In this new series of works Seilern continues her analysis of human behaviour, exploring the intrinsic need for mankind to belong in groups.
During the preparation of this exhibition, Seilern was researching crowd behaviour and the idea of ‘collective thinking’ in different groups of people. Why is it that we lose our sense of individuality in a crowd? What lies in the space between our personal and social identity, and more importantly, why do we allow that gap to become exploited? In fact, preceding that, why is it that humans have this intense need to belong in a group?
Although the artist was looking at entirely isolated incidents in history, the most prominent theme that tied everything together was the human tendency towards believing in something (or someone) as the ultimate saviour. Again and again, hierarchical relationships with a leader or ‘ideal’ at the top and a group of followers underneath became the essence of her interest, paralleled with ‘groupthink’ theories, crowd paranoia and mass hysteria.
The Jonestown tragedy of 1978, in which over 900 people ‘committed suicide’ is a powerful example of what can happen to an isolated group with an extremist leader and is one of the many episodes in human history that inspired Seilern to began the research culminating in this exhibition.
Delving deeper into the rituals and beliefs of other groups, leaders, cults, institutions and even situations created for social experiments like Philip Zimbardo (Stanford Prison Experiment) the artist uncovered more and more bizarre and fascinating scenarios that left her with further questions and fewer answers.
The pieces shown in this exhibition are a possible response to these questions.
15 – 17 November / 12 – 8pm