'The hysteria of survival makes life radically transient. Life is reduced to a biological process, which must be optimized. It loses any meta-physical dimension. Self-tracking becomes a cult. Digital hypochondria, permanent self-measurement with health and fitness apps relegates life to a function. Life is robbed of any meaningful narrative. It is no longer the tellable, but the measurable and countable.'
- Byung-Chul Han
(in 'De palliatieve maatschappij' pg 27, Uitgeverij Ten Have, NL, 2022)
Secret Escape presents twelve new paintings by Karin Hanssen. The exhibition highlights the relationships people form with each other. What brings us together, what divides us, or what polarizes our society? The opposing dynamic between togetherness and division is the common thread through the exhibition. The relationship and balance between the attraction and repulsion of individuals or groups, as well as between the individual and society, comes to the fore. In the exhibition, a majority of the painted scenes are situated in public space, in which the characters engage in various relationships with each other: business like, intimate or distant. As a result, they consciously or unconsciously become part of a group. Various depicted characters seem to focus on each other's secret desires and needs.
In an age of relentless digitalization, artificial intelligence and the 'disembodiment' of the individual, Karin Hanssen shows the importance of authentic social contact. The necessity of human interaction, depicted in the paintings, is foregrounded. The emotionality and togetherness that arise during these social activities are highlighted as essential components of human existence. The importance of public space in a healthy democracy, as a place of free expression and movement, is emphasized in the scenes. As such, the shifts in the relationship between the individual and groups in our society are questioned.
Using historical photographs as source material for her paintings, Karin Hanssen reflects on the power of the archive. The historical narrative and the way information is passed on from generation to generation, is playfully challenged by the artist. The exhibition Secret Escape reflects on fiction and falsehood, on the impact of fake news on ideological collective thinking and on the narrative that can bring together or divide our shared public space.