For a growing number of contemporary artists and thinkers, the ontology of objects has prompted new investigations and modes of making. Perhaps in reaction to the dominance of screens and images in our daily life, artistic practice has embraced the object-as-thing: estranged, powerful and physical. A like-minded investment in materiality can be observed among the 20 artists in this exhibition. The Intelligence of Things presents these artists’ practices, which attest to the importance of the object in contemporary life. In these works, spanning different aesthetics and mediums—painting, performance, photography, video, sculpture and installation—objects become ciphers for memory, desire and fantasy. Far from simple gestures, the things in these works articulate their place as icons and bodily analogs, and as protagonists in interiors, architectural spaces and the scope of history.
The exhibition privileges the role of the displayed objects over any overarching curatorial concept. As a title The Intelligence of Things both emphasizes this approach and illuminates these artworks’ powerful effect and affect. That is to say that following Kant’s purposeful purposelessness, these artworks upend our notions of a thing’s effect or intent, and each one has a particular character, demeanor, and accent—whether fierce or foppish. The Intelligence of Things brings together a group of works that resist clear categorization and do not adhere to rigid stylistic doctrines. The exhibition and the works therein, rather, critically explore how things and human subjects together produce meaning in the world.