ilka Leukefeld invited a total of 13 international artists to make work around the subject of the psychological phenomenon known as ‘normalcy bias’. For the event in London and the exhibition in Berlin, they explored how the suppression of reality is used to keep up the appearance of normality; how bad news is suppressed, ignored, covered up and, in some cases, even smiled upon. Unfortunately, this ignoring, not reacting to and smiling upon inadvertently makes things far worse and often leads to disaster.

“A typical symptom of normalcy bias is the assumption that because a catastrophe has never occurred, it will never occur. People in favour of building nuclear plants, for example, are displaying clear signs of normalcy bias – i.e., the optimistic dismissal of danger and inadequate preparation for disaster. This is exactly what led to the nuclear reactor catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986 and consequently to the 2011 disaster in Fukushima Dai-Ichi.

“The point is that everyone experiences examples of normalcy bias on a daily basis, some hardly recognizable, others of monstrous proportions. My concept for an exhibition with artists from very different places addresses this idea and creates a space for the viewer to reflect (maybe for the first time) on this particular extreme mental state.” – ilka Leukefeld

normalcy bias was first presented by ilka Leukefeld at the invitation of Linda Persson’s X-RAY at the Perseverance, a platform for contemporary video/film/performance, generating a ‘relay system’ by inviting artists to produce events. Between 2008 and 2011, X-RAY hosted more than 70 artists from around the world.

On the night of Saturday 6 March 2010, the show was set up in the beer garden next to the canal in Hackney, London, with artists’ films shown outdoors on plasma screens, a radio broadcast and other live performances taking place in among the installations.