This spring Badischer Kunstverein in Berlin is featuring the work of artists Karin Michalski and Sabian Baumann. The Alphabet of Feeling Bad and An Unhappy Archive spotlight the ideas of Duke University Press authors Ann Cvetkovich, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Mel Chen, Jack Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz.
The Alphabet of Feeling Bad is an experimental film that features Ann Cvetkovich, author of Depression and An Archive of Feeling, sitting on a rumpled bed. Cvetkovich explains everyday negative emotions – like the idea to be at an impasse, to feel paralyzed, to be overwhelmed by demands or not to meet – and provides them with new meanings. The performance is based on conversations between her and the filmmaker Michalski and follows in the tradition of activist initiatives such as the Socialist Patients' Collective Heidelberg (SPK) of the 1970s and the more recent Public Feelings groups in various American cities.
An Unhappy Archive assembles texts, books, posters, drawings, and other materials that call into question the social norm of “happiness.” The term was coined by theorist Sara Ahmed in her book The Promise of Happiness She describes the “unhappy archive” as a collective, feminist-queer, and anti-racist project. The archive was initiated in 2013 by Andrea Thal at Les Complices in Zurich and is now being reactivated and expanded in a new spatial context. Some of the featured books include Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Touching Feeling, pictured above.
The exhibit runs through June.