bad news

The concept of this exhibition emerged from one of our previous exhibitions
dedicated to the notion of beauty. It turned out that contemporary beauty tends to manifest itself in the images of tragic events and disasters. Besides, we were also aware of the immense popularity enjoyed by the World Press Photo contest and similar events. Finally, the critical factor prompting us to create an exhibition wholly dedicated to "Bad News" was media violence inflicted on viewers who are bombarded with bad news constructing our perception of the world.

We live in a world appropriated by media and their images. Events don't actually
exist without being broadcast on television, which 'creates' them and makes them look
TV news programmes are not harmless, though, broadcasting far more war reports, information on accidents, disasters, deaths of innocent victims and their murderers, acts of terror etc. than any positive messages. The viewer has the impression that
horrible things happen all the time, that the world is constantly endangered and it cannot be helped. After all, as the journalist saying goes: "Good news is bad news".

The amount of information as well as the way it is presented makes the news resemble
entertainment shows and their fragmentary nature leaves the viewer with a mere illusion of truth. What we are dealing with here is an excess of meaning, which, instead of explaining the world, generates a complete confusion. Real catastrophes become fiction when presented in the media. They are fiction pretending to be real by appearing more 'real' than the truth.
The impression of exaggerated reality and the sense of it being more important than ordinary life is further reinforced by the fact that the viewers' everyday life differs considerably from the violent realm of disasters, crime and evil. So, on a deeper level, the exhibition touches upon the relationship between art and reality. Analyzing the language of the media, it examines the ambiguous and indirect relations between information and sense. Information is employed to construct a superstructure of new reality upon the existing one. This is what the French
philosopher Jean Baudrillard calls 'hyperreality'.

At the same time, there ensues a process of aestheticization of bad news, which is
characteristic of mass culture and market mechanisms. This aestheticization may further increase the persuasive force of the image, appeal to emotions and influence the viewers' perception.

We aim to investigate the specific nature of the media and the mechanisms of their development which contributed to the present situation. We also want to consider any
potential ways of deconstructing the message, transforming it, or simply adopting a critical approach. Our project is intended to help the audience distance themselves from the media, offer them tools to analyze them and, in the first place, make them aware that the truth presented to us in the media is in fact a construct. We also wish to provoke reflection on media ethics and pose some important questions. Can we show everything today? Where are the limits which cannot be surpassed? Do the media have to assault human dignity and privacy, explaining it away as the need to inform
of events all over the world? Do they have to shock us?

The distinctive features of contemporary images are the deficit of truth for the sake of politics and aesthetics. It is precisely these two principal themes that keep repeating themselves in our exhibition. On the one hand, art endeavors to touch reality, quoting it and using the exact language of the media: the jargon of TV news and the Internet, amateur photographs and colloquial expressions. It is political, grass roots art bordering on social activism, referring to street aesthetics (graffiti, stickers). It has the air of an authentic statement, a protest against
the violence of media images and may be regarded as politically and socially committed. This approach may be found in the works of Carla Cruz, Guma Guar, Janek Simon or Sean Snyder. Additionally, Zbigniew Libera embarks on an analysis of the media language in his "Positives" ("Pozytywy"), dealing with the truth in the news.

On the other hand, "Bad News" also presents works of a quite different nature.
Their authors - Christoph Draeger, Antoine Prum, Wilhelm Sasnal - aim at creating a simulation of reality. The distinction between the true and the superficial is blurred and there follows also a decline of meaning. Prum's films of excellent workmanship or Draeger's detailed reconstruction are attempts to exceed the reality itself.

The two themes mentioned above entwine in the work by Jon Mikel Euba. The artist
examines the language and convention of film images, combining mastery of skill with
"dirty aesthetics".

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