March 4, 2023 – Fuhrwerkswaage Kunstraum, Cologne, Germany


We live in the moment of cognitive capitalism in which the mental worker or cognitariat is sequestered alone in front of multiple screens, desktops and iPhones, swiping to the right and left and scrolling up and down as well as clicking a mouse. These swipes and clicks are recorded and collated to become what is referred to as Big Data. Big Data is then bought and sold to corporations, policing agencies, and governmental bodies to help track their subjects’ likes and dislikes creating, in the end, an algorithmic dividuality used to generate profit and surveillance. It also has a secondary effect of emphasizing certain patterns of choices which generate self-initiated digital feeds that reinforce attitudes and beliefs – in the end creating information silos that separate us. We are further isolated sensorially by the use of earbuds with which to listen to music and podcasts but which also disengages us from the outside world. A gaggle of politicians, well versed in the dispositifs of the new digital attention economy and social media, utilize these digital outcomes to further elaborate new forms of tribal warfare and extremism. As we all know, we are certainly in a very precarious moment. This condition is what Neidich calls dis-solidarity in contradistinction to solidarity, which has a long history of nurturing human bonds and comradery between individuals and workers as a form of emancipatory politics. According to Neidich, we are in a moment of degenerative solidarity.

The artwork DIS-SOLIDARITY uses the institutional structure of the Kunstverein to push back against this alienating condition. DIS-SOLIDARITY embraces and enhances the underlying institutional condition of the Kunstverein for supportive engagement, camaraderie and cohesion. A Kunstverein is constituted by a group of people or comrades who come together to support cultural institutions and dig deep into their own pockets to do so. This work elaborates new forms of togetherness to overcome the conditions of DIS-SOLIDARITY. It engages with their sense of companionship as a reaction against the reigning digital and algorithmic governance. Each member of the Kunstverein purchases one of the letters of the neon artwork and takes it home with them. Each letter has an individual backing and its own transformer. The process requires negotiation as it is probable that one letter or some letters will be preferred by more than one member. It requires kindness, generosity, and flexibility to agree upon the final outcome: the purchase of all letters. Each member takes one letter home and cares for it there until the time comes, to be decided by the group, to reconvene and assemble the work once again in their Kunstverein. It is this annual social engagement and form of togetherness that it generates that constitutes the real meaning of the work. —Warren Neidich, 2023