Art as a Trojan Horse

We explore how conceptual art slips into the mind of its audience.

Photo: John Mosbaugh, The Trojan Horse, CC-BY 2.0

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


July 24, 2018 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



In conceptual art, art becomes a Trojan horse: an unexpected, sometimes subversive, means of creating ideas in the mind of an audience.

Meet artists who have copyrighted their own mind, let the world send messages to US and UK spies, sold real estate in the extra dimensions of space-time, hired people to live the same lives across the world, and attempted to genetically engineer God.

As part of our current exhibition, Mental Work, we present artists with strategies that dismantle boundaries between art and society, which aims to open up new thoughts to grasp today’s world. Through such thought experiments, the audience become actors, exploring the boundaries between performance and spectacle.

No recording is allowed: be there to get a glimpse into the secrets of conceptual art practices. 


6pm — doors open
6:30pm — stories & concepts
6:45pm — discussion
8:00pm — reception
8:30pm — doors close


Mathias Jud

Mathias Jud is half of the artist duo Wachter and Jud, who both were born in Zurich and live and work in Berlin. The pair are professors at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin, have participated in international exhibitions and have been awarded international prizes. Their art works include open-source projects that uncover forms of censorship of the Internet, undermine the concentration of political power and even resolve the dependency on infrastructure. The tools, provided by the artists, are used by communities in the USA, Europe, Australia and in countries such as Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, India, China and Thailand. Activists even participate in North Korea.

Florence Jung 

Florence JungThe main subject of Florence Jung’s work can be pictured as a guy who comes home and is suddenly overwhelmed by doubt. That slamming door, the now-erased graffiti which had once stated that “something is missing”, those suspicious official excuses, this agreement that people sign to take on their own role. Taking a Mythos beer out of the fridge he wonders:
Can uncertainty be considered belief?

Florence Jung slips experimental fictions into real life, in the manner of a film-maker who would not film. Nobody knows where it begins or ends. Only the doubt – that is gradually infused into the head of the spectator – remains. Florence Jung lives in Amsterdam, where she is artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten. She was awarded the Swiss Performance Prize in 2013 and the Swiss Art Award and the Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Prize in 2017.

Jonathon Keats 

Acclaimed as a “poet of ideas” by The New Yorker and a “multimedia philosopher-prophet” by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher based in San Francisco and Northern Italy. His conceptually-driven interdisciplinary projects explore all aspects of society through science and technology. In recent years, he has installed a camera with a thousand-year-long exposure – documenting the long-term effects of climate change – at Arizona State University; opened a photosynthetic restaurant serving gourmet sunlight to plants at the Crocker Art Museum; exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork decoded from Arecibo Observatory radiotelescope data at the Judah L. Magnes Museum; and applied quantum mechanics to banking – coaxing money into a quantum superposition to be shared by everyone – at Rockefeller Center.

Others TBC.


The swissnex San Francisco edition of Mental Work and related programming is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, which tackles some the biggest challenges in neuroscience and marine conservation. Based in Switzerland, it supports research at Harvard Medical School and Campus Biotech, a neuroscience center in Geneva established by the Bertarelli family, the Wyss Foundation, the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Geneva. Part of the Swiss Touch campaign, Mental Work receives additional support from Wearable Sensing and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.


Photo: John Mosbaugh, The Trojan Horse, CC-BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Event Photos