João Laia, Chief Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Also published in Leevi Haapala, João Laia, Jari-Pekka Vanhala (eds.), ARS22: Eläviä kohtaamisia – Living Encounters. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 173/2022. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma & Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2022.
We live in a time of generalised crisis. Developments in ecology, economics, health, labour, migration, politics, technology, and beyond have triggered an ‘emergency convergence’ through which these fields manifest as part of a cumulative, integrated movement. Yet despite this confluence, translated in the mutual implication and global reach of this manifold crisis, such coalition does not unify the world and its agents under identical conditions. Defined by the feminist theorist Rosi Braidotti as a technologically mediated interlinking with the ‘natural-culture continuum of our terrestrial milieu’, the webbed composition of life on Earth also includes differences regarding human geographical location and/or ‘access to social and legal entitlements, technologies, safety, prosperity, and good health services’. In fact, accrued historically through processes of domination and exclusion, inequality has in recent times expanded around the world, although – and depending on their contextual inscription – each actor perceives the impacts of these intensifying tensions differently. In Braidotti’s words, ‘(t)he sexualised others (non-binary, women, LBGTQ+); the racialised others (non-Europeans, indigenous); and the naturalised others (animals, plants, the Earth)’ have permanently throughout history been closer to any given crisis.
The urgent features of the current situation have given rise to a generalised sense of anxiety and menace. For Braidotti, ‘(e)xhaustion and fatigue – a recurrent sense of hopelessness and impossibility – have become prominent features of the contemporary psychic landscapes’, functioning as ‘witnesses to the daily and nightly struggles to come to terms with what our world has become and the complexities of our historical context’. The accumulation and overlapping of fatigue, fear, and despair generates feelings of impotence, ‘a social and psychological dimming of a sense of possibility, which triggers a systemic fragmentation and a shattering of our relational capacity’. Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi also identifies a current inability emotionally and rationally to process current events, whose speed is intensifying, leading to nervous overstimulation. Berardi names this state of things ‘chaos’, articulating it as both ‘the measure of the complexity of the world in relation to the capacities of intellectual reduction’ and ‘the excessive density of the infosphere in relation to the psychosphere’. Such argument adds the imprint of technology to the context described by Braidotti, underlining how the digitally led exponential increase of information flows has contributed to the exhaustion of the contemporary psychic landscape and an erosion of collective affinities.
 Rosi Braidotti. ‘“We” Are in This Together, But We Are Not One and the Same’, Bioethical Inquiry 17 (2020), 465–69.
 Braidotti, ‘“We’ Are in This Together…’, 465–69.
 Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility. London and New York: Verso, 2017, 2.
Featured image: Installation view of Jenna Sutela’s I Magma, 2019, comprising head-shaped lava lamps and mobile app, on display in ‘ARS22 Living Encounters’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen
Read more — Download ‘ARS22 – Living Encounters’, by João Laia, as a PDF
’ARS22 Living Encounters’, until 16 October 2022, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
Leevi Haapala, João Laia, Jari-Pekka Vanhala (eds.), ARS22: Eläviä kohtaamisia – Living Encounters. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 173/2022. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma & Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2022, available from the Finnish National Gallery’s webshop, https://museoshop.fi/en/product/ars22-elavia-kohtaamisia-living-encounters/