Not all is well in the (alp-)rose garden?
In the midst of wealth and dynamic urban change a group of artists are manifesting their disquiet, or more urgently their angst about what extreme wealth is inflicting on those without access to any of it. Their work expresses how over-confidence is affecting those who do not subscribe to violence, domination and power over fellow beings.
In a classical small pavilion situated in the old botanical garden of Munich, right opposite an imperial boulevard and the palace of justice which oozes past glory and present power, some local artists were exhibiting their installations and paintings to express their bewilderment.
Reason vs Humanity
They called their show ‘reason engenders monsters’ (Die Vernunft gebiert Ungeheuer). It is borrowed from the title of one of Goya’s etchings from his caprichos series produced in 1799. He entitled it the ‘sleep of reason produces monsters’ in response to the inroads made by the era of the enlightenment and its postulate that reason would bring about better political and economic conditions while all ills would be explained by the absence of reason.
Indeed, since then operational reason has managed to stave off starvation, reduce epidemics, increase productivity of labour, yet reason has also engendered fascism, the holocaust, the nuclear bomb, and increasingly polarised societies where extreme wealth opposes poverty and destitution among what is often labelled off as the underclass.
The artists are asking whether the ‘dream of reason’ is necessarily engendering inhumanity. The exhibition amounts to a critique of instrumental reason with reflections on alternative futures which use reason as a means to a more humane end.