The works in On Failure examine and reconsider the connotations of failure, repositioning the concept as an intentional outcome or state of being, often via an interrogation of what cost this approach comes at.
In The Queer Art of Failure (2011), Jack Halberstram sought alternatives to conventional (heteronormative and capitalist) understandings of success and by extension, many of these artists prioritise its disempowerment. Success cannot exist without failure — even intrinsic to fantasy, it exists as a near-essential by-product of desire.
While certain works function as indexes of failed attempts at control, others recognise the perceived failure of the human body, positing that from a spiritual perspective: if perfection is nonexistent, then failure is all we have, all that is real. Now exploited by tech industries, failure represents a deliberately constructed and maintained mechanism manipulated to further the consumer’s obsession with an imagined idea of success. For other artists, a maintained material methodology of failure remains vital to their studio practice.
On Failure contemplates collective versus individual failure; failure as a site of productivity or change; failure as normalcy; failing in order to succeed or as a necessity for survival; failure to thrive — or failing in order to thrive — and failure in search of a freedom from ideals, expectations and corporeal or societal limits more broadly.