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Point of view

2018

In the works created in the context of his Artist Development Award and accompanying residency at the European Investment Bank, in Luxembourg, Bill Balaskas expanded his exploration of utopianism and its limits – a central theme in both his artistic and theoretical research. By constantly oscillating between the present and the past, his works interrogated in different ways the project of the Enlightenment, and the relevance of its key principles of rationality, progress, and social transformation to the current historical conjuncture. In 'Point of View', Balaskas brings together two old pieces of furniture that symbolically represent two different approaches to the nature of truth: faith and factuality. However, the prie-dieu and the school desk that comprise the installation are not positioned opposite each other, or in any other arrangement that would signify some sort of antagonism or antithesis; instead, they are both facing the very same spot on the wall, which is indicated by a small white dot sticker. Our time is characterised by the regular merging of subjective personal beliefs and objective facts, as we experience the rapid rise of a post-truth world. Notably, the proliferation of "fake news" and "alternative facts" has been credited as one of the most important catalysts for recent political and social developments around the globe – from Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the spread of the anti-vaccination movement, and beyond. However, post-factuality did not appear within a cultural void. On the contrary, the manipulation of psychological and social factors for political, economic, or other purposes constitutes only part of a much larger cultural shift. Fuelled by the visual language of social media and the economic exploitation of data, post-truth defines all aspects of our lives by defining all aspects of our visuality: from the graphic interfaces that we use for our everyday communication, to the algorithmic interfaces that conduct our economic dealings. In spite of the omnipresence of such tools, however, their modus operandi is not visible with ease – they collectively constitute a "blind spot". Those conditions produced by post-truth threaten the project of the Enlightenment in the most unexpected manner: through the very technologies that were supposed to signal the irreversible realization of its aspirations. Investing in science, education and culture as a means to attain the truth is now contested on an everyday basis, as truth itself is contested on the most elemental level: does it even need to exist? Is it necessary?

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