`In the future the idea of youth won"t make sense
anymore as everyone will try to dress, think and act
as an eternal young (wo)man."
If Marc Augé coined successfully the concept "non-places" in the 90s, we could rely on this idea as a starting point and launch the concept "non-age" as a term that in a challenging manner reflects the complexity of ageing in our hyper-consumer society.
As such, "The Non-Age" too questions relational, historical or sociological ideas and preconceptions concerned with ageing and old age, and especially the relationship that individuals have with this "new adulthood" in terms of income, health, social relationships, aesthetic image, and leisure.
Why the "non-age"? "Because we are experiencing –explains Paco Barragán, co-curator- progressively a canon of age in which youth, maturity, and adulthood become, both mentally and physically, one sole category within which the problems of youth become a concept that refers to the problems of any one of us in general, independent of his or her age. These "new adults" pursue goals by means of attitudes and strategies that, according to our puritan society, do not coincide with those commonly associated to or concerned with their age.´
"Consumer society has imposed in the media a young, fresh, healthy, and an uncompromised body. And plastic surgery aims to achieve "persons without age" –suggests Oliver Kielmayer, director of Kunsthalle Winterthur and co-curator-. After all, surgery has become a very convenient and easy tool for some people or resolving aesthetic worries without having to go through (the hell of) the gym or the diet."
If before ageing was associated with old, decrepit, and tired bodies, now it represents a quest for good looking, fibrous, and worked out bodies that contribute to acceptance according to the new social canon.
In "Liquid Love" Zygmunt Bauman analyzes in an intelligent manner the growing fragility of human relations. He concludes that in contemporary society human relations are considered fragile, unstable, and as easy to break as to create. Adults want to start new and at the same time more "liquid" relationships: relationships which are more open, more uncompromising, less traditional, and, above all easy to drop, as most of them –unlike in their earlier lives- feel their freedom particularly in the capacity of dissociating oneself from another person or situation.
These new attitudes question our preconceived notions on sexuality, ageing, and the representations of the body and constitute a clear break from many of the social taboos of our contemporary society.
Age, Anxiety and Solitude
Traditionally speaking, ageing has been compared with a disease. Once a person retires, the State retires them from life: they become a member of the passive class and a burden for a society. This produces situations of anxiety, solitude, anger and alienation. We thus find that a majority of elders, especially men, that have identified themselves throughout their lives exclusively with an active working life, which now is no longer there, suffering from a lack of self-esteem and a sense of uselessness.
Instead of being stigmatized as a burden, today"s elderly claim a new conceptual sense of old age.
The artists showcased in the exhibition "The Non-Age" reflect in their work both the quest for a new way of understanding and experimenting the intense process of "ageing", as well as poignant sentiments like solitude, anxiety, and fear of age and death that inevitably go with it.
Jean Jacques Rousseau one said "we have to oblige the person to be free"; paraphrasing him we could affirm that now society with its obsession for youth "wants to oblige the person to be young".
Miguel Angel Aguirre (Peru), Jesús Segura (Spain), Erwin Olaf (The Netherlands), Peter Granser (Germany), Ana de Matos (Spain), Luis Molina-Pantin (Venezuela), Dani Marti (Australia/Scotland) Sabine Dehnel (Germany), and Thomas Zoll (Switzerland).
Paco Barragán, Oliver Kielmayer (director Kunsthalle Winterthur)
Co-production of Kunsthalle Winterthur (Winterthur, Switzerland) and Bienal de Lanzarote (Spain)
6 June- 31 July 2009 Kunsthalle Winthertur; Bienal de la Lanzarote -19 October 2009 – 19 January 2010
The show is open to itinerate to other venues after February 2010.