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CONCEPT 2021

MEMORIES AND IDENTITIES

Shared memories mean common identity. We cannot think of ourselves as Europeans if we are not able to restore a European identity. Parallel to individual memory is the library, the vegetal memory. If somebody loses their memory he becomes a plant. Hell has no meaning without memory. (1)

Umberto Ecco

 

A new wind is changing the global socio-political climate radically for a decade. The ever-developing digital and virtual communication and information process is generating a limitless and overwhelming relationship between individuals, societies, countries and nations. The information and communication flow are in excess pace; the macro and micro agenda is changing too fast that it becomes difficult to perceive and experience the actions and transformations. 

 

Thinking back to the Cold War Period, just 30 years ago, political winds were blowing to separate continents, countries, nations, leaving deep scars (ruptures) that were not headed throughout the decades; there was a complete failure of communication.  How much do people remember this recent past? How can a correlation be established between the past and the present? Umberto Ecco has expressed that memory is the basis of common identity; if the individual loses its memory, he/she becomes a plant.

 

 Is memory falling victim to this high-speed transition and expansion? 

 

This might be a philosophical description of what is happening under the conditions of the digital /virtual environment. Because of the nature of this electronic technology, people are compulsorily connected and the level of intellectual or creative production has new possibilities to expand. From an optimistic perspective, this information and communication flow has also empowered the consciousness of civil society. Together with its infrastructure in the form of NGOs and civil initiatives together with its art and culture sector are acting as a membrane as well as a transmitter between the political and economic powers and the society and individuals.

 

Civil initiatives working with curators and art critics have made a difference in the art world since the beginning of the ’90s; they have prepared the networks for the individuals working in different fields of art and culture. Pro-western policies with weak economies are entitled to be re-colonized. There is still a tension between the old infrastructures (polarized world structures) and the new ones. In order to resist new colonization of any sort, we have to learn to utilize this tool for our benefit. 

 

There is also a tension between old nationalism, new nationalism, and trans-nationalism. The cultural and artistic exchange plays on this territory of multi-tensions. It is also paradoxical that people have to keep one part of the memory alive-because there is no culture without a memory- and at the same time erase another part of the memory, which can poison their current, and future plans. It is a very fragile path.

 

At this point -dealing with the memory - we have to rely on the artists, who have been dealing with it within the relational aesthetics process. For two decades we can observe in the works of the artists all kinds of detailed research into the collective memory, deciphering political, economic, social, cultural complexities related to ideological interventions. Paintings, installations, photography, and video, all popular techniques are contributing to this research and questioning.

 

The artists concentrate on the very core of the relation between life and art, and the everyday. With Raoul Vaneigem’s words: “Everyday life always produces the demand for a brighter light, if only because of the need which everyone feels to walk in step with the march of history. But there are more truths in twenty-four hours of man’s life than all the philosophies.” (2)

 

Despite all the generalization, standardization, and totalitarianism in the world, this twenty-four-hour makes all the difference within the supremacy of the corporate economy and global politics. The artists are evidently aware of the eminence of every day, approaches these twenty-four hours in detail, itemize and particularise the facts with his/her inevitable sophistication and contempt. The magnitude of this task can be seen in the images of freedom, hope, anxiety, desperation, emergency, clamor, and transgression. The viewer generously, but cunningly gives the artist the right to intervene into the minute detail of the common life and the authority to cry out his/her message to the world from a headland. The viewer makes the artist an accomplice.

 

It should be considered that in the local and regional cultural industry system and political developments the opinions and ideas of bureaucrats, politicians, and businessmen should not have the power to determine the concepts, contents, and programs of contemporary art institutions or organizations, their essentials, and function. The global system, restructured from the 90s on, requires real investment in the ideas, concepts, and creative visions that are the cause of the existence of culture and art institutions. Artists, art experts of the institutions, critical thinking, and prospective projects should be promoted rather than events for the desires of the society of the spectacle. 

 

Within this development artist and curator residency programs became a most effective investment. The investors, initiators, and participants are benefitting from the everyday communication and collaboration system generated by this initiative. Artist Residency programs presented a solution for political, economic, and cultural differences between countries, as well as for faultlines and deficiencies in cultural policies. The fact that there is still a structural difference between the EU and East of EU; there is an online information flow between the neighboring countries, but still an inefficient exchange of exhibitions and other events; there is a governmental distance to the contemporary artist and its production, placed the residency programs to the top of the demands. These programs generate mutual communication and collaboration.

 

In particular for young generation artists and curators, there is still a long process in which they will meet and discuss the same or other issues and even work closely together for current and future revelations. These generations had to transform all their ideas and visions into a multi-cultural world where the other is still the theme of discussions and exhibitions. The young generation has the need to march forward into the exhibition venues all over the world with a rich portfolio of political, economic, social, and cultural interpretations, statements, with projects dealing with global problems, with manifestos that are not so distanced from the manifestos of Modernist avant-gardes. The residence programs deliver all the conditions to reach these goals.

 

BERAL MADRA, JUNE 2021

 

5. Umberto Eco, 'Sulla memoria. Una conversazione in tre parti, 15'. Capitolo 1. 6' 5 ''. Directed by Davide Ferrario. http://www.codiceitalia2015.com/en/exhibition/on-memory. Accessed January 2016.

6. Raoul Vaneigem, 'The Revolution of Everyday Life', http://72.52.202.216/~fenderse/EVERYDAY.htm. Accessed January 2016.