Text by Tijana Miskovic and Thierry Geoffroy / COLONEL published in Politiken's kronik (Original version of the article in Danish can be read HERE)
Some specially trained artists should act as watchdogs for society. But in order to stimulate the critical view of the artists, they must be provided with the necessary knowledge and tools. We must establish the Academy of Emergency Art - a new type of art school, where contemporary artists will be trained to be ultracontemporary artists.
Artists have a potential to become detectors of dysfunctions in the society, because they have a special intuition that with the proper training can be further refined, so that artists can be able to register important alarming signals before others.
Not only do artists participate in the public debate, but they can inspire the public to take a more active part in the democratic societies. Art can be an important strategy for democratic participation. The artists could therefore play a key role in society as a critical task-force that recurrently should be heard and consulted. To develop a new category of art that focuses on artists engagement in the world and in the now is exactly the kind of alertness that could keep democracy elastic, healthy and vital.
The artists are experts in expressing themselves visually and thinking conceptually. They work professionally with images and are therefore able to detect urgent alarming issues in the daily visual communication before others. Their artistic reading of images and observations will often give warnings about what is going to happen; Or what could happen if we don’t act in time.
Specially trained elite artists will be able to register and express themselves about current issues, while the debate is still on. For example, it is very unfortunate that we too often experience that legislative proposals are being approved too quickly, without leaving time for a public debate. We need to train the artists to constantly take the pulse of the development in the society, spot dysfunctions and respond immediately to them, so the their reaction can be on time and art works can be created in and about the now. If we train the artists correctly, they can fulfill an important role as watchdogs of society with a highly developed ability to be responsive to public concerns and see the core of ongoing debates. On this basis, they could create relevant debate in time, showing a different kind of reading and understanding of events and even sketch complementary solutions.
If we listen to the artists and create the right platforms for distribution and visibility of their expressions, we could prevent some accidents that may have important implications for our future. What the artists feel and believe must be displayed in real time, before it's too late. We must pay attention to the relevance of the artists' warning, in order to interact and respond efficiently. It might be our possibility to change the society.
From contemporary to ultracontemporary
Contemporary art does not have the capacity to include the now, so it is necessary to create a new art genre that is ultracontemporary and focusing on the artists' intuition, sensibility, vision and knowledge that in an anticipating manner may be ahead of our time.
The term contemporary art is exhausted because it no longer refers to art that is in coherence with the present. Contemporary art must be updated so that it is in sync with the present. Unfortunately we cannot simply repair the term contemporary art because it has been hijacked and has been (miss)used for many years to define art that is often more related to the past than the present. Ultracontemporary, is the new term for art that really is in contact with the surrounding world and with the present. An artist who works with ultracontemporary art is not only able to recognize relevant topics, but also act by reflex and thereby immediately get the artistic warning out to the public.
The artists' role in society needs to be strengthened, and we need to establish a new type of ultracontemporary platform. Here, immediate communication could take place and the artists' message would not only be put on display where it reaches a small group of citizens interested in art, it would also immediately be distributed and circulated in the media in order to provoke a debate that would be able to reach and influence the decision makers. All distribution channels must be used if we want to inform about the current situation and be able to prevent the alarming scenarios that artists make us aware of through their art.
To work with emergency art is a craft and a new art discipline
Producing artworks related to the society and in "real time" is a skill that should be developed in the same way as creating painting or sculptures. It is a craft that among other things depends on the ability to detect important issues, evaluate their relevance, define a precise critical angle, draw an artistic message that can be communicated quickly and can create the necessary debate. The artists must develop these skills and be trained to make ultracontemporary art.
Academy of Emergency Art is an education where professional artists can be specialized to do ultra-contemporary art. This new competence based primarily on immediate criticism through art, can be trained in a specially designed training structure, which can either be built in the form of an independent school built for the purpose or as an addition to an existing school. Ultracontemporary art is a new category that can be integrated into the existing educational structure, in the same way, as it was a case with media art becoming a regular artistic expression with technological developments. The ideology behind the ultra-contemporary is not working against existing art traditions, but is a further development born out of the contemporary conditions and needs.
As a legitimate alternative to the established education framework, Academy of Emergency Art could be an alternative that offers the necessary tools for art students' engagement with society. This specially developed academy should also serve as an exhibition space, a media agency, a fitness center for the “awareness muscle” and an export center for artistic savoir-faire.
In this cross-disciplinary environment, the artists’ reflex to provide immediate response can be trained, and the working tempo can be accelerated in order to be in sync with the events taking place in the world today. Art productions will not be outdated records of issues we no longer can have influence on, but living works of art with a real potential to change the course of events.
Academy of Emergency Art will make sure that the artists are being kept awake and constantly alert towards the dysfunctions.
Mechanisms of ultracontemporary has been tested
Academy of Emergency Art will be the first example of its kind, but the idea of the necessity of artistic expression in an ultracontemporary manner has already been tested in the form of EMERGENCY ROOM - an exhibition concept that have been established with important international museums such as MoMA PS1.
In the last 10 years the unique mechanisms of ultracontemporary has been developed and tested, combining innovative methods for recruiting, interdisciplinary collaboration, stimulation of artistic enthusiasm, active citizenship, interaction with the surrounding society and communication. These tested concepts, technical methods and future architectural drawings for an Academy of Emergency Art, are all ready to be put into action.
Interdisciplinary structure creates energy
In addition to teaching facilities the academy should consist of different interdisciplinary workshops, (own) media center, residency area and exhibition platform. Each of these departments has a connection to an external partner that provides immediate distribution and circulation of the produced works of art.
The academy’s open and outgoing structure means that it acts as an inspiration for other agencies in the community: arts, media and other educational institutions and the public. The academy is not just a generator of energy that stimulates the artists' enthusiasm, but it also fulfills an important need for a strengthening of peoples critical thinking.
With its own media center, Web TV studio and editing facilities, the academy has the opportunity to act as a special debate center where journalists pick inspiring comments and new topics expressed by artists in different ways. This is where art could meet the press and the general public.
The workshops at the academy are all aimed at daily production and distribution of pertinent art. For example, a textile workshop, which can produce clothes with today's important statements. There is also a recording studio where you can re-mix new music corresponding to daily actualities and in cooperation with an external partner radio station can be distributed to its listeners the same day as it is produced. This also applies to video works in form of short reports that can be broadcasted to the general public through national television, as a permanent post in the news before the weather forecast. With time, there could be developed a new global genre, similar to caricature which is a daily inseparable part of most major newspapers.
Making art fast does not lower the quality of art
The fact that the art production is fast does not mean that the artistic quality level is lowered. It's not only important to work quickly but also to be trained to have a good timing. The artists can learn to follow a case for several weeks and still be able to choose the right moment to show it. Like a photographer would use long time to find the subject and only a fraction of a second to capture it. Or a sportsman by reflex can hit the ball at the right time after many years of training.
Everything at the Academy of Emergency Art is about generating energy and training of artists’, audience’s and community’s “awareness muscle”. It is therefore no surprise that the Academy also includes a gym, combining exercise with critical debate. Just as the memory, the awareness muscle also needs to be developed through active efforts and daily training.
Academy of Emergency Art will also have its own exhibition space with daily changing art works. The students will all be professional artists who want to specialize in working with art in an ultracontemporary way.
There is as an integrated part of the academy reserved for temporary visits by foreign artists who have important “now and here” statement to express. Thisresidency program will enable international collaborations and ensuring a growing community.
The education includes among other things investigation journalism, detective work, technology, mass media, sociology, statistics and logistics.
There will naturally be created a diverse learning environment as student groups at the academy would be very heterogeneous and their skills as well as networks are pointing to different cultural, social and professional directions in an organic way.
Can the Academy of Emergency Art become the new Bauhaus?
The Academy of Emergency Art aims to be a unique interdisciplinary education with a focus on the now, with the ambition to educate the new generation of ultra-contemporary artists. The creative environment around the school will eventually grow into an influential global art movement - a modern Bauhaus creating synergy between several local institutions and sectors.
The moving of Bauhaus school from Weimar to Dessau was connected to the local politics and used as a strategic cultural initiative that was of a great benefit to the profiling of the town and the area. Synergy among the many internationally renowned artists who moved to Dessau to teach and the talented students, who also settled in the city, created a special concentration of creative potential that got a worldwide influence. The family-like structure that encourages collaboration across academic skills was an important brick in the construction of the Bauhaus concept of connecting design, art and architecture.
In a similar way the Academy of Emergency Art has a potential to become a new EU brand with international resonance that, on a global level, can raise the question of how artists organize a debate in a democratic society. As a self-critical tool in a democratic society, the Academy of Emergency Art is the answer to the many challenges the democratic countries are facing.
EMERGENCY ART and the ULTRACONTEMPORARY could outpace the contemporary art
Emergency Art is demanded and there is a concern for the emergencies our world is faces. Biennials around the world have a message of actuality and desire to see artists relating to the now in their titles or main concepts. The audience wants to know what the artists think about the current social problems. To be concerned about current situations in the society is no longer just an interest for some artists, but rather a requirement for contemporary artists on the global art scene.
The tendencies point towards a repeal of the contemporary and introduction of the ultra-contemporary art. Academy of Emergency Art will in this connection provide the best tools and professional expertise based on many years of experience with this particular art that deals with actualities and is created for immediate communication. The challenges of the global world of today, require a new art academy, where we mobilize all the available agencies in society to recognize, understand, criticize, inform and find new ways out of urgent problems.