam’s first museum exhibition
“SchizoLeaks” is Thomas Kvam’s first museum exhibition and presents three parts of the artist’s most comprehensive project in which he makes use of “leaks» as a creative or practical tool.
Over the last decade Kvam has worked with some of the most unpleasant and inflammatory phenomena of his time – from war crimes to school massacres, racism and being exluded from common experiences – in what he, referencing Edvard Munch, calls his «frieze of evil”. Kvam collects information that is often hidden or inaccessible and transforms it into a comprehensive universe of codes and references. Often Kvam’s use of such information has exposed him to attempts at censorship. Several of the exhibition’s projects thus relate directly to recent discussions about freedom of speech in the art world.
The exhibition contains what many undoubtedbly will find to be an almost overwhelming amount of information, and as such it serves as a mirror image of precisely the technology-driven reality Kvam is trying to grasp in his work. Inspired by postmodern media theorists and activists such as Julian Assange Kvam attempts to figure out what happens to humanity when influential phenomena in society increasingly push us as humans towards being solely the commodity that is being sold throughout the digital realm’s algorithm-based machinery of the attention economy. The digital media reality today mostly attempts at getting us to spend as much time as possible on specific websites, in specific apps, within specific gaming worlds.
The question that arises is what happens to us as human beings and our ability to relate to each other on a moral level when our social relationships are always filtered through these countless digital media and platforms. When we see our fellow human beings increasingly as fictions or avatars we enter a situation similar to the dehumanisation of “the other” by traditional racism.
We clearly see Kvam’s interest in these questions in projects such as Rantology, nowthatsfuckedup / Krieg dem Krige and Eurobeing. Common to them all is precisely the ability we humans have to suppress our empathic sides, and how this facilitates enmity, discrimination and, ultimately, violence.
After a year and a half during which we have been living under the ever-changing, but constantly extremely stressful conditions created by a global pandemic, these questions about interpersonal relationships appear to be more relevant than ever.
In her essay for the book that is being published on the occasion of the exhibition art historian Evelyn Holm writes: “Stepping into Thomas Kvam’s artistic universe is demanding, painful, upsetting and confrontational, but also ridiculous, absurd and overwhelming. Kvam’s art possesses a wealth of information and a complexity that in its modes of presentation at times can seem both aggressive and rude. However, coming to terms with that which is actually being presented to us can be dizzying, and even heartbreaking.”