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Essays & Catalogue Texts

Jeremy Shaw: Effects and Affects in a Crisis of Authenticity

In: Kunstpreis Böttscherstrasse Prize Bremen 2018

Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen, 118–124.



…The strategy of Shaw’s work is timely in an era where the production of facts in contemporary culture plays a significant role in the formation of public opinions that make up the current political landscape. Populist media uses effects and affects such as dramatic news footage of terrorist attacks, racial stereotyping and reaction-shots of citizens and politicians to produce a feedback loop of causes and effects. The goal of this news-cycle is to sell certainty in the telling of history as it happens. Human life is reduced to the governing of bare, animal existence, survival. Shaw’s work resists this production of certainty. The crisis of authenticity presented in these films relocates the fundamental fear of death to the site of a struggle for a sense of belonging in the complexity of human meaning itself. In this suspension of belief and disbelief, Shaw’s work is able to reveal a struggle between the search for truth and the desire for people to style their own forms of life through self-organization and expression, in opposition to dominant forms of governance and opinion-formation. The work begs the question, is contemporary art a suitable site for the self-stylization of a form of life?