A CHILD'S MACHIAVELLI | BERLIN
EXPANDED.ART is pleased to present A CHILD’S MACHIAVELLI, the first solo exhibition by Claudia Hart at the gallery in Berlin. On view will be drawings and digital artworks from Hart’s iconic book of the same title.
A CHILD’S MACHIAVELLI was initially written and illustrated by Hart in 1995, inspired by Niccolo Machiavelli’s Renaissance treatise, THE PRINCE, the first book of political philosophy. Hart’s version began as a series of oil paintings and a small catalog, produced by the Realismus Studio, at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin in 1995.
The catalog was eventually released as an expanded hardcover by Penguin USA in 1998, along with German and French editions. While keeping to the meaning of the original, Hart rewrote THE PRINCE, reflecting street values and the voice of youth culture, as if Machiavelli’s book, meant to advise kings on seizing power, was a primer to teach good manners to small children. The book has proven prescient, uncannily prefiguring the brutal tenor of contemporary US public discourse.
“My intention with the project was to keep to the meaning of the original, but to reflect the street values and voice of the youth culture of my own time. I imagined the first Machiavelli book, intended to advise a young king on the ways of power, as a primer teaching bad manners to small children. My version has proven prescient, prefiguring the infantile brutality of current US politics. I was therefore thrilled when Beatrice Books, a small experimental publisher, reissued the book in a more contemporary edition in 2019. At that time, I discovered among my files a series of Flash animations created for an ebook, an early 21st-century digital format that has long since disappeared along with Flicker Labs, the visionary company that half-produced them from my original gouache paintings in 2010. Then again, at the height of the crypto-bubble, it finally struck me that technological castaways would make perfect NFT. So I finished them last year, using a new Adobe product called Animate that allowed me to reopen old Flash files. With that final transformation, what has ultimately emerged are cruel but true insights, standing as reminders that while technologies may come and go, human frailties still manage to remain the same.”
– Claudia Hart
2 January 2023
Hart’s strategy reflected those embraced by the 1990s art world. Mimicking the visuals of a picture book, Hart appropriated 1920s children’s illustrations known for their sugary sweetness. The irony and twisted humor of A CHILD’S MACHIAVELLI is derived from its combination of opposites: the saccharine speech of kiddie books and the unvarnished reality of American politics. The book went out of print in 2000 but continues to be traded on the second-hand book market.
CLAUDIA HART: A CHILD'S MACHIAVELLI
29 JUNE - 19 JULY
OPENING: 29 JUNE | 6-9 PM CET
Friedrichstraße 67, 10117 Berlin
Monday - Saturday: 11 AM - 6 PM CET