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Win Conditioned

April 28 - May 13, 2023

The Anderson, Richmond, Virginia

Whee! Like An Arrow, 2023
Acrylic tubing, dog courser, ferret corpse, shed, steel, pvc, hardware, 12' x 5' x 14'
Senta, 2023
Pigment print on canvas, 4' x 6'

Great day of judgment, nearing slow
When wilt thou dawn and chase my night?
When comes it, that o’erwhelming blow,
Which strikes the world with crushing might?
When all the dead are rais’d again
Destruction I shall then attain,
Ye worlds, your course continue not!
–Richard Wagner, The Flying Dutchman

Win Conditioned is an exhibition concerned with what philosopher Byung-Chal Han has called “The Achievement Subject.” In The Agony of Eros (2012), Han describes the narcissistic, depressive, self-oppressive subjects of contemporary capitalism as no longer subjects but “projects” to be constantly refashioned and reinvented. The “Achievement Subject” is wrought by an excess of positivity because “today, negativity is disappearing everywhere. Everything is being flattened out into an object of consumption.” For Byung-Chal Han, this flattened world of positivity creates an “inferno of the same:'' a never-ending present, an endless work week, a logistics of ever accelerating deliveries, remakes and sequels.

Whee! Like An Arrow, the kinetic sculpture at the center of the exhibition, is designed around a lure coursing machine. A lure coursing machine is the type of machine used to race dogs by dragging a lure, in this case the pelt of a ferret, at high speed in a loop. In Whee! Like An Arrow the lure courser has been designed to operate at human eye- level, suspended by, as well as protected and displayed within, sixty feet of clear acrylic tubing.

In Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman, a ship crewed by deathless traders is cursed to sail eternally. Only a woman who promises herself to the captain of the ship until death can break the curse of the crew's eternal life. Every seven years, The Dutchman is allowed on shore to search for his future betrothed. On one such visit he meets Senta (whom the photograph in the exhibition is titled after). Senta takes pity on the “palid” Dutchman. Her pity is so extreme she swears to love him unto death and to prove it, throws herself off a cliff (Whee!), sacrificing herself and breaking the curse.
Win Conditioned presents a crucial crux of life within the inferno of the same: We are entranced by the impossible spectacle of our lives–our speed and intensity and color–and we are depressed–unable to work towards anything other than winning at our own individual goals, unable to live any time but the eternal present.