«crisis, solution. / art, poetry»
a network / invitation / project about and beyond the crisis
1. Interpretation, diagnosis
1.1 We live in an era of generalized “crisiology”: millions of pages, on a global scale, in all languages, are dedicated annually to the crisis and to attempts to analyse it, diagnose it and propose solutions-remedies for it. In the midst of this inflationary body of works, actions and outcries, the “Greek case” has a permanent and continuous presence. A vast spectre of discourses and artistic endeavours emerge globally to exorcise, retrace, affront, comprehend and perhaps deal with the “crisis”.
1.2 The term “crisis” (κρίσις) is itself proof of a cultural irony: it is the Greek language that furnishes us with this key term to approach the economic situation in Greece, in Europe and the whole world. However, despite the fact that the tools for conceiving reality are often derived from Greek, the word “crisis” carries multiple meanings, of which not all have survived in contemporary vernacular.
Schematically, we organize these meanings in two senses: the first is when a normal, physiological condition is perturbed and as a consequence, a dysfunctional, disturbed state is established. We could offer here, as an example, the metaphor of the disease and the body that suffers from it. Nevertheless, a second sense accompanies the first: the word “crisis” also signifies the step necessary to achieve the action (relating to human activity): before we act, we ought to establish a diagnosis, evaluate our options and our alternatives, and choose our goals taking the probable consequences of our actions under consideration, in order to achieve the best result possible.
This process represents the second meaning of the word “crisis”, that is, crisis-critical assessment. We thus discover, that these two meanings coexist in one state, giving the crisis-disturbance (first meaning) the chance to be overcome through a crisis-critical assessment (second meaning). In today’s world however, the second meaning of the word crisis has been virtually forgotten – as it’s often the case when borrowing Greek words and transforming them into technical or scientific terms – and crisis in the sense of disturbance without reference to its other dimension has remained and expanded.
In this way, only the negative and oppressive charge of the term “crisis” survives, devoid of the salutary side of the same term. It’s up to us therefore, to demand the reintegration of the second meaning of the term “crisis”, and to restore the ambiguity and polysemy it formerly had. This could distance us from a unilateral diagnosis that with its imprecision intensifies the impasse, offering us a critical approach towards the abusive or naive uses of “crisis” in order to adopt more fruitful approaches.
2. Research question – scope of inquiry
2.1. Does the crisis in art correspond to its economic, financial or even cultural equivalent? Does it precede or follow it? Is art capable of heralding or predicting the global crisis? Are art’s different domains involved to the same degree in the whirlpool of the crisis? Finally, does the art’s crisis or the art of crisis uncover or cover up the supposed substance of the crisis? Which artistic actions could help the citizens of our internationalized planet process exit strategies from the crisis? Are there outlets to the future where art would function as a catalyst? Has art lost its ability for large scale intervention?
2.2 All responses to the aforementioned and similar questions carry the risk of failure or disregard, since the crisis is inflated in the market of words and narratives. In other words, there is a real danger in contemplating the existence of “art in the time of crisis” as separate from “art in the time of non-crisis”. It would be a great indiscretion for the model or substance of art to change in the name of the predominance of the generalized crisis. However, the same would apply if art did not defy “crisis” on a local and global scale. In this spirit, for the “art of the crisis” to be useful and pertinent, it must position itself in pre-crisis and post-crisis territory. Therefore, it becomes imperative to search for an effective and pertinent art-action and in this sense, to look for contributions in diverse artistic domains from many parts of the world. The merging together of these different channels and projects becomes the fundamental condition for judicious action and for an incentivising example to avoid an “unlivable life” (from Ancient Greek “βίος αβίωτος”).