Imagine: Towards an eco-aesthetic
The Aarhus Art Building
Artists and curators are invited to submit proposals
In the autumn of 2009, Rasheed Araeen, editor of the respected periodical on art and culture Third Text, launched a frontal attack on the modern ego and the recuperation of the avant-garde. Instead of the continued rigid production of objects and a stubborn anchoring in art institutions, Araeen pleads for a collective artistic imagination as the only road towards ‘[…] rivers and lakes of clean water, collective farms and the planting of trees all over the world.’
From what is perhaps a slightly one-track masculine perspective, Araeen’s manifesto examines earlier failed attempts to step down from the pedestal of the bourgeoisie in favour of a collective commitment to our surroundings and the environment. Nevertheless, the notion of art as a positive, giving alternative unhampered by the restraints of either representation or negation is relevant in a new decade in a new millennium.
In trying to conceive of such an alternative it seems a reasonable first step to take a closer look at alliances between art and sustainable development For at the roots of the idea of sustainability lie an ethical imperative and a persistent struggle against inequality – parameters that seem indispensable today if we actually want to imagine change and alternatives.
The notion of sustainability first aroused political attention in the 1970s, although it can also be traced back to the 1960s in the shape of various grass-roots movements. In 1972 the UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm – this was the first of its kind, and at the same time the first transnational forum that even considered the environment and society as a single, interconnected issue.
The conference was strongly influenced by the book Limits to Growth published by the global think tank Club of Rome the same year, in which the problems of exponential growth vis-à-vis the limited resources of the Earth were outlined. The book inspired thoughts about the limits of growth in terms not only of the human population but also of economic factors. This realization that the Earth was not an inexhaustible storehouse of resources contributed to the development of a notion of sustainability that takes the future generations of the Earth into account.
The correlation between ecological and social issues is a fundamental aspect of thinking about sustainability, and consequently also involves concepts like responsibility and ethics. Similarly, in various movements that have consistently had sustainability as a central point of reference since the 1970s, for instance Social Ecology and Ecofeminism, sustainability is inextricably bound up with an astute critique of the dominant hierarchical structures.
The notion of sustainability thus includes the consideration of social structures, subjection and domination, ethics and economics on an equal footing with consideration of the environment and the ecology. If art today is to have the above-mentioned positive starting point, it needs to think about this complex apparatus as a whole and imagine an alternative. Only thus can we move towards an art that is healing and affirmative – and thus towards an eco-aesthetic in the new millennium.
With this background the Aarhus Art Building is hereby issuing an Open Call for Proposals for 2011. We welcome suggestions for group exhibitions, solo exhibitions and workshops as well as suggestions for projects in public space.
The exhibition proposal must include:
- Completed application form.
- Project description. Max 3 pages.
- A short CV for all participating artists and curators.
- Photographic documentation. Selection of works from all artists participating.
- Estimated budget. Estimation of expenses like travels, transportation, installation etc. plus a plan for the fundraising for production costs.
Proposals can be sent electronically or by regular mail.
The Aarhus Art Building
Center for Contemporary Art
J.M. Moerks Gade 13
8000 Aarhus C
phone: + 45 86 20 60 50