Manifesto for an art of today in the face of the global crisis
Analyses abound from all horizons to change our paradigms, our values, our political, economic, social, ecological, cultural, local as well as planetary governance and our individual behaviors, to rethink our practices in public health, education, trade, and to revalue civil society in the face of the overarching logic of our governments. It is all part of it, often contradictorily so. But one cannot help but hear the deafening silence of a great absentee in this concert of urgent calls for change: art. Yet in the field of art too, the "normality" that has led us to a planetary catastrophe must be profoundly rethought.
-The individual creativity of "anything is art" initiated by Dada, Fluxus, the happening, the art of diverse installations, has had its creative virtues, there is no denying it. But this extreme freedom, which freed us from the clichés of art and society, and celebrated the alliance of art with life, inevitably, like the exacerbated avant-gardism of the 1960s and 1970s, reached a degree of individual whim, saturation, nonsense and exhaustion of its expressive modalities, which today divert the elitist public from it, and to which the general public has never adhered. And the world has changed considerably in the meantime, calling for new artistic commitments.
As for globalized "market art", too often meaningless and mediocre, its market fiber has reduced it to a mere financial product of speculation in the few hands of extremely rich collectors, makers and un-doers of outrageous ribs that will burst like iridescent soap bubbles. It is no longer even the "soul supplement" of the deregulated capitalism that has instrumented it, but a vulgar investment: princely facts, free ports and auctions. This bewildering drift has killed the traditional market of collectors and galleries who faithfully loved the artists they supported on a long-term basis. They are reduced to becoming artisans trading aesthetic rediscoveries for the nouveau riche or, if they prefer to remain authentic explorers of today's world, small, marginal and miserable self-entrepreneurs in a global market that ignores them and reduces them to begging at the doors of the charitable programs of government cultural institutions, if any, in their own countries.
- Today we are faced with a global upheaval that no longer allows this "normalized" letting go. The crisis, with its irreconcilable paradoxes between economy, ecology, public health and respect for mankind, has locked us in a labyrinth from which we can no longer find a way out. Yet we must act quickly to survive in this accelerating dark vortex. In the face of planetary dangers, the vertical spiral of postmodern philosophers has lost all credibility. How can they deny, as mathematicians in astrophysics also persist in doing, and while it is demonstrated in geology and the life sciences, the powerful singularity of the arrow of time in our human history, under creative tension between entropy and negentropy, breaking with Darwinian repetition, selection and adaptation, creating irreversible divergences. We need to rethink art and society, one as much as the other, which are inextricably linked, in order to seize new opportunities in this global disruption.
-Everything that is real is fabulatory, everything that is fabulatory is real, but we must know how to choose fabulations that bring collective hope and avoid the toxic hallucinations that have led us to this world crisis that is never-ending with its procession of human suffering. We must therefore put an end to the cynicism of postmodern resignation as well as to the irresponsibility of anthropocene adventurism, to the insignificant wandering of "anything is art" as well as to the trivial drift of "market art". Let's give a sense to art. Let's give an art to sense. There is no progress in art, but art changes the world.
-From the scandal of this crisis emerges an augmented hyperhumanist consciousness thanks to the multiplication of digital hyperlinks that inform us in real time on a planetary scale, imposing on us the obligation and responsibility of a philosophical art in search of a planetary ethic, a technohumanism in tune with our times, respecting the power as well as the fragility of nature, attentive to the balance between man and nature as well as to universal fundamental human rights, inclusive of our diversity and the most vulnerable populations. The personal and planetary ethic begins with respect for nature. If we do not believe in Man, there is no solution.
Hervé Fischer, May 2020, Montreal.
New Naturalism: the images and the perception of nature have radically changed. They are today scientific, financial, ecological and mostly digital minded.
The Digital Age's icons call for a paradoxical return to painting.
Today's digital arts, the same as photography in the XIX century, do not mean the end of painting, but invite us to invent new digital fine arts.
For example we have today on the planet Earth more bar-codes, emblematic of our society of control and consume, than we had throughout all past centuries of Christianity.
Time let me consider art more and more as a philosophical practice.
Art is Myth, Myth is Art : same divinatory creation, same fabulatory praxis of humankind in search of itself. Art always invokes the supreme myth of creation or a range of its great human stories personifying it, whether it may be the celebration of founding myths of societies, of gods, man or nature, of realism, abstraction, cubism, suprematism, constructivism, surrealism, of inner necessity or digital magic, by the means of architecture, theatre, music, literature, philosophy, dance, performance or painting. And when it comes to question itself or the society which celebrates it, art becomes sociological or mythanalytical.
This is nothing new, as what I call myth/art seeks deeply into archeology of present as much as of future time. I already mentioned it in 1979 on the occasion of a performance at the Pompidou Centre, when l announced “the end of art History”.
By launching "tweet art", I propose a new development of mail art, which continues the tradition of futuristic "free words", artists' stamps and postal art, Fischer's Pharmacy pills and labels, tags and graffiti on city walls, imaginary posters and signs in the streets. The internet provides immediate global access to these small images and text messages. Tweet art spreads at high speed on the web, faster than the post office, as the Italian futurists would have liked.
No doubt many artists will turn it into a euphoric and entertaining chirping like the tweet of birds - Monet said that "the artist must paint as the bird sings" -, but for me it is rather, in the spirit of sociological art, a digital art of philosophical, socio-critical and ethical questioning. I think of a planetary art.
Hervé Fischer, March 2011.