OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS
IMAGINE -Â Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011
The Aarhus Art Building,
Centre for Contemporary Art, Denmark
Artists and curators areÂ hereby invited to submitÂ proposals for 2011.
Deadline March 15
Only when people are in a position to use their own creativeÂ potentials, which can be enhanced by an artistic imagination, will aÂ change occur [….] Art can and should strive for an alternative thatÂ is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but is alsoÂ beneficial to all forms of life on our planet.
Rasheed Araeen: Ecoaesthetics. A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century
In the autumn of 2009, Rasheed Araeen, editor of the respectedÂ periodical on art and culture Third Text, launched a frontal attack onÂ the modern ego and the recuperation of the avant-garde. Instead of theÂ continued rigid production of objects and a stubborn anchoring in artÂ institutions, Araeen pleads for a collective artistic imagination as
the only road towards “[â€¦] rivers and lakes of clean water, collectiveÂ farms and the planting of trees all over the world.”
From what is perhaps a slightly one-track masculine perspective,Â Araeen’s manifesto examines earlier failed attempts to step down fromÂ the pedestal of the bourgeoisie in favour of a collective commitmentÂ to our surroundings and the environment. Nevertheless, the notion ofÂ art as a positive, giving alternative unhampered by the restraints of
either representation or negation is relevant in a new decade in a newÂ millennium.
In trying to conceive of such an alternative it seems a reasonableÂ first step to take a closer look at alliances between art andÂ sustainable development For at the roots of the idea of sustainabilityÂ lie an ethical imperative and a persistent struggle against inequalityÂ â€“ parameters that seem indispensable today if we actually want toÂ imagine change and alternatives.
The notion of sustainability first aroused political attention in theÂ 1970s, although it can also be traced back to the 1960s in the shapeÂ of various grass-roots movements. In 1972 the UN Conference on theÂ Human Environment was held in Stockholm â€“ this was the first of itsÂ kind, and at the same time the first transnational forum that evenÂ considered the environment and society as a single, interconnectedÂ issue.
The conference was strongly influenced by the book Limits to GrowthÂ published by the global think tank Club of Rome the same year, inÂ which the problems of exponential growth vis-Ã -vis the limitedÂ resources of the Earth were outlined. The book inspired thoughts aboutÂ the limits of growth in terms not only of the human population butÂ also of economic factors. This realization that the Earth was not anÂ inexhaustible storehouse of resources contributed to the developmentÂ of a notion of sustainability that takes the future generations of theÂ Earth into account.
The correlation between ecological and social issues is a fundamentalÂ aspect of thinking about sustainability, and consequently alsoÂ involves concepts like responsibility and ethics. Similarly, inÂ various movements that have consistently had sustainability as aÂ central point of reference since the 1970s, for instance SocialÂ Ecology and Ecofeminism, sustainability is inextricably bound up withÂ an astute critique of the dominant hierarchical structures.
The notion of sustainability thus includes the consideration of socialÂ structures, subjection and domination, ethics and economics on anÂ equal footing with consideration of the environment and the ecology.Â If art today is to have the above-mentioned positive starting point,Â 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 healingÂ and affirmative â€“ and thus towards an eco-aesthetic in the newÂ millennium.
With this background the Aarhus Art Building is hereby issuing an OpenÂ Call for Proposals for 2011. We welcome suggestions for groupÂ exhibitions, solo exhibitions and workshops as well as suggestions forÂ projects in public space. Guidelines can be found atÂ www.aarhuskunstbygning.dk.
The guidelines must be followed in theÂ application to make it eligible for consideration.