Speak, Lokal. March 4–May 7, 2017. Kunsthalle Zürich. Zurich – Switzerland

The exhibition Speak, Lokal focuses on how artists worldwide investigate and broach local conditions. All sorts of artistic practices come into play, from activism to “archivism”, from photography to graphic novels, from documentaries to performances and research based communal efforts. Paradoxically, the restricted and highly connoted territory of the Local is perceived as a place of autonomy and liberation. It is a space where precision makes a difference to uncover discrepancies, where clairvoyance turns into relevance and passion into resistance. If Speak, Lokal is foremost an optimistic proposition, it does not gloss over the ambiguity of the Local as it neighbors on the territories of nationalism, provincialism, and commercialism – typified in the well-known slogan “Buy Local!”. It is only a small step from regionalism to homeland security and building walls, and “Buy Local!” becomes “Us first!”. After all, the Local has been gone for a long time; today it is no more than a fiction or rather, a powerful phantasy. In fact, the Local is the expression of the all pervading and more fundamental question of belonging. For decades, this has seemed to be a question of progress, but within a few years, “belonging” has turned into a battlefield dominated by class, race, religion, and nation. As belonging is turning into exclusion (“You are not…”), the artists in the show at Kunsthalle Zürich present their alternative visions and languages, whether they are from Dhaka, New York, Dubai, or Zurich.

With Yuji Agematsu (New York), Sarnath Banerjee (Berlin/Delhi), FPBJPC (New York), Ramin Haerizadeh/Rokni Haerizadeh/Hesam Rahmanian (Dubai/Teheran), Chantal Kaufmann/Marc Hunziker/Rafal Skoczek (Zurich), Samsul Alam Helal (Dhaka), Nana Kipiani (Tbilisi), Maggie Lee (New York), Sally Schonfeldt (Zurich/Adelaide), Rafiqul Shuvo (Dhaka/Vienna), Ramaya Tegegne (Geneva), Theory Tuesdays / Philip Matesic (Zurich), Piotr Uklański (New York/Warsaw), Shirin Yousefi (Lausanne/Teheran)