IMAGINE. Towards an eco-aesthetic, 2011


The Aarhus Art Building,?Centre for Contemporary Art, Denmark
Artists and curators are?hereby invited to submit?proposals for 2011.
Deadline March 15th

Only when people are in a position to use their own creative?potentials, which can be enhanced by an artistic imagination, will a?change occur [….] Art can and should strive for an alternative that?is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but is also?beneficial to all forms of life on our planet. ?Rasheed Araeen: Ecoaesthetics. A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century
In the autumn of 2009, Rasheed Araeen, editor of the respected?periodical on art and culture Third Text, launched a frontal attack on?the modern ego and the recuperation of the avant-garde. Instead of the?continued rigid production of objects and a stubborn anchoring in art?institutions, Araeen pleads for a collective artistic imagination as?the only road towards “[…] rivers and lakes of clean water, collective?farms and the planting of trees all over the world.”
>From what is perhaps a slightly one-track masculine perspective, ?Araeen’s manifesto examines earlier failed attempts to step down from?the pedestal of the bourgeoisie in favour of a collective commitment?to our surroundings and the environment. Nevertheless, the notion of?art as a positive, giving alternative unhampered by the restraints of?either representation or negation is relevant in a new decade in a new?millennium.
In trying to conceive of such an alternative it seems a reasonable?first step to take a closer look at alliances between art and?sustainable development For at the roots of the idea of sustainability?lie an ethical imperative and a persistent struggle against inequality?– parameters that seem indispensable today if we actually want to?imagine change and alternatives.
The notion of sustainability first aroused political attention in the?1970s, although it can also be traced back to the 1960s in the shape?of various grass-roots movements. In 1972 the UN Conference on the?Human Environment was held in Stockholm – this was the first of its?kind, and at the same time the first transnational forum that even?considered the environment and society as a single, interconnected?issue.
The conference was strongly influenced by the book Limits to Growth?published by the global think tank Club of Rome the same year, in?which the problems of exponential growth vis-à-vis the limited?resources of the Earth were outlined. The book inspired thoughts about?the limits of growth in terms not only of the human population but?also of economic factors. This realization that the Earth was not an?inexhaustible storehouse of resources contributed to the development?of a notion of sustainability that takes the future generations of the?Earth into account.
The correlation between ecological and social issues is a fundamental?aspect of thinking about sustainability, and consequently also?involves concepts like responsibility and ethics. Similarly, in?various movements that have consistently had sustainability as a?central point of reference since the 1970s, for instance Social?Ecology and Ecofeminism, sustainability is inextricably bound up with?an astute critique of the dominant hierarchical structures.
The notion of sustainability thus includes the consideration of social?structures, subjection and domination, ethics and economics on an?equal footing with consideration of the environment and the ecology.?If art today is to have the above-mentioned positive starting point,?it needs to think about this complex apparatus as a whole and imagine?an alternative. Only thus can we move towards an art that is healing?and affirmative – and thus towards an eco-aesthetic in the new?millennium.
With this background the Aarhus Art Building is hereby issuing an Open?Call for Proposals for 2011. We welcome suggestions for group ?exhibitions, solo exhibitions and workshops as well as suggestions for? projects in public space.

Guidelines can be found at?

The guidelines must be followed in the? application to make it eligible for consideration.

By Sacha Kagan

Research Associate at the ISCO - Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization (ISKO - Institut für Soziologie und Kulturorganisation), Leuphana University Lueneburg, Sacha Kagan founded the International level of Cultura21, Network for Cultures of Sustainability, as well as the International Summer School of Arts and Sciences for Sustainability in Social Transformation (ASSiST). The focus of his research and cultural work lies in the trans-disciplinary field of arts and (un-)sustainability. Doctor in Philosophy (Leuphana University Lueneburg) with a thesis on the subject of culture, the arts and sustainability under the perspective of complexity ; M.A. in Cultural Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam) ; and Graduate of Sciences Po Bordeaux (political sciences). For Cultura21, Sacha is also coordinating the eBooks series, the regular updates on our multi-lingual website, the English section of our webmagazine and the work of our Lueneburg-based interns.