Arbeitszeit: 39:00 Stunden
Aesthetics, ethics and consent
And it becomes apparent how many forms of consent are not conscious. And it looks as if it was bad that we consent to things without being conscious of them. And I just can't resolve it at the moment because I think there's a big emphasis on consciousness is such a thing of the global North, um, like the preference for conscious action, for authored action, for conceptualized, pre-thought action, from the glorious mind. Authored actions - the rationality behind it - and I just like - I think it's...
It's in some way oppressive and it requires the people who should make consent to know so much about themselves and to be able to verbally express and to me, it just feels wrong.
"I can't tell you why (YET), but it feels wrong."
(Quote from the video)
On the timescale and costs of ethical Aesthetics
For people like me, when I still studied at the School of Art and Design, Kassel:
When working as an artist, experimentation is part of one’s process. It is about assessing what one is capable of doing, but also the “material” itself leads to new insights (material can be anything your working with, also e.g. text or music). There’s not one artist methodology, and especially in the field of artistic research, where a large part of my practice is situated, the ways of how to do things serve both as a “product” themselves and as a critique towards predominant forms of gaining knowledge or producing art. Therefore artist methodology in my field must always be extremely patch-work, extremely subjective and extremely vulnerable. This text aims at disseminating the time and place artistic practices takes, dependent on the existence of a strong ethical framework.
Where certain art practices are rather set to use experimentation to eventually stage the product, artistic research is about rendering visible the experiments and also to demystify the artist as the goose laying golden eggs out of their own will and ingenuity. For me, it is about rendering visible the complex socio-political network that enables artists to do, what they do. In many cases, unsurprisingly, artists are quipped with multiple privileges from the get-go, often rendered invisible in art worlds in which the artists do not have to reveal their positionality. The number of artists that could afford the precarity of artistic lifestyles because of inherited wealth and other capitals (such as education) is – of course -undetermined (you can go ahead and look for some artists’ CVs – it is extremely unlikely that you’ll find any remark about their class background). If from a working class background an artist is better served to have a practice of short production cycles, with the ability to be mobile and flexible, than having long-term and situated practices - at least when it is about visibility. Visibility is a currency and choosing a practice that can become visible quickly and cheaply, will enable working class artists to take part in the economies of art market art worlds that require fast and consistent production. Art market art worlds dominate hegemonic understandings of art, exactly because they are so visible.
Art market art worlds look very different in different parts of the world, even different in European countries, yes, even on national level. Recently I was invited to clubhouse, this new, still elitist social network. There’s already a German art scene on it and I just listened into a conversation with someone who is also part of “Frankfurter Hauptschule” - talking about his solo-exhibition that concerns the art school “Städl” in Frankfurt, a hot oven for hot art-market art world artists. His aim was to demystify the Städl mythos, by exhibiting exactly in the way it is required in and reproducing the art market art worlds: By producing objects, rather than processes and surfaces instead of ethics.
Somehow, I can still understand this stance: I can understand it from the perspective of accessibility. The interesting object draws people in, the object tells without words, the visual language creates affects, even though these affects may not be understandable on a cognitive level (but rather on a physical, emotional and unconscious level). The tangible object can be a bridge.
Luckily I received the chance to encounter artistic practices that don’t receive this amount or kind of attention. Art practices that don’t “exhibit”, but “do” things. You would find some of these practices in some of the political biennials (e.g. documenta) and in relation to my wage work, which is with Archive Books (and its associated project initiative), a publishing house that is publishing discourse on political art practices. Sometimes they also somehow manage to be a gallery practice, but I don’t know how that works, really.
I love objects and art works and I love the thinking behind creating access, something the political art world really suffers from not being able to grant, because it is often accommodated by extremely boring text (like the very one at hand).
The struggles to create legitimacy for art practices that are long-term, process oriented, sustainable and often socially engaged, took the route of academization. Because of not being able to be as quick as in the art market art worlds the place to create validation is through the academy. In the hegemonic systems of the current state of capitalism and colonialism , the academic apparatus has served as a truth and value production system for over a century, with its roots tracing back far into the past. The academy is deeply colonial, patriarchal and ableist, but it is slow, compared to the art market art worlds.
Confining to this system creates a slightly oxymoronic state: One the one hand one encounters reality in the people and topics you are working with in an ethical way, on equal footing and with great intimacy and on the other hand you have to reflect extremely abstractly within the ruleset of the academy, often not intelligible to the people you are actually working with and for. You have to navigate two mutually exclusive worlds: The academy is not able to understand your sensual approach to working with political topics and the political topics don’t understand the academic world.
To return to the geography of the art-worlds: In Frankfurt there’s a strong emphasis on certain art forms and here in Berlin, where I now live, there’s a more balanced co-existence of art-worlds. In Kassel, where I used to live, my practice didn’t have any possibility to exist. The reasons are complex and should be part of another text, but the point is: To practice in an ethical, long-term oriented, situated and deaccelerated manner requires to be in a certain place and it is not the periphery.
Like me, many artists perceive it as a necessity to eventually create the frameworks for their practice. Academic performance needs to be done as a sacrifice to create a space for art working that is not centered on fast production and that still wants to produce art works, affective objects if you will, but in a strictly ethical manner.
It makes work extremely dissatisfying, because one is constantly waiting for grant applications to go through (or working so hard to save up), so these processes can be funded, because if done with full accountability, you have to take care of the framework, you must be able to pay people you are working with and taking from, you must be able to built relationships that need time, time that you can’t spend on working for making a living. It is burdened with so much stress, because you live in uncertainty (of course balanced with Euro-privilege in my case). One doesn’t know what the final product will be, and it might as well be, that the final product is far from a series of attractive objects, because the process expected you to give up your aesthetic education and skills in producing attractive surfaces in favor of being ethical towards a topic or your collaborators. It becomes understandable, that well researched, ethically executed and yet aesthetic artworks are incredibly expensive, because they take time – and who has the money for it? Who even asks if an artwork is produced in an ethical way?
In the video below I reflected on my use of the camera in my artistic practice. I would call it an artwork itself, even though the aim was not to create a certain aesthetic, because I lacked the capitals to do so (time/money). I was asked for this website to produce something that would roughly take half of a working day to make. And if I wasn’t so ethical, it would have only taken half of a day. But the subtitling and writing this text added to it another 10+ hours, maybe that is the ratio (2:5) by which you have to look at it, if you produce as solo artists for different art worlds (add another inestimable amount for collaborative ethical practices).
Amelie Jakubek (*1990) is a transdisciplinary artist, moderator and organizer, working across the fields of sociology and fine art praxis. She has been active in collectives, (art) education (with young and disabled folks), (counter) art world institutions (documenta 14 aneducation program assitant, project space festival Berlin), publishing (Archive books), political activism (with cultural activists from Kassel) and with cinematic expressions (as an artist) . She uses artistic and non-artistic means to understand the relationships between single persons and collective histories. Her research focuses on artistic means in conflict analysis and management within groups of various scales and timelines, anticolonial approaches to collective agency and strategies for fostering inclusivity by exploring dividual (instead of individual) subjectivity, which is why she urges to address other currents in her subject formation: She is a white, able-bodied, cis-gendered, European, middle-class, first-generation academic, who is entangled with humans and non-humans of her past and present, who*which allow her to see beyond the structural boundaries of her individual performativity. She performed and exhibited her work with her collective ACAD&C (Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Weltkunstzimmer Düsseldorf, Kunstverein Gegenwart Leipzig, Kreuzberg Pavillon Berlin) and as a single artist (stayhungry, Kleinwalsertal, Galerie im Körnerpark Berlin, Kunstverein am RosaLuxemburg-Platz Berlin, DOKFest Kassel, Vesch Wien).