About love for people in times of a global civil war
This is the story of a look back at many years of social art, the story of the rise and fall of social media, the story of a departure into the reald world that looks like re-treat and social death, and which only underlines that contemporary artists should also enjoy their time .
My path into the arts started 40 years ago. For a small German town I was commissioned to carry out an art campaign for children and young people, my first paid artwork with the age of 18. I suggested a common action painting. The canvas 40 x 1.6 m in 20 segments faced a crowd of more than 160 young painters. The rules were clear: paint over what you don’t like. Allow the following to do the same. Return as many times as you want till the end of the event.
In 3 days, 64 square meters were painted. Some areas were painted over several times, others with an initial motive were accepted to the extent that none of the following had considered overpainting.
Some of the young artists appeared several times over the weekend to check what had become of their own contribution. Some took this as an opportunity to “defend” their motif, others reacted to new motifs from third parties and in some cases there was a painterly dialogue over the three days, sometimes without the knowledge of the other. At the end, the entire work was shown in the patio of the event site and hundreds of visitors marveled at the result (title: Common Work of Art).
At that time, swarm thinking had not yet been scientifically researched, Beuys was still a university teacher and the term social sculpture was still to be formed. Not everyone was considered a potential artist yet.
Edward Bernay had long formulated his theses on the direction of the masses, but it was not yet in the view of science to examine the chances of the power of these masses. The consequences of the seduction were all too well remembered: Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, another war of the worlds.
My contribution to this artwork shifted from the creative process of the painting to the organization of the event and its resources, the motivation and support of my young painter colleagues and the processing of the result and its presentation in an overall view.
The willingness to give up control was rewarded with the unique result of a group work, the painting of a joint work capable of consensus.
The appreciation of the actors, the preparation of a stage as a space for positive self-perception in the creative act, the training in technical handling and the empowerment in the democratic process blurred the categories for art criticism, but raised the invited fellow painters from their passivity. The invitation to perceive yourself as a creator as an experience inevitably leads to the formation of new interconnections in the brain of those involved, and thus to social plastic.
As a concept artist, I have repeatedly placed social art in the foreground in the following years. The founding of an artist network (EL-DRAC), the development of a new art form (Artsurprise), the creation of a creative think tank (CASAdelDRAGON) and a free university for informal education (UNIIE), all these were striking points in the life of a contemporary artist, who, as a colleague once said so well, enjoyed his time.
So it was only natural that I wanted to try out all the new painting materials: hardware and software, mailbox networks, the internet and social media too.
A common thread was drawn by Warhol’s work, from the multiple from the factory to social sculpture.
If social media bundles interests in groups, the development of such a group can also be perceived as a painting ground. The posts become motifs on this canvas, the re-tweets become the yardstick and the comments linking action and reaction. On one of these platforms, I founded a group called “Work of Art”. The group grew over the years with around 300 new members per day. What a fantastic painting surface for the contemporary painter.
In describing the group and its idea as a work of art, I had described what the meaning and purpose was: the transfer of virtual attention into real added value for the participants in the group.
I quickly experienced the limits of the beautiful new world (order). After the group soon reached over 30,000 members, my access options were restricted by the platform owners algorythm. My own posts in the group were censored and branded as unsafe content to the participants. At the same time, I received offers from the platform to increase the reach of my posts through advertising campaigns.
Despite steady growth, I never saw more than 35,000 members.
In addition to the pitfalls of neoliberal shareholder value thinking, after the wild-west beginnings of the Internet, I also experienced the increasing privatization and narrowing of public debate rooms, the growing censorship and the recycling of modern former military technology through the military-industrial complex.
For me, after almost a hundred years now, not only has the pandemic situation of multinational scope come full circle, but also the establishment of the world of thoughts of an Eduard Bernays in the new elite.
As is so often the case, the creative industries were the first to fall victim to political action. As the critical spirits fell silent, the seizure of power went through fear and terror. Looting in the opportunity zones, the crushing of the middle class, a gigantic redistribution of wealth in the hands of a very few, social distance was added to the social.
As a small child, I asked my grandma how the Second World War and mass murder became the truth. She owed me the answer, as she herself was a victim of violence. The silence may alleviate one’s own wounds, it opens new ones in the following generations.
The wise Beuys put it in words: not everyone is an artist, but everyone has the potential to do so. I will add: It requires development, which requires space, knowledge and motivation.
In the middle of the pandemic, I devised a new social sculpture and brought it to life, MUARCO, a mobile museum in which visitors themselves become artists and curators. Despite social distancing, the project was extremely well received. And it showed me the way for me as a contemporary artist for the years to come.
There is a saying in my mother tongue: Only the tough will get it into the garden. From this I learned from the failure of the promise of salvation of social media that it also takes strength to reach the place of the creative oneself. As a social artist, I can welcome people into my environment, if they have identified and reached the creative place, but I cannot carry them to this place.
The transfer of virtual attention into real added value has failed successfully. Science wins by excluding the untrue. I stick to Carl Popper and would like to enjoy the coming years and share this pleasure with those who find their way to the places of creativity themselves.
Of course, it remains a guess, but it seems likely that Beuys would also have tried out social media and ultimately discarded it.
So I want to do it now, and withdraw, grateful for the knowledge gained, the opportunity lies in the asocial death of the ego.
This article is written just for you, as a reference, as an invitation, as an encouragement. You will find me and we will meet, at the place of creation, when our work and mine are intertwined in our common work of art.
After posting the link to this article once on the social media platform, the provider didn’t allowed me to post it twice, even not into my own status or my own groups. (2021-01-10).