A Worthy Degenerate
A group exhibition by
Sara El Adl
Hito Steyerl fervently defends the poor image. The low-resolution degenerate: what she calls “the wretched of the screen,” the image that lives on the Internet. The bootlegged and the widely circulated bad versions of their more visually superior counterparts speak of the rich image’s marginalization. The good image of experimental film and video art may be be stored in archives, screened occasionally, like a dinosaur on tour. The work of the sidelined cinephiles that were ostracized by commercial platforms have thus been reproduced in poor image, “whether they like it or not.”
In some instances, one can make the observation that the natural cycles of the norm and the counter-norm dictate that the original poor image might appear as a reaction, as a conscious or a subconscious revolution against the high-definition, over-aestheticization of both the commercial and the experimental.
“A Worthy Degenerate” is an exhibition that thinks about the “poor image” as an original in itself beyond this endless feedback loop. Steyerl claims that the poor image is not assigned any value within the hierarchy of images; it is in need of defense as it nobly supplements the content of the rich image, keeping it alive. But the poor image has a valuable existence. Hasn’t it taken up its place in media, film and artistic production? Doesn’t it also live in galleries and museum spaces alongside the 35mm stunners? Hasn’t it been internalized into this marginalized community of the experimental as an original?
In our postmodern landscape, to glance upon the poor image is to provide for the admittance of reality, a move away from the escapism that denies material surroundings, the root of imagination. Exhibited here is a world of content that is created by the poor image.
This exhibition is in partnership with Goethe-Institut.