In Hostipitality, Misha Ilin investigates our laws of hospitality with the practice of hostility through the situation of an auction. By constructing a metaphor of unlimited hospitality in relation to the last ultimately free resource, air, the artist seeks to problematize its socio-economic reading within our biopolitical context.

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In this respect, the air is the main element of the exhibition both formally and conceptually introduced into the exposition through various objects that inform the viewer with the air’s presence or that of absence. Artist seeks to highlight this contrast by creating an environment of the celebration with objects that are transferring or containing air in different forms, be it sparkling wine or balloons gradually deflating over the duration of the show, staged in opposition to the x-ray lightboxes and screens, which illuminate the images of the environment in which the air is absent or in which one’s rights to the use of the air have been deprived.

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Per convention, the air is free and defines the limits of our world and as an intangible element, prevents our environment from being absolutely hostile in the literal and metaphoric sense.  By considering that the space of the gallery is not only a space of exhibition but also space where the contract is set between the host and the guest concerning all the matters of the gallery including the air which the gallery contains the artist identifies a juncture where space of aesthetics transgresses into that of politics. From this perspective, auctioning the air is not fraudulent or a senseless act. Furthermore, through this simple collective procedure of defining the air’s price, and thus the possibility of its possession, this unlimited intangible substance reveals the power of the host - be it the power of an individual, a state, or a planet - to provide, limit or deprive guests of this last element of hospitality- a priori available for all.

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By contemplating on current practices of hostility, the artist expands the host-guest relationship from family structures to the nation’s immigration policies, as well as practices of cultural, environmental, and political repressions by the state toward its own citizens. By understanding that a globalized world is unwelcoming to everyone, or in other words that the world turned hostile to itself, Ilin sees in it one of the reasons why we re-enact our desire for different forms of escape or utopias, the recent of all, our dream to escape to another planet.

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The term hostipitality (blending hostility and hospitality) was coined by Jacques Derrida, philosopher born Algerian and French, that describes a relationship between a host and a guest when the hospitality practiced by the host is never unlimited, and by being always conditioned to certain laws defined by the host, it imposes some form of hostility towards the guest. For Derrida, the host’s environment is never completely open and welcomes only certain defined cultural and political identities. By seeking agreement and reconciliation within itself, it eventually tends to expunge any possible difference or alteration, ultimately becoming self-referential, which is the worst form of hostility. Hence, the main question for Derrida is if one ever experienced a condition of unlimited hospitality. By unfolding Derrida’s inquiry in the setting of the exhibition, the artist seeks to challenge the possibility of such conditions of unlimited hospitality and contemplate what is this condition of ultimate hospitality would look like.













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