H.R. Buechler

Exhibition Artist Statement: In his 1966 text, Beyond Good & Evil, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says of exploitation, that “…exploitation … belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is, after all the will to life” (Nietzsche’s emphasis). Exploitation, for Nietzsche, is inevitable, an essential aspect of life, of which here lays the groundwork for the Nietzschean will to power. Rather, “Life is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker; suppression, hardness, imposition of one’s own forms, incorporation and at least, at its mildest, exploitation”. Life exploits life to maintain power.

While conceptualizing the world in this way—human culture in this way—may feel excessively dark, the evidence for it can be found all around us. In the Nietzschean world, it extends beyond human culture and permeates all the natural world. With the case of Will to Life, this evidence is made plain.

In the intentional defacement of the beautifully crafted image of a content, sentient being, whom, in reality, has been stripped of its natural autonomy through the aversive and violent suppression of instinct, alongside the defacement of a philosophical concept that, while dark, also speaks a truth, Will to Life captures the tension between what we currently believe and the decisions we made, and continue to make, as a society now and in the centuries and decades past. Will to Life does not seek to rectify or resolve our past with our present, but instead holds ethical, moral, and philosophical conflict as mirror.

H.R. is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and founder of the late OXBLOOD Publishing. They hold an M.S./L.I.S. from the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago, and a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They are the 2016-2018 Victor Hammer Fellow at the Wells College Book Arts Center (Aurora, NY) and former Print Production Fellow to the Journal of Artists’ Books (JAB). Their work can be found in numerous collections in the US and internationally, including the Yale University Library, Centre Pompidou of Paris, France, and the University of Regina Library in Regina, SK, Canada.