The controversial artist and his curatorial accomplice for the 2012 Biennale of Contemporary Art in Berlin have put together a collection of interviews, conversations and texts that work around the major question of this year's edition - How can art change politics and evoke real effects in our society?
Forget Fear is a report from the efforts of Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza in pursuing the intersection between the global Occupy and Arab Srping movements and the art world. The relationship between artistic practices and reality, particularly the political reality in which a particular society dwells in the main focus of Żmijewski research. It is a collection of interviews with people from the realm of politics and of art, accompanied by individual texts that examine the way they mutually impact one another. texts of their authorship, which show how art works really, presents examples of the effects that art can bring to reality, as may be affected and effectively carry out its changes. Forget Fear attempts to answer the question of how to use art in the field of politics and how to use the policy in the field of art.
As Żmijewski says of his vision for the Berlin Biennale in the introduction to Forget Fear, "We've taken on specific activities that produce concrete results. Rather than ask questions, we look for answers and situations that consist of responsible solutions". The book is the first insight into the ideas behind this year's Biennale.
Excerpt from the foreword by Artur Żmijewski
My critique of my own field is ultimately very simple and can be summarized in one sentence: art doesn’t act, and doesn’t work. Despite the fact that it has enormous potential for conceiving and creating a reality or practicing politics, it usually goes no further than presenting ideas that no one has any intention of putting into practice. Is there any way out of this vicious »circle of creative impotence«? How can art help in performatively creating reality? One of the dominant beliefs in the world of culture is that art operates under the logic of the miracle. There, everything is possible. One biennale may be boring and bad, but the next might be wonderful and »sexy.« It’s as if the possibility of doing a boring or captivating biennale were not a result of the existing art system as a whole, but of some exceptional ability or capacity on the part of the curator or artists. Art, in the minds of its practitioners, can in a moment transcend any limitation. But in fact, its possibilities are no more than those we have created in common. A miracle, that is, the possibility of abolishing all limitations, is an illusion, because one has to operate within a system of limitations ubiquitously dominated by the same Newspeak: freedom, autonomy, participation. It is a system where the know-how is provided by traveling philosophers, ready to offer their intellectual services to any artistic excess. If, in the art world and beyond, we continue to hear the view that art has become a décor for a neo-liberal system, then this décor includes not only art objects, but the intellectual discourse that frames them. It is a discourse which revolves around them and, like a black hole, sucks into its center each and every radical proposition, transforming it into speculation and theoretical reflection—but not into action. Artists, as well as the theorists and philosophers gravitating in their world, have become »practitioners of impotence.« The limited imagination of today’s artists and curators is unable to cross the threshold into genuine action. »Empty« and ineffective artworks and exhibitions are the paradoxical reaction to this situation. All that art has now is spectacle, where social and political problems are played out with no substantial impact on reality. And no substantial impact even on the players in the field of art: other artists and curators.
Read the full foreword on the Berlin Biennale blog at www.berlinbiennale.de/blog
Featured authors and interviewees include Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogota who contributed to significant social change in Colombia's capital by using methods derived from the theatre practices of Schilling. Voina, the Russian guerilla group that uses art to make a statement of protest against Putin - incidentally, Żmijewski has named the group co-curators of the Biennale this year. The Brazilian group Pixadores, which serves as the political and artistic voice of the exploited classes, attacking the recent Sao Paulo Biennale with their uncompromising message, is also given lease for expression.
With contributions Paweł Althamer, Gábor Bakos, Yael Bartana, Einar Örn Benediktsson, Daniel Blatman, Christian Boltanski, Galit Eilat, Olafur Eliasson, Julián García, Jón Gnarr, Jan Tomasz Gross, Jerzy Hausner, Péter Juhász, Gideon Levy, Renzo Martens, Antanas Mockus, Joanna Mytkowska, Luis Ospina, den Pixadores, Srđa Popović, Alison Ramer, Dorota Sajewska, Árpád Schilling, Marcin Śliwa, Igor Stokfiszewski, Hans-Christian Täubrich, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Fernando Vallejo, der Künstlergruppe Voina, Zofia Waślicka and Rafał Żurek as well as a CD by Teresa Margolles.
Forget Fear is published in English and German, with the Krytyka Polityczna group publishing excerpts of the book in their periodical magazine. Żmijewski presented the book at a meeting at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in early March.
Artur Żmijewski is the chief curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale, together with co-curators Joanna Warsza and members of the Voina group.
Edited by Artur Zmijewski and Joanna Warsza
English/German, 416 pages
Distributed at the 7. Berlin Biennale
Published by the Biennale Foundation
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart
Source: www.krytykapolityczna.pl, www.goethe.de