Century of the Artist
We would suggest that you take up to approximately 10 minutes after each question to answer intuitively and directly. If you like you can set a timer. The material we gather is mostly meant as working material. Please do not take too much time to refine your answers. This way answering this questionnaire shouldn’t take more than two hours approximately.
We would like to apologize if a question seems inappropriate to you. Please do let us know and please do not feel obliged to answer it. Of course it is fine if you answer just selected questions.
If you are approached as a curator or theorist, please rephrase the questions in a manner you can apply them to your relation to the art field and its effects and promises.
Do you want your answers to remain anonymous?
If not, name: (if yes, leave blank)
In this question we are interested in the time when you first decided to become an artist: Do you remember a particular moment in your life when your political desires and your wish to actively create something in society came close to the image you have had of an artist? Please try to recall what image of an artist you had when you chose to become an artist. What seemed possible and desirable about being an artist? What kind of political influence or social relevance seemed attached to that role? What were your primary political/personal/subjective/coming of age struggles and concerns at that time?
This question inquires about the time of art education. In becoming artists we learn the unspoken canon of contemporary art gradually and subtly. This concerns our implicit knowledge about relations and power, behavior and values as much as the knowledge of artistic forms, proceedings and gestures. (Western) Art schools such as modernism, formalism, conceptualism, minimalism and abstraction are learned and internalized in the course of artistic education. They are no neutral formal language but reproduce values, power structures and regimes of literacy. Can you recall a situation of implicit learning in becoming an artist and describe it here? What did you learn? Did you have to unlearn something in return? Was that what was learned and that what was unlearned expressed and described? Did you realize then what you were learning?
Again this question takes a look where and how you were introduced to contemporary art in a professional way. How were values and proceedings of contemporary art thought in your professional education? Have there been major institutions or protagonists who thought, mediated, embodied contemporary art? Has contemporary art been mainly mediated outside of the traditional institutions for instance? Or did you for example attend one of the academies which at the start aim to break the self-confidence of their students in order to build it up anew from scratch? Can you describe the implicit canon of values of the institutions and methods that were significant in your education?
We are interested in your more refined choices for specific artistic practices in the course of your professional development. Has there been a political form or practice of contemporary art which seemed most suited to you to express political content? Do you recall how you learned about and got in touch with protagonists of these practices in your work? Did you have idols, people to learn from, look up to? What have you learned from them? What is your perspective on them today (e.g. as political artists)? Do you currently favor an artistic format as politically activating?
This question concerns the formats we have come to naturally accept as forms of contemporary art. Which forms, thought patterns and logics of producing contemporary art have become natural to you? Are there specific formats you often employ or have you become used to plan your work in a particular manner? How do these proceedings affect and shape the way political desire and content takes form in your work? How would you describe your relation to political content in your work today?
This question concerns the present. If your artistic practice has political aspects and topics, which are they? How do these topics relate to your actual working conditions as an artist? How would you describe your relation towards your colleagues from a political point of view?
Our encounters in the art context are often mediated through funding apparatuses and selection processes which largely function along categories such as nationality/country of origin/residence, race and gender. The art field is characterized by racist and sexist exclusions. Despite individual political intentions, these categories partake in our interactions, we are often involved in reproducing them. In how far do these mechanism shape and determine your encounters in the art context? How do they determine the way you relate to colleagues? What concrete engagement, interaction, strategic interruptions are you lacking?
Looking at our social position more generally: Most artists have privileged middle-class backgrounds. Most artists could choose for this profession because of financial safety provided by family background, partners or society. Many artists have been introduced to the places and rites of high art already through their family background at a young age. What role did that pre-selection play in your life and professional choices? How would you describe your social surrounding in view of privilege and class today?
Can you sustain yourself or yourself and members of your family with your artistic work/knowledge? If yes, is it independent from support related to inherited social capital or material resources of your family?
How do you relate to concrete political and systemic changes, has in your opinion the transition in Central and East European countries from the previous to the actual political and economic system been generally positive or negative? Has it proven positive or negative for your colleague artists, cultural workers or other social group you belong to and work with? How has it affected your family and class it belongs to? What in your opinion were the general effects on society as a whole?
Can you otherwise express some of your standpoints on this matter in a few sentences?
Do you have time for concrete political work next to your artistic practice? Are you satisfied with the political impact of your artistic work?
What else would you like to share?
What questions are missing from your point of view?
Would you like to give us feedback to the questionnaire?
Do you think a workshop format will be useful to engage deeper with these topics?
Do you have concrete suggestions for the workshop taking place in Berlin?
Thank you so much.