Home > Past Exhibitions > Nothing Is Impossible

Karl Burke Rhona Byrne Brian Griffiths
Bea McMahon Dennis McNulty The Curators

Nothing is impossible.

If we consider that nothing is impossible and that anything can happen, how would we live differently? What could we envision? Where could we be? What can we hope for? What are the implications if we banish contemporary constrictions and delimitations of thinking?

In his book The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology Slovenian philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj Žižek critiques the notion that the only good ideas are those that work. He contends that this supposition automatically assumes a global capitalist ideology; for ideas to work they must make sense and be profitable. Žižek argues that contemporary thought is constricted to what is possible, obstructing what he defines as “genuine politics”; the art of what is impossible. It is the impossible which offers us a new landscape for this moment, altering the parameters of the present and the future. As he states, “it changes the very parameters of what is considered ‘possible’ in the existing constellation.”

Artistic practice is considered a method of re-thinking our relationship with the world, of posing other possibilities, other narratives. The working material of the artist becomes the hidden and mutable possibilities of the physical, the social, the scientific and the political. A relationship between thinking and form is developed. This extension of the imaginary and confrontation of reality asks us to consider what role we play in the way things are.

In 1999 curator Sheena Wagstaff applauded the affirmation by the Mattress Factory directors, Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk, that “nothing is impossible.” In the development of this project, five artists – Karl Burke, Rhona Byrne, Brian Griffiths, Bea McMahon and Dennis McNulty – were invited to spend a period of two months researching and developing work in Pittsburgh, and to consider the potential of this invitation and the impossible.

Mark Garry & Georgina Jackson

This exhibition is the first in a series curated by Mark Garry and Georgina Jackson as part of the Mattress Factory’s Curator-in-Residence Program made possible by generous support from The Fine Foundation. Funding from Culture Ireland, Allegheny Regional Asset District, The Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts has made Nothing is impossible, possible.

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