Excess and Refusal

Artists: Be Oakley, Rebecca Jagoe, Sandra Kosorotova, Hanna Kisch, Agu Pilt, Pire Sova & Ando Naulainen, Women’s History Museum
Curated by: Keiu Krikmann
 Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia
December 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021

The exhibition is centered around the notions of excess and refusal as artistic and lived practices. The two are, in fact, a contingent pair – often excess is achieved through refusal and refusal is enforced because of excess.

Our understanding of excess relies on the idea of existence of limits to what is acceptable – politically, culturally, in our private and public lives etc. Refusal or inability to abide by these limits – to step outside the acceptable – produces what is perceived as excess, often with connotations of immorality. Attributing excess to individuals or groups is used as a tool to marginalise based on gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, class etc. Declaring someone or something excessive is also a way to refuse access, means and power. However, from this a conscious refusal by marginalised positions can emerge as a powerful strategy for reclaiming one’s agency. Similarly, in the context of this exhibition, excess is understood not as commodified luxury but as opulence against constrictions.

Historically, ideas of excess, opulence, luxury and abundance have been associated with a rather negative image and linked to frivolity, unseriousness and unintellectuality. In art, for example, these alignments have allowed disregarding a wide array of artistic practices as sidenotes to “Great Art”. In the context of this dichotomy and while refusing to be subjected to it, the artists in the show use excess as a tool for invention, both aesthetically and conceptually. They place the notions of refusal and excess into various contexts and themes: gender and activism, queerness, abjection and grotesque, health and illness, performativity, community building and experimentation.

This is a quest for an imaginative opulence.