Ressentiment [French for resentment] intends much more than a stereotype or negative image. Resentments in fact develop in the shadow of an experienced humiliation and structure the relationship between the inferior and the superior. Since resentments can be instrumentalised with extreme ease they currently serve many authoritarian or nationalistic politicians as accelerators for an international conflagration which they themselves have unleashed. This politics of resentment knows how to bring to light the blocked and repressed feelings of inferiority among the general population in an eruptive manner – and how to use them for its own ends. The energy and dynamism of this strategy is evident in the political successes of those who use it. The tactic is one of massive simplification that refuses to inquire further, formulates problems in terms of friends and enemies and automatically declares individuals who think differently to be opponents.

Obviously, artists adopt various strategies in response to these developments which are shattering democracy. While some artists concentrate on formal, art-immanent, self-reflective issues, there are others who become engaged in social or political projects; still other artists turn a critical vision toward processes of social transformation and create a form of alternative public.

The element connecting all these tendencies is an absolute freedom of art, a freedom that was achieved with great effort. The exhibition wants to bring to expression this inherent strength of art. Thus the artworks on display are far more than mere evidence of dealing with resentment. They are statements that respond to dissent – but can also “diss” the viewer – and thereby take seriously the opinions of others as relevant self-expression by thoughtful individuals.

View or download Le Bulletin №2: Ressentiment
Kulturen des Dissens as a PDF file popup:yes

Related Bulletin

Le Bulletin № 2 - Deutsche Ausgabe
Le Bulletin № 2 - English issue
Le Bulletin № 2 - Édition française

Exhibition view, RESSENTIMENT Kulturen des Dissens, © IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art