English / Deutsch

Gagosian Gallery


Curated by Martin Germann


With: Gerry Bibby, Henning Bohl, Peter Coffin, Simone Gilges, Judith Hopf, Kim Hiorthøy, Chris Johanson, Sean Landers, Tere Recarens, Mungo Thomson, Kerry Tribe, Geerten Verheus, Katharina Wulff

The works in Happiness all attempted to illustrate collective and individual memories, as well as the struggle and desire for certain ideal physical and mental states—often using pop culture references—including bliss, euphoria, buoyancy and happiness.

In contemporary colloquial speech, the original ‘good life’ of moral philosophy and ancient Greece that is associated with the notion of happiness is usually replaced by a more hedonistic idea of fun. Moreover, ‘happiness’ is a word used so frequently and in so many different contexts that it has become an international expression, a universal shorthand for which the German language, seems to have no native equivalent. Neither unpredictable ‘Glück’ (luck or fortune), nor light-hearted ‘Fröhlichkeit’ (cheerful or merriment) adequately describes ‘happiness’. Germans often use the English word to express a brief, fleeting sensation that expires the very moment it arises.

Within this frame of reference, many of the works in the exhibition revealed a remarkable sense of capriciousness and tended towards the ephemeral. Subject matter and first impressions or assumptions fade quickly, which was one of the essential features of these works. That brief feeling of happiness, like the feeling a good pop song evokes; that perfect moment when you reach an epiphany that emerges out of an amalgamation of other harmonies and sensations.