Property: something protected or shared or forcefully taken, something gained or lost or desired or enjoyed. Private property plays a role in well-being, some philosophers have argued, but it’s also been the basis for all kinds of exploitation, as history has shown. Either way, so much has come to rest on this concept. It’s an abstract idea that shapes concrete reality in profound ways, shadowed by questions of who owns what, and why, and the friction of public and private interests. As time goes by, property also comes in many different forms: some are physical, others increasingly intangible, some deeply familiar and others leading toward unknown horizons.
Fear of Property develops out of ongoing conversations with artists around these ideas, various related histories and emerging futures, and a range of lived experiences in between. The exhibition also gradually builds on the intuition that property organizes not only social and economic relations, but dimensions of emotional life today as well. The works on view have their own unique contours of feeling as such, even as they draw out concerns around ownership and agency, land and the buildings we inhabit, caretaking, culture and language, artificial intelligence, and more. And some of them might hint at ways of being in the world that aren’t framed in terms of “property” at all.
The exhibition title itself is drawn from an essay by cultural anthropologist Cameron Hu, where he speaks to the underlying logics of futures trading while reflecting on the work of artists Marissa Benedict, Daniel de Paula, and David Rueter. His closing insight in that essay, a “fear of property,” points to disembodied financial inventions that still ripple outward today. In this exhibition, his concept opens up other paths for thought, too, spreading out into many different contexts.
Presented concurrently in two settings, Fear of Property features works by thirteen artists installed in the gallery and six videos by Karrabing Film Collective, Pedro Neves Marques and Andrew Norman Wilson online at Renaissance TV, where they can be viewed throughout the run of the show.
Curated by Karsten Lund.
Fear of Property was made possible through the generous support of the Van Wart/Keable Family.
Major annual support for the Renaissance Society is provided by 247 and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Additional support is provided by The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince and The Provost’s Discretionary Fund at the University of Chicago. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
All Renaissance Society publications are made possible by The Mansueto Foundation Publications Program.
The Study at University of Chicago is the Renaissance Society’s Exclusive Hotel Sponsor.