The philosophical undercurrent to our investigations in Monoculture – A Recent History comes via the notion of ‘ambiguity’. In particular, this is through the pioneering, and under-recognised work of the Polish-Austrian psychoanalyst Else Frenkel-Brunswik.

 In 1950, a group of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley – a philosopher/sociologist and three psychologists: Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt Sanford – published The Authoritarian Personality. They sought an answer to the question of how the destructive ideologies responsible for the atrocities of the Second World War had managed to attract such a huge mass of followers. In her article ‘Personality theory and Perception’ Else Frenkel-Brunswik further elaborates the concept of  'ambiguity intolerance’. With this complex and versatile theory, she examines the connection between the ability to deal with an ambiguous visual language and tolerance for ambiguity in the world, the other and oneself. Ambiguity here, might for example be another person of ambiguous race, gender or sexuality, but could also be with other encounters such as with objects and sensorial experiences. In ‘Environmental Controls and the Impoverishment of Thought’, Frenkel-Brunswik takes a closer look at anti-intellectual tendencies and the attitude towards science in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Until Immanuel Kant, Western philosophy mainly tried to eliminate ambiguity. Philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Simone de Beauvoir have rejected the ideal of this unequivocalness, which still lives on in the natural sciences. Today, ambiguity is a key concept for philosophers, social scientists, writers, and artists who oppose unequivocal interpretations of reality, understanding that to be human is also to be fundamentally ambiguous or unresolved. 

We are putting art in this category, understanding that art can be fundamentally ambiguous, not only aesthetically, but also ontologically – in terms of the nature of its existence in society. In this sense, art is also a reflection of the ambiguity of the human condition. With the inclusion of ambiguity, artistically and philosophically-speaking, in this exhibition, we also wish to look at what practices, values, and ways of living or perceiving might be excluded by the formation of monocultures of all kinds.

Alongside the examples of philosophical thought, this part of the exhibition included the works of Carol Rama, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, and Nicole

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