The Hope of Wrecks

13 September – 27 October 2013

University of Hertfordshire & St Albans Museum


‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’. Martin Luther King Jnr.

The Hope of Wrecks is a play on the title of the seminal German romantic painting, ‘The Wreck of Hope’ by Caspar David Friedrich. As the world is struggling to recover from a continuing global financial and ethical crisis it seems a fitting moment to explore how contemporary artists address the term ‘Hope’ both personally and politically.

The Hope of Wrecks explores how certain artists produce works which have an inherent optimism when seemingly either they, or the world that surrounds them, is at ‘rock bottom’. This optimism, whether it be overt or underlying, is expressed using strategies like humour, satire, honesty, naivety or faith.

The majority of our life experience may be futile, a tiny percentile of this experience, however, transcends inerta and despondency allowing us to feel optimistic and enthusiastic in spite of ourselves.

The show will exhibit a range of multi-media works by established, mid-career and young artists contextualising a modus operandi that has been at the core of artistic enquiry throughout history. In many of the selected artists’ work there is a ‘gallows humour’ that both mocks and confronts either themselves, their environment, or the viewer.

‘Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man’ Friedrich Nietzsche

Curated by Andrew Marsh and Simon Hollington

Exhibited works:
Mars Crawler, 2013, PVC pipework, ripstop nylon, rope, fittings, 207 × 270 × 310 cm
Generic Escape Capsule Demonstration Chart, 2013, print on canvas, wooden poles, 270 × 380 cm, edition of 3 + AP
Flying Saucers, Dr Georg Unger, 2008, synthetic polymer paint on board, found object, timber, string, 20 × 30 cm
The Mars Project, 2013, HD video, 28 minutes, edition of 5 + 1AP