theoretical (adjective) – [purely] conceptual, not
[sufficiently] respecting reality – Duden
“How are you doing?” We’re confronted with this question
about our own wellbeing every single day. On the one hand
it’s small talk, an opening gambit for all kinds of analogue
and digital conversations. Yet it’s also possibly the most
intimate question you can ask someone without apparently
disregarding boundaries altogether. It’s a question that addresses
the recipients directly, takes them as they are, expresses
an interest in them personally. Or it seems to leave
them to themselves. In some cases, the promoter standing
in front of a restaurant calling out “Hey! How are you?”
might achieve more than just stopping us in our tracks. We
could, in fact, actually end up briefly asking ourselves what
state we really are in, besides we make a decision about
whether we should look more closely at what they have to
offer, or if we should just move on. We could come to the
conclusion: “Good. I’m doing good.”
But is “good” as good as it gets? What would be an
optimal situation? When are body and mind in harmony?
Who determines when “good” has been achieved? Does
the “in theory” preceding “I’m doing fine” in the exhibition
title testify to a deficiency? Is it about actual wellbeing or
simply about challenging what we consider to be good?
And when is it no longer about the individual, when is this
“good” transposed to the social or economic level?
An honest answer to the simple question “How are you
doing?” would reveal vulnerability. Thus, the question essentially
compels us to take evasive action. Inasmuch as
In theory, I’m fine there is a danger of not corresponding to expectations or
norms, violating societal stereotypes or losing the affiliation
to a group, the question of one’s own wellbeing swiftly
exposes the fragility of internal and external circumstances.
In the process we are permanently under observation –
and these are observations that we subject ourselves to,
but also those emanating from the society we would like to
belong to. We constantly experience actions being classified,
categorised and standardised, with the consequence
that we try to become better in order to make our own
existence meaningful. But this is something we only receive
through external legitimation, and it can only work by
means of comparison.
The demands and categorisations of society specify
role models that we conform to, and these determine how
we experience our bodies.
In theory, I’m fine is a unique cooperation between
Kunsthalle Mainz and Mainzer Taubertsbergbad: five international
contemporary artists explore this statement and
its implications in an exhibition space and a swimming pool,
integrating the human body into sensual multimedia negotiations.
The group exhibition In theory, I’m fine invites the
visitor to explore the body as material via which the world
and its boundaries can be felt, and view it as a surface for
projecting both their own expectations and those of others.