In the world of literature, K is the alternative to both the “I” of psychoanalysis and the “we” of politics. In Franz Kafka’s books The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926), K signifies the simultaneous and reciprocal emergence of the institution and its subject. Without K there is no process, no bureaucratic machine, and vice versa. And while it may affirm itself as the one who provokes the system, K is ultimately a figure without agency.
More recently, in J. M. Coetzee’s 1983 book Life and Times of Michael K, K is a character who possesses no character, and ultimately no will, but without whom there is also no plot, no development, and no prose. “Life” and “times” are absolutely separated, and Michael K’s cryptic and esoteric life is constantly at odds with the classifications of everyday life that are characteristic of his times.
In the reading suggested here, K is neither a passive subject nor an active agent of power, but an impassive medium, a figure who is essential to the system to which it belongs, and through which one may explore the space in which the individual oscillates between the singular existence (“I”) and the plural (“we”).
K is the unqualified subject who is also the citizen, fully determined, though engaged in a process without aim, without direction.
Curated by Juan A. Gaitán
Johanna Calle, Chen Shaoxiong, Liam Everett, Ceal Floyer, Claire Fontaine, Ken Lum, Ciprian Muresan, Pedro Reyes, Gabriel Sierra, Carey Young
This exhibition is realized in collaboration with the Kadist Art Foundation.