A Proposal for
Research at Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen
- The Academy and The Corporate Public
- Art Production in a Dramatised Field
In the following I will propose a research project to be implemented at
the Kunstakademi, Bergen, department of Kunsthogskolen i Bergen.
Due to renewed focus on research at Kunsthogskolen in Bergen, I was compelled
to elaborate on some preliminary ideas about artistic research, its methodology,
and where to locate research projects within the Kunstakademi, Bergen,
as part of Kunsthogskolen in Bergen.
Research and investigation
have always been fundamental to artistic practice.
It was about ten years ago, in the early nineties, that a new generation
of artists re-inserted the idea of research into contemporary art practice.
This art was distinguished by its use of quasi-scientific methods for
the investigation of its subject matter, and 'scientific' aesthetics for
the visualisation of their results.
But we may go back in time as long as we like. Artists have always researched
their subject matter, historically, sociologically, politically, religiously
and philosophically. They have researched their materials and working
methods; they have researched their professional contexts and their own
role as artists and as members of a social organism. Examples may range
from Giotto to Jackson Pollock, from Leonardo da Vinci to Marcel Broodthaers,
from Giorgio Vasari to Hans Haacke, from Gustav Courbet to Andrea Fraser
and from Angelika Kauffmann to Mark Dion.
Researching inherited problems.
The exaggerated advent of the new millennium may have created an artificial
distance to a century that has brought us the most incredible expansion
of technology, knowledge, information etc. This distance may enable us
to view, to record, to analyse, to investigate, to study, to compare...
to research the historical conditions of the twentieth century, including
changes in the arts and around the arts.
A large task in front of us.
Culturally, the 20th century has left us with both an enormous heritage
and a large task in front of us. The last two decades in particular have
confronted us with a process named 'globalisation' which brings vast shifts
in the visual representation of economy, politics, culture and entertainment.
Art practice and the theory of the fine arts have been fundamental to
those fields of visual culture.
Identity and diversity in
a global age.
The unifying (or homogenising) tendencies of globalisation could be seen
as creating a common language on the road to a global culture, but they
are necessarily opposed to, or rather escorted by, an increasing range
of diversity resulting from the break-up of the simple construction of
identity through nation, race and sex alone. Migration in a post-colonial
age comes hand in hand with an incredible mobility of exchange, trade
and travel, all of which break down boundaries and definitions: hybrid-cultures,
multi-ethnic with multiple identities and cross cultural codes, trans
gendered, cross genred.
Examining established definitions.
Under the aforementioned circumstances, we have to question established
definitions; we have to see their form as consisting of mixtures, overlappings,
relations and contexts.
> How can we speak of one
identity for the artist within the scale of this discussion? An art academy
has to offer and question different roles, motivations and meanings.
> How can we continue to speak of one (national) public sphere for
the arts? An art academy has to research into different publics, and one
aim for this research is to induce new publics, audiences and communities
around its knowledge, around the awareness and the sensitivity that a
discussion of the fine arts creates.
> And of course we have to question our own roles, as teachers, as
an institution, as an art academy and as the Kunsthogskolen in Bergen.
Who are we? What is our policy towards different publics? Who are our
partners, supporters and friends?
I will return to look
closer at these three fields for research later. The artist, the institution
and the public are three corners that interlink to make a triangle. The
communication between them shapes what lies in their centre: a definition
of art in time.
research and methodology
Artistic education and rhizomatic
My education as a visual artist did not teach me how to execute scientific
research. Artists' thinking and methodology are not, for the most part,
shaped through scholastic experience and scientific dissertation. Most
artists are educated in a more visual intelligence, in ways to make use
of a more chaotic, a rhizomatic kind of thinking. Methodology may therefor
meander or grow rhizomatically, the process might well turn out to be
a more interesting result than the outcome. (This remark is also of course
to be borne in mind regarding the following research project!)
Claiming the 'Litientia Poetica'.
'Fine Arts' are traditionally related to the scholastic fields 'Art History',
'Art Theory' and, in the Anglo-American context 'Cultural Studies'. These
can be used as helpful devices, as partners on research projects, but
by definition they do not constitute the field of the Fine Arts themselves.
As an artist I have to work with and against the definitions of my profession
and the field that it claims. I might therefore use methods that are elsewhere
regarded as imprecise. What might, through the eyes of a scientist, look
to be 'amateurish' is in fact a highly skilled dilettantism; what might
look like a 'pseudo scientific' approach may in fact be an artistic cognitive
To do research in my very own field I have to rely on my expertise as
a visual artist. I will use the chance here to apologise to any critic
(with a background in the field of sciences) for using sometimes a somewhat
subjective point of view. I claim the 'Litientia Poetica'.
Taking this kind of 'artistic freedom' may be a privilege but it does
however come with obligations. It should not repel criticism but invite
it. And if we would claim that the artistic battle for a growing awareness
has no rules, does that then turn all artistic exploration into research?
How can we avoid the redundant simplification that converts any research
into good research?
Rules and sets of relations.
Perhaps the term research could be seen as a helpful device to give one's
own experiments a structural framework. And, like any other research,
it is probably important to what extent it defines its field and its subject,
as well as how far it can create for itself a set of its very own rules.
Research and investigation.
Also, one has to differentiate the term research from 'investigation'
(German/ French: Recherche). Artists often (mis-)understand the investigation
of their subject matter's historical, political, sociological or other
backgrounds as research. As long as this does not in itself provide innovations
in the field of arts, I would suggest that one regard this kind of investigation
as a necessary first step for providing grounds for artistic research.
To be consistent, research could be seen as an artistic and creative transformation
of the investigated matter in order to (hopefully) create an innovation
in the field of fine arts.
Two-some-ness as a dialogue
One will notice when reading this exposition that I often used two-some-ness
for the set-up of its inner structure. This should already have become
apparent from the title, 'The Academy and The Corporate Public' - 'Art
Production in a Dramatised Field' which is actually the title for one
project which has several parts. Each of these two main parts may consist
of at least another two different elements.
In order to make this method clear I would not use the word 'dialectic',
because it implies the necessity of an 'other' as the missing part of
a whole. Instead of using the terms of dualistic opposition, I would prefer
juxtaposition in dialogue form, so that we are still forced to think in
terms of relations and differences.
The 'second' is the first of different possibilities; it introduces a
plural as a dialogue of singulars. This is a necessary condition to discuss
definitions, fields and relations, which again is a prerequisite for the
discussion about art.
Environment and difference.
Artists' research is not competitive with, nor comparable to, scientific
research in the way it is carried out. This means that artistic experiments
will not have to be based on equal premises, systematics or classification.
But they will have to correspond to the co-ordinates of the particular
circumstances in order to make a difference to those circumstances. In
other words: experiments should be kept simple and according to the possibilities,
but they should be carried out with an energy that is directed against
the framing conditions.
Evaluation and its context.
It seems that in the arts, progress cannot be objectively evaluated through
knowledge. As with any other research, it has to be evaluated on the extent
of the increase of knowledge within one's own field , and whether this
might, as a 'side effect', shape, influence or in any way 'improve' our
society. But success is a relative thing and there is certainly more that
one way to success. That is another reason why we have to introduce dialogue,
two-some-ness, into the evaluation. .
Relations - revelations.
That is why evaluation depends not only on what the research may reveal,
but in what context it does so , and to what role it wants to deploy its
results. The fields for investigation exist in relation to each other
as do the fields where the results are displayed. This is how research
A field is always made up
of a set of relations.
I have already mentioned in the preface that art is not a defined
entity but temporarily constructed by a discussion of relations.
Three fields set the relations
for a definition of art in time.
I consider the three fields and their relations -the artist, the institution
and the public sphere- to be of fundamental importance to all our Kunstakademi
research projects. The following is intended as a short mapping. I want
to provide some examples for possible research in order to show the complexity
of relations. Then I will move on to both of my more specified proposals,
both of them researching the relationship of the Kunstakademi in Bergen
towards a corporate public.
Fig 1: The fields of
Public <> Art Academy
Research into the set of relations
between the Art Academy and the public.
The relationship between institutions and the public has changed drastically
in the 20th century. Some current parameters for organising the changes
are: media society, culturalisation, privatisation, sponsorship, funding,
and diversification of 'the public sphere' into various special-interest
groups, the corporate public.
The university and three steps
We see the institutions discussing communities not without given reason.
It appears that one of the latest debates in the world of academia identifies
three historical phases of the university. If its earliest function was
to archive knowledge ('scholastic university') and subsequently, after
Humboldt, to produce knowledge, then recent discussions seem to suggest
a new function for the university; that is, to see the growth of a community
and the expansion of knowledge as an interlinked project.
Art, knowledge and communities.
The interdependence of art and its public comes as no surprise for
an institution like the Kunstakademi. We have to consider that 'AKADEMEIA'
represents a different model of teaching/learning than universities do.
Named after the Plato school's favourite classroom, a little grove near
Athens, the idea of the "Akadhmeia" was reintroduced into Italy
around 1450. At that time the scholastic universities had already been
archiving knowledge for 300 years, but now they were confronted with a
different kind of learning: 'AKADEMEIA' was the name for a new social
quality of learning, for informal meetings of interdisciplinary character,
for discussion and exchange of information, for reciprocal teaching and
The many names of an institutionalised
When I speak here of 'academy' or 'AKADEMIE', then I am speaking in
reference to this concept, one to which I will soon return. When I talk
about 'Kunstakademi', then I talk about the institution in Norway that
educates artists. When I mention 'KHIB', then I am talking about an institution
for fine and specialised arts and design in Bergen. The words 'academic',
'academical' and 'academia' are signifiers that point towards the field
of scholastic (university) education.
Communities constitute value.
When I return to my topic, which is the fragmentation of the public
sphere and the 'making of publics', we have to notice that it is not only
the university and the academy that are concerned with the constitution
of their products through
relationships with communities.
This has also been fundamental to ideological developments that we can
observe around and about. It is, for example, one of the main goals of
advanced capitalism to create communities around commodities, to constitute
the consumers through the consumed, to make them 'love it all'.
Equally booming are 'communities' as projection screens in the arts. Along
with 'networks' they became a value in themselves, a promise of social
surplus, which is essential for marketing. So along with the 'making of
communities' comes the exploitation of the value that they seem to represent.
Critical thought needs condensation
But it is the analysis and the critique of these contemporary inclinations
that bring us back to the research of art and communities.
I see the development of communities around critical thought, reciprocated
by the development of critical thought in communities, as counter-strategies
against the exploitation, or rather, capitalisation of fragmented publics.
It means to create a public by criticising the commodified making of publics.
However, the proposed projects have not been developed in defence of any
idea of the public, be it fragmented, corporate or granted by whatever
state, though as my work continues, it cannot but alter conceptions of
what the public sphere is and how it could operate.
As an art academy we have to
be aware that the idea of the public sphere is changing. The relationships
to different publics should to be reconsidered and designed anew. The
Kunstakademi can create and educate its own public that moves towards
a critical analysis and engagement.
Two suggested areas for research:
> The Kunstakademi's public relations: how can it reach out, create
a public? How can the publics get involved with the Kunstakademi? How
can the Kunstakademi induce public debates? (Methods at our disposal include:
a mailing list, networks, editions, publications, the White Cube, the
open house, public events, our invitation policy)
> Corporate infiltration of a general public and the field of arts
(Areas for research include: corporate collecting, corporate identity,
sponsorship, branding, image transfer, censorship in the arts)
ARTIST <> ART ACADEMY
Research into writing the role of the artist and educating artist's
The image of the artist and the artist's role in society has changed
through the processes of cognition in art and sciences, in technology
How do the changes interfere
with the traditional roles?
> Which roles have been traditionally written? Why are these roles
reproduced in institutions?
> What knowledge and what role do we teach, what roles do we produce
for the artist in this society?
> What are the contents and methods of education? What ideologies do
> Are there any other pedagogic models? What possible forms are there
for collective production and project oriented work?
> What would be an appropriate basic training for 1st year students?
An art academy is made up of
artists as teachers and artists as students. The art academy's role is
also to invite and relate to artists and teachers/learners outside the
> How can they be attracted by an art academy ?
It is not only that an art academy educates or breeds artists.
> What models of 'the artist' exist in other fields, like those of
music, literature and film? How can we use them?
Institution <> Art Academy
What is an art academy , its education and methodology?
I have done research in this field already, when I set up an experimental
'Sommerakademie' in the framework of the Münchener Kunstverein (1994,
Germany). Also, as a result of my research and continuing work on the
reproduction of the image of the artist, I edited a publication on art
academies entitled AKADEMIE.
Intended as a 'reader' and 'academy guide', it gives an insight into the
historical development of academies. This includes reference to Plato
and the idea of the 'AKADEMEIA' as I have mentioned above: the academy
as a forum for non-hierarchical debate and interdisciplinary exchange
of information. This academy is, as a do-it-yourself organisation, based
on reciprocal teaching and learning. The quality of this exchange constitutes
Questioning the image that
an academy represents and that it reproduces.
An art academy does not need to have a defined, immutable identity in
order to enable this communication. It could distinguish itself from all
other institutions by being an interface through its set of debates inside
and outside, where institutes of universities, museums, libraries and
galleries could become part of the body of a discussion.
My project AKADEMIE questioned
the reproduction of the image of the artist by institutions and social
conditions and suggested the academy as a forum for a discussion of the
function of the arts, as a way to connect research, teaching and exhibition
making. This makes the academy a test site as much as an interface to
create and communicate a public discussion.
'Making academy' is not only
a process of learning; it is also a method of production.
Artist <> Public
Is the relation between the
artist and the public long since disturbed?
The renowned art historian Nikolaus Pevsner begins the foreword of his
research on the history
of art academies:
"Slowly I developed
the idea that a history of art could be based as much on the observation
of the relations between the artist and the world around him, as on
the description of the ever-changing historic styles.
The question, that has to alarm every art historian in view of the ruling
conditions, is why and how it could happen that the artist was so painfully
separated from its audience."
Well, Pevsner could not give
an essential answer to that question through researching the history of
the art academies, but he saw the crucial problems there: in the fields
of relation between the artist and the public, their organisation and
> How is the artist's role
in society defined? Who defines it? Who reproduces it?
> Who shapes the signs in this society? For whom are they shaped?
> The masses are producing the images by consuming them.
> How can artistic inventions and intellectual capital be protected?
Who controls the controllers?
> What are the needs of the publics? Who questions confidence?
> How are audiences structured, how are they qualified and what role
do they play for the artist?
> How do artists build up relationships and publics?
> What is the educational result of this relationship?
> Are there specialised roles of the artist for diversified communities?
> How is an artist's relation to a public different to the relation
between an art institution and a public?
THE POINT OF DEPARTURE
Fields to be ploughed.
I have dwelled on these relations a little, because I felt it was necessary
to give an overview of the territory in which further research may be
But let us not get muddled with the vast range of questions, let us rather
go back to my diagram again and imagine the fields and their relations
changing, and changing the discourse that is spiralling through the confusing
meshwork of relations and around art.
We have seen how the fields are not defined, that they often overlap.
Necessary relations, differences and definitions have to be negotiated
and discussed. The communication between these fields and inside of them
determines what is in the middle. But this is not a stable system in an
equilibrium, it is always in a state of change. An alternation of one
component will change all the others. As we know, art has a different
function in a different society, in a different economy. And here we are
proceeding towards the point of departure for this research...
Is something changing?
What are the changes, at the turn of the millennium, in our 'western'
Fig 2: The fields of
research, we see that they are not clear defined territories. They define
each other through relations. We have to see these relations as constituting
elements and we have to examine their mutual conditions.
An introduction to Corporate Rokoko
It is only in the last decade
of the 20th century that a greater public has become increasingly aware
of the path that advanced capitalism has taken over the last 100 years:
a triumphal procession of economic liberalism around the globe, a process
referred to as 'globalisation' or 'privatisation of the public'.
The analysis of this development, the consequences for the aforementioned
categories (the institution, the artist, the public) and the relationship
strategies within the corporate world are the issues for this research.
The former public sphere...
The so-called 'public sphere' was formerly guaranteed by the state (for
about 250 years the idea of a nation was a principle for organisation
of most of the western democracies) but is now increasingly handed over
to the interests of the ever merging international corporations.
As though imperialism and colonialism had been reversed, the weakened
nation states are nowadays afraid of the withdrawal or pullout of the
capital forces. Submitting themselves to a new order and global competition,
they cut wages and dismantle social security, just to attract those who
were traditionally called 'exploiters' to 'invest'.
We catch ourselves as couch potatoes within the spectacles before us:
the corporate mega mergers that take over the national state's self-proclaimed
autonomy, the global player that claims the democratically organised public
sphere as his playground. The new expansion of power, economically and
thus politically, is signalled visually with the use of signs, images
and logos. The occupation of the public sphere goes along with an appropriation
of sign, image and language.
...and the role of the arts...
Art in this game plays an important role to transmit the message and to
mould attractive sites for speculation and investment. Culture offers
lifestyle, symbolic value, image transfer, commodity, and tourist attraction.
It would appear that culture became the pyrotechnics in the big spectacle:
'The West Taking The Rest'.
This scenario of a changing public that I have mapped out very generally
here has various impacts on the significance of art in our (western) society
and the role of the artist and his professional life.
You may find all this something of an exaggeration, but I want to make
two things clear.
First: The public is in the process of changing...
Second: ...art and its relation to the public will also change . In a
society that is more and more shaped through reliance on corporate mega
structures, art will have a different function.
But to look at it in reverse: can art make changes to the public sphere
or can it create its very own (critical) audience?
The basic two pronged question then becomes: What will the art work be
and what will be its function?
The Academy and the public
After researching the possibilities
of an institution with AKADEMIE, in 1994, I am now more concerned with
the artist's and the art academy's relation to the public, and how the
global changes in economy start shaping the public sphere and the art
The corporate public and its
More specifically, I want to research an art academy's relation to a fragmented
public, the biggest chunks of which are defined, refined and/or influenced
by the interests of Corporations. The smallest pieces are then those who
are involved in a thorough discussion of art production.
If the relation 'The Academy and the Corporate Public' constitutes the
mapping of a problem faced by art production today , then the second part
of my project 'Art Production in a Dramatised Field' deals with an artistic
counter strategy towards (or, dramatising of) the manner in which discussion
of the artist's production is creating a new public.
Here again: How can we relate to the corporate public, to what extent
can we dramatise it? To what extent can we create a public around the
discussion of art?
In 1998, under the pen name 'Werner
von Delmont', I published a book
that could be called a pre-research of these questions. My investigation
into the subject of the function of the arts in a corporate public led
me to use the romantic novel as a model for the book, which is loosely
constructed out of three parts, including some semi-documentary material.
A novel in three parts.
The plot of 'Corporate Rokoko' is set in 2033, from which special viewpoint
it talks about the changes leading towards the development of a 'corporate
public' in the 1990's.
The first part of the book could be called a 'Chamber piece' in which
the protagonist, an ageing painter at the Court of the Corporate Rokoko,
comments on the art movements in the 1990's as heralding the idea of a
corporate public, leading finally to a new absolutism in 2033.
The second part is an essay by a courtier and art critic defending the
ideas of 'Corporate Culture' against criticism, whereas the third part
pretends to publish an 'original document' of the 1990's. This is in fact
an actual interview that I had previously conducted with Dr. Erhard Schüttpelz
and Prof. Jürgen Fohrman (Germanic Studies, University Bonn).
In this interview, we attempted to discuss the development of the public
sphere from the late absolutism until now. We focused in particular on
the importance of the organisation of critical consciousness in small
circles and the necessity for differentiation and de-differentiation of
these debates; in other words, to continue to modify the discussion whilst
at the same time trying to draw more people into joining it.
The problem and a counter-strategy.
This is what I intend with the following proposals. To try and map the
new problem, the origin of a corporate public. And to experiment with
dramatising a counter strategy, to start a differentiated debate about
'the art work of the future' in relation to the corporate publics and
to try and draw more people into this debate. That means creating a public
and a field of knowledge at the same time.
In the following, I want to outline
my two approaches, I want to locate them within the set of relations that
I have briefly mapped out above, the public, the artist and the art academy,
and I want to stage them in front of the public, the backdrop in the global
Academy (Akademi) and the Corporate Public.
I N T R O
A global economy...
The changes in the idea of a public sphere are easily detected in the
economy of the arts.
Corporate collecting, corporate museums, foundations and sponsorship mean
that the artist, the art institutions, and finally most of cultural life
depend increasingly on corporate money, taste and influence. As indicated
in 'Corporate Rokoko' I see the tendency towards a new and courtly function
for the arts: as spectacle for the masses, connoisseurship for the few.
...and the Norwegian public?
One of the major conditions for the research is in my opinion the particular
condition of Norwegian economics, arts and politics. Compared to the USA,
Great Britain or Germany, Norway is a very young national state, with
a tendency to cut itself off from extra-Scandinavian contexts and developments.
Thanks to the exploitation of its natural resources, it seems to be a
self-sufficient and provident welfare state, but it is very questionable
if it either wants or is able to resist the effects of global economy.
Due to its reliance on export and because of its investments into the
international stock market, Norway seems already heavily entangled within
a global economy.
Norway's national art scene is reasonably well subsidised by the state,
whilst the artists seem to be reaching out to be connected to international
It is therefore a concern of this investigation to provide grounds for
a scientific and artistic discussion, to create an overview of the status
> First of all, to investigate
what has been happening internationally, looking particularly at Germany,
Great Britain and the USA, with an additional focus on altered teaching
and research conditions in the European countries. (This part is almost
completed with the use of the pre-research grant.)
> The second step is to apply
this knowledge in order to start a debate ourselves, on a national level,
about the changing public. Although the idea of a nation state is fading
it still provides a territory with a certain set of characteristics that
determine our environment. One of the main goals is to establish contacts
and relations that are based on responsibility and criticality between
the art academy and the developing corporate public. Here it is not only
about involving those who are shaping a corporate public, but also representatives
of artists unions and state-funded programming. Potential tools would
be conducting interviews and to establish a seminar for students that
would accompany the research. (This part would be finished by the end
The investigation into the relation
between 'The Academy and the Corporate Public' would then result in a
symposium (open to the public) and finally in a book.
P L A N
N I N G
First step: Overview of an
With regards to this , I have already started commissioning and acquiring
texts, some of which will provide us with an introduction into the problematic
relation of a corporate public and the field of the arts, whilst others
will try to supply an overview of the specific problems with a corporate
public in the USA, Great Britain and Germany.
It is not by coincidence that most of the writers I have contacted are
practising visual artists. I see it as necessary to show how artists themselves
cope with the problem of a corporate public and I want to point out different
ways in which research can accompany art practice.
The authors assembled so far:
> The internationally renowned artist Hans Haacke has written a text
entitled 'Symbolic Capital Management or what to do with the Good, the
True, and the Beautiful'. This will be one of the two introductory texts
to the subject. It further shows how research can manifest itself as text
production alongside artistic and visual production
> The art historian Hubertus
Butin has written the text 'When Attitudes Become Form Philip Morris Becomes
Sponsor'. This is the second text that will give us a general outline
of the subject matter against the backdrop of American developments.
> Andrea Fraser coined the
idea of art production as 'Services' in the early 90's. Her text is taken
from the 'Inaugural Speech (for inSITE97)', Fraser's contribution to a
bi-national exhibition of public artworks commissioned for the San Diego/Tijuana
area. The speech was delivered at the opening ceremony of that event which
was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. Fraser took the podium
after the United States Attorney for Southern California had read a letter
from President Clinton, and the Under-secretary for Foreign Relations
for Mexico had read a letter from President Zedillo. Fraser applied her
researched material strategically and artistically to this event - the
speech is given as a performance and yet remains a speech.
> The artist Nils Norman works
with models and diagrams
in order to propose ecological, political and economic forms of resistance.
He will contribute three diagrams depicting the organisation of the corporate
public and suggest some dis-orderly counter strategies.
> Alice Creischer and Andreas
Siekmann are both artists who have initiated 'Messe2ok', an artist-run
art-fair. The money that Siemens offered as sponsorship was turned down
in order to create a collective economy.
Their analysis of the documentary 'Bild Leipzig' (1992-1995) by Karl Hofmann
sees the neo-liberal Corporate Identity of the West as a parallel to the
language of the Agit-Prop of the former East German State. They understand
the promotion of the arts as a marketing device for Berlin, a tool with
which to brand the new capital.
> Dierck Schmidt's work was
recently affected by censorship when his paintings were taken out of an
exhibition about 'critical painting', a show 'initiated' by the Siemens
Kulturstiftung in Germany.
Schmidt finished his postgraduate studies at the Rijksakadmie in Amsterdam.
There, he observed, as is also the case in many other European Institutions
of Education, structural and organisational changes linked with business
re-engineering; a process leading towards neo-liberal privatisation of
> Anthony Davies and Simon
Ford are a British team of artist/writers who have successfully branded
the name 'culturepreneur'. They will summarise their essays over the last
few years (Art Capital, Art Futures, Art Networks) and they will show
how artists' work and their communities are used by international corporations
to devise visual, symbolic and cultural strategies.
The second step is to apply
this knowledge in order to trigger for a (national) debate
This is in order to examine the different models for corporate interaction
with the arts in Norway.
> I have already, in the context
of a seminar and in preparation for this proposal, made a field trip with
students in order to see Statoil's collection of art in Stavanger and
to talk to Wenche Falkenhaug, the curator. This excursion was interesting
in so far as we realised that the company, which gains most of Norway's
gross national product, has very little ambition setting up a bright contemporary
collection or other programs of support and artistic benefaction. Most
of the art was bought under the aspect of interior decoration and of derivative
neo-expressionistic origin. The curator Mrs Falkenhaug was assisted by
Joffe Urnes, a young educationalist who, with the support of Statoil,
has written his thesis about corporate collecting. It could be considered
to involve Mr Urnes in the process of this research.
But in order to reach out and
get Kunsthogskolen and the Kunstakademi better connected to a democratic
public and a corporate public, I want to conduct interviews, visit significant
members of these publics and/or invite them to Bergen:
> Contact has already been
established with Jacob Brun when he was the curator of the Astrup Fearnley
Museum in Oslo.
The Astrup Fearnley Family represents a patronage involved with the arts
for generations, but on the other hand, it is also an important corporate
player on the Norwegian national scene for arts and economics. Unlike
the slow decision-making and low budgets of public spaces, the corporate
patrons could, with the help of a curator, graciously dig around and import
internationally renowned art. This again brought international attention
to the Astrup Fearnley Museum and nationally provided it with the status
of benefactor. Astrup Fearnley has recently hired the former attendant
of Kunstneres Hus in Oslo, Åsmund Thorkildsen, who is allegedly
interested in establishing better contact between the museum and the Norwegian
art scene, as well as with other institutions. I am curious how this will
effect the relation to the various publics to whom they have obligations
as a collection.
> Further, I would like to
investigate the collection and sponsoring policies of 'Den Norske Bank'
with Jacob Lund, 'Norsk Hydro' with curator Peder Lund, who formerly worked
for Christie's Auction House, and the collection of Telenor which was
curated by Åse Kleveland, a former MP and minister of culture.
These Norwegian models of corporate
infiltration of the arts should be seen in international competition with
examples from Germany - e.g. Siemens Kulturstiftung and Deutsche Bank
- and Britain - e.g. Saatchi, whilst North American collecting and funding
models could be considered more as prototypes for the developments in
The interviews will be directed
towards elaborating the different structures and intentions of those corporate
models. They should try to critically question the corporate infiltration
of the public and work towards engendering a statement in favour of the
sustenance of the public sphere.
I want to counter the interrogation
of corporate interest by questioning representatives from the organisations
that originated from the idea of a democratically organised public sphere:
> Anders Eiebakke is a representative
of UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfunn). He has recently stirred some turmoil
by criticising Norwegian art politics heavily in front of an international
> Jonas Ekeberg is the editor
of 'Billedkunst', an art magazine owned by the Artists' Union.
> Finally I want to frame
these interviews with a short history of the idea of a public sphere in
Norway. I am thinking of talking with Thomas Hylland Eriksen who, as an
anthropologist, has worked extensively on the development of the 'Norwegian
Self'. I would also like to include Dag Solhjell and his project 'The
Norwegian Institution of Art - its origin and development 1700 - 2000'.
A seminar, a symposium and
This second part of my investigation into the idea of a Corporate Public
should go hand in hand with a seminar and would be concluded by the end
of 2000. A symposium will then be held on the basis of the investigated
material which would try to assemble the eventually most interesting positions
around one table, thus forming a nucleus for a public debate.
A documentation including both
international and national debates would further distribute the results
of this seminar.
C o n t r o l & O u t l o o k
Control is provided by the seminar
that follows the research, by the different people involved through contributing
their texts, providing opinions and involving their institutions .
'Creating an overview' should
be finished by the end of May 2000. 'Creating a discussion' should be
finished by December 2000. The publication should be finished in May 2001.
I hope that this publication
will be a thorough documentation of how artists experience and analyse
the state of the discussion encircling the public sphere and its fragmentation,
its capitalisation and its globalisation at the turn of the century. I
hope it will provide a solid ground for all further discussion investigation
and research of the subject matter, artistically or otherwise.
I also hope that 'Kunsthogskolen i Bergen' will profit within its public
profile from the connections and discussions that shall follow this research
and finally, I hope that we will educate artists who are able to criticise
and to create publics around the discussion of their work.
Art Production in a dramatised
I n t r o
Have we now researched the
We might sit in circles, we might come together and discuss important
matters, we might make contacts and produce symposia and books, but all
of this - and I also refer ironically to myself (as well) - is artistic
This is something that an intelligent academy has to investigate anyway,
because it is the responsibility of a 'public institution' to create public
Investigation leads to research.
According to what I've already said about research and investigation,
'The Academy and The Corporate Public' may be called a pre-scientific
stage of enquiry, an encircling of the subject matter, a process of mapping
It is here that I want to talk about the second part of my research project
'Art Production in a Dramatised Field' which we can see as the process
of artistic transformation, or dramatisation, of the knowledge gained
by investigating different publics and their subjection to corporate interest
(The Academy and the Corporate Public).
Privatisation in an artificial
Again, the starting points for my considerations are the privatisation
of the public sphere, the changes in political and economic structures
- all of which make our life at the beginning of the 21st century so exciting.
In order to use research centred around the 'art work of the future',
and investigate its aesthetic, its corporate public and its social function,
I have to set up an experimental model.
To research into the very heart of capitalism's lair, we must be able
to see its relativisms and uncertainties as a game in order to be able
to begin our work. I have to turn the situation into an artificial set-up
in order to at least be able to see it.
The stage as a device for
This is why I want to introduce the device of the stage as an experimental
location (or as another name for 'the exhibition'). The words 'theatre',
'stage' and 'dramatisation' are primarily metaphors that hint towards
a certain point of view from (under) which we can see that 'All the
world's a stage, And all the men and women are merely players'.
Artistic production in this case is not necessarily theatre production
(even though theatre could be used as an artistic device). Rather, artistic
production is encouraged to see itself positioned on a (social) stage.
"The point is rather
that such an exemplification, such a mise-en-scène of theoretical
motifs renders visible aspects that would otherwise remain unnoticed.
Such a procedure already has a respectable line of philosophical predecessors,
from late Wittgenstein to Hegel. Is not the basic strategy of Hegel's
'Phenomenology of Spirit' to undermine a given theoretical position
by 'staging' it as an existential subjective attitude (that of asceticism,
that of the 'beautiful soul', etc.) and thus to reveal its otherwise
hidden inconsistencies, that is, to exhibit the way its very subjective
position of enunciation undermines its 'enunciated', its positive contents?"
Questions that inform the
nature of the stage-model.
To what extent is the work of art a trigger for behaviour and cognition?
To what extent is art just a social construction? What quality does an
art-object have to make a social construction attractive?
And, most importantly, how might those qualities inherently influence
each other within a public debate growing around the art?
A new game with different
The stage enters as an analogy drawn not only in order to see late capitalism
as a game but also, and very importantly, in order to found the attempt
to stage a new game with different rules. In this new game, we have to
see ourselves not only as viewers, or as powerless participants in some
kind of pre-ordained reality scenario, but also as part of the game itself.
The chance is that perhaps then we can begin to act out our own participation.
To alter the script.
With the (artificial) device of a stage in place, we can see ourselves
as artists appearing in a dramatised environment where we can try to alter
the script and the props, and then see if this helps us to shape a different
audience. With a different audience in place, perhaps we can effect an
exit from the aforementioned 'game' and thenceforth continue our work
as artists outside of its strictures.
P L A N N I N G
I am currently working on launching two 'stages' as experimental set-ups
for my research. One is a 'White Cube'-space in a forlorn spot for art
(Bergen), where I am working with students to create an exhibition space
within a former storage garage in the school. The other is a kind of 'Cabaret
Voltaire'-clandestine basement theatre in a major art centre (New York),
where I am planning an exhibition in the gallery American Fine Arts.
Bergen, the theatre and its proliferation (within the world).
The exhibition space 'Ekko' that was shared amongst all the departments
of Kunsthogskolen in Bergen closed its doors recently. This is on one
hand a loss, because 'Ekko' was a truly needed showcase for a highly diversified
school. On the other hand and due to a lack of stringency and coherence,
this space could not attract a scene of regulars and/or induce a differentiated
With regard to what has so often been said in this exposition about creating
a discursive public around artistic production, an art academy needs to
make itself the centre of such a process. That is the main reason for
installing a White Cube Space in one of Kunsthogskolen's storage rooms.
This location has the advantage of an entrance on street level, promising
on the one hand unrestricted access, whilst on the other hand the entrance,
slightly hidden at the side of the building, almost plays a game of secrecy.
Run by students.
This space should be used as a 'gallery' or rather, used to find out what
a gallery could be. Exhibitions and other events should be planned, organised
and supervised by two groups of students. A model for operating the 'White
Cube' could be a way (how) for non-profit spaces to organise their structure
. One group is an executing curatorial organ (board of directors), the
other one a supervising and advisory committee. Each of these groups could
constitute a seminar, but both of them should be obliged to render public
account to the Kunsthogskolen.
Bergen, the scene is now.
The use of theatrical devices is also known from sociological and behavioural
studies. They seem to make sense in areas where the relationship between
art and its public is either distorted through corporate interest, or
hardly existent in the first place. Although Bergen is the second largest
city in Norway, it seems to be difficult to maintain a significant young
art scene. Although there have been some innovative activities over the
last few years in Bergen, it looks as though the migration to Oslo can't
be stopped. Every so often, the Kunstakademi's students are involved in
some youth-cultural events, like the recent 'feber' student festival,
but none of these activities seem to create a 'scene'
or a statement which is influential in other cities or publics.
A modern classic.
The idea of a 'White Cube' is a classic in modern art. Since the 1960's,
it was often criticised as an esoteric sentiment, as l'art pour l'art,
as an ivory tower for the arts. However, I want to re- introduce it as
a format that represents a clean-cut challenge to work against or along
with it. Here the White Cube's formalistic image may be set against a
particular practice of the 1990's which has increasingly assessed communication,
structural and organisational work, networks and communities as values
in themselves. I want to discuss the simultaneous commodification and
the erosion of these terms through re-introducing the 'White Cube' in
order to focus more on the work itself and its construction as a work
of art. Further, a device like the 'White Cube' which is charged with
importance, could introduce a higher awareness of a dramatised field into
the production and the display of the art object, into the community that
creates a debate around those objects and which expands the discussion
onto the scenery of Bergen.
Step by step, what are the stages?
Can we discuss paintings, sculptures and videos as stages or as stage
devices? What happens
on those stages, what kinds of plays are initiated on them? How do they
relate to an audience and to the ideologies that constitute it? How can
they change something?
And if we can see the work of art as a stage or a prop, and also see ourselves
in relation to it, then where is the theatre for this relation? What might
constitute its parameters? How is an audience drawn into it?
So, we can ask: Is the work of art a stage which is placed in a theatre
called the 'White Cube'? And is this theatre not in fact just a model
of a theatre which is shaping its own social stage, called Bergen, in
a theatre called Norway for an audience called 'The International Art
Arts, the theatre and its representation (in the theatre)
The second experimental set-up is planned to happen in one of the main
centres of this very heterogeneous construction of a so-called 'international
art world'. I was asked to make an exhibition at the gallery 'American
Fine Arts' in New York and I have agreed under the condition that this
show will open at the beginning of the gallery-season, in September 2000.
Due to my teaching obligations I can not afford to stay away from Bergen
for longer periods. I will not use my extra research time for this project,
which saves money and compensation. Planning the project for September
also makes it possible to concentrate on the preparations over the summer
holidays, in June, July and August 2000.
A different set-up.
I want to use this invitation to install another view onto the idea of
Whereas the set-up in Bergen is rather simply defined through a relatively
empty field (the lack of an art scene or other theatrical devices) on
which the experiment is carried out, in New York the world is not merely
a stage, but the stage is also full of worlds.
Reflection of the reflected.
Since the gallery "American Fine Arts" has already reflected
on its position in this environment, and has dramatised and strategised
its appearances and audiences in various ways, then the gallery could
be seen as a theatre already. Yet it also represents what could be achieved
in Bergen. In order to introduce the discussion of 'the art work of the
future' (see above), I have to create a disruption in this 'living theatre'.
This only seems to be possible by making it artificial. That is to say,
I will set-up a 'real' theatre in the gallery.
The production will not only
include painting, sculpting, the making of stage designs, costumes and
props, script-writing and acting, but also collaborating and integrating
other artists, groups and students.
If we see this theatre as an experimental and artificial set-up for reflection
upon the gallery and its context, i.e. the making of an avant-garde, then
we should investigate and test historical models for our purpose. With
regards to 'mise en scene' and the 'creating communities' I find the following
'research laboratories' of interest: Marie Antoinette's Village, Futurists,
Cabaret Voltaire, the 'workers theatre' 1860-1914, the 'revue' in the
Weimar Republic, (Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet), Jack Smith and the Yippies,
the Situationist International, Kommune I, Punk, Fassbinder's Antitheater,
Representing the theatre (that is, the art activity in and around the
gallery) on its own stage (that is, the gallery's theatre) means that
we have two layers of discussion.
> One is happening in the
theatre and on the stage, as a reflection on itself and its relation to
the outside. That means, it sees itself as an artificial device that speaks
> The other discussion is happening between the audience and the work
of art (the discussion on the artificial theatre), to cause the audience
to reflect upon themselves as being part of the work of art as much as
they are part of its dramatisation.
Art as a social construction
is confronted with its constructed-ness.
One might say that this is what happens in theatres anyway. The difference
here is that the theatre's reflection upon itself, (we might know this
from 'absurdist' theatre, Dario Fo, Ludwig Tieck) is thrown onto the field
of the fine arts as an analogy for the construction of the work, i.e.
the art object and its relation to the constituting fields, the public,
the institution and the artist. This is what the play is about.
C o n t r o l & P e r s p e c t i v e s
It is important to see both
experimental stages together.
The idea of a proliferated theatrical set-up in Bergen is introduced on
to the stage of a gallery in one of the worlds largest art capitals, and
the theatre in New York becomes a model to dramatise the discussion around
the work of art (in Bergen). The experimental set-ups, due to their contrasting
environments, are differently structured, nevertheless I expect some synergy
to happen between them. They can reflect each other critically. The presence
of students from Bergen in New York would, therefore, be crucial to this
This research is geared towards
an international acknowledgement
It has to be tested in this context. The relations between both experiments
are equally important for Kunsthogskolen's public relation and image inside
and outside of Bergen.
One sure way of evaluating the research is to see if the project receives
any press from journals specific to the art field. But knowing that we
have a very fast moving market which often focuses on seasonable trends
and sensations, I would hope that this project will create a discourse
and be influential on artists, scenes and communities at the level of
the base structure. A growing influence on discussions inside artists'
communities, and in their often cheaply made (underground)-organs, would
be of more value than a fashionable burn-out in the mainstream publications.
In general, evaluation has to be seen in the long term.
Finally, the different steps and stages of the experimental set-up should
be well documented. I am thinking of photography, video and a collection
of texts, scripts and promotional material/ articles. The documentation
should also follow the changes in the contexts and the publics that the
work is aimed at.
What could be the new horizons
for this project?
I have written about the relatively
recent changes in conditions that global capitalism has caused within
the arts, the cultural sector and in the idea of a public sphere. Whilst
this newness clearly requires research, there is no guarantee that the
research can be important or effective simply because the subject area
can also be called new.
One of this research project's first issues is to survey these effects
on the cultural field from the artists' point of view and then attempt
a compilation of this artists' overview. To my knowledge, this is a fresh
approach to this rapidly changing area.
Moreover, this overview will be presented within the Norwegian context
, where it will be used to try and stimulate a debate around the changes
connected to the developing corporate publics. In this instance, investigating
the question of status will create something new: a debate, and eventually,
a community around this debate. Hopefully, this will contribute to changing
attitudes and relations towards the various art publics.
No research can promise innovation,
and my projects are no different in this regard. But I can from the outset
consider what might be triggered through the different phases, or through
different aspects, of the research project.
Expectations and questions.
What, for example, could be anticipated under the aspect of 'growing communities'
around the different stages of this project? Where might the discussion
of 'the art work of the future' lead us? To a point where we could definitely
say what it is? What help can this be towards an artistic strategy within
a corporate public? What help can it be within an interdisciplinary debate,
or a debate about artistic research and methodologies?
Reflection of the fine arts
Theatrical strategies in the fine arts are not in themselves new. There
are various collaborations and cross-border activities throughout the
history of fine art and theatre which lead to the new genre 'performance'.
To contribute to the historical development of this genre is of minor
importance for my proposals.
But it is important that, through this research project, the introduction
of 'theatre' into the fine arts context can lead to a new possibility
for reflection upon the fine arts context itself. You could compare this
idea of theatre with a switch in the brain, that, when flipped, switches
on recognition of one's own role in this stage play and, hopefully, to
the rules of this game in general.
Theatre equals artistic research.
So theatre becomes the main device in this research; it becomes almost
synonymous with the artistic research because it enables us to cast (throw)
a reserved and critical view onto our objective. On top of this, it can
even assist us to catch sight of the action of this view being cast .
As with all the arts we will
not deny an entertaining effect, but use it.
to an 'Academy That Grows From Bottoms
Back to the fields.
I hope that my project can clarify how much the Kunsthogskolen's research
would relate to the above mentioned categories, i.e. to the academy's
relation to the public, to the artist and to the work of art. Clearly,
the latter stands in the centre of our efforts, but is wrapped and determined
by the two other concerns of our educative efforts: the roles of the artist
and the public sphere. Our research can focus on, or nest inside one of
these areas, but they are definitively all connected, and under the roof
of this Kunstakademi as much as outside of it.
To conclude , I would like to return to some ideas on art and the academy
that have a bearing, not only as far as my research is concerned but which
are also pertinent to a daily teaching situation.
Learning by sitting in the
The idea that 'art' and 'artist' are notions which can always be changed
or extended leads straight back to the question of whether we can learn
how to break away from patterns that we already know.
We do not learn from each other as a result of one of us being stupid
and the other one being smart. That would establish a hierarchy simply
through the flow of information. Rather, we learn from each other because
we are joined together in a position of powerlessness, with different
areas of knowledge to exchange. This is a process of self-empowerment,
or self-assertion, which can not be taught from a position of power (e.g.
from a Professor), but which can be supported from a position of power
(e.g. a Professor).
Inside a power structure.
Structures or meshworks
cannot be achieved by top-to-bottom management, they have to grow from
the roots; from the desire of the base structure (to use a Marxist term).
That is why students have to try and 'make academy' themselves, probably
within the formations of groups of people who may have similar problems
but different knowledge. The exchanges that result are definitive for
production within the academy.
However academies are never just self-sufficient islands. They are always
situated in relation to power - and then the questions become: in which
configuration of power does this new-found freedom place itself? To which
purposes can it be used? What difference to the ruling aesthetics and
politics does it make?
Allies to seek.
That is why the academy needs to be a synapse or an interface to the public
- as a laboratory for artistic research, a platform where the different
threads can come together, a stage for teaching, a studio for the making
of objects, the 'mise en scene' for a theatre that we call 'the making
of a public'.
But of course, what always matters
the most is how we act, what the play is about, and, naturally, that the
whole thing never gets too boring!
The French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari use a structural image for
the organisation of growth, the 'rhizome' (growing like ginger or potatoes),
for a chaotic and wild thinking (in computer terms 'fuzzy' logic) as opposed
to the logical 'tree-thinking', which follows hierarchical yes/no ramifications.
Compare to the old ideas of a 'Gelehrtenrepublik' as a state run by intellectuals.
See: Karl Gutzkow 'Die Ritter vom Geiste' or Arno Schmidt 'Die Gelehrten
Nikolaus Pevsner, 'Die Geschichte der Kunstakademien', page 23, ISBN 3-88219-285-2
knowledge and art
One can easily see the capitalisation of communities in the internet,
where value of shares is equivalent to number of members/users. In January
2000, Microsoft paid $400 to everyone who subscribed to its own News-
and Internet Provider MSN for a minimum period of 2 years.
Stephan Dillemuth Hg. / ISBN 3-931184-00-5 / Köln 1995.
Nikolaus Pevsner, 'Die Geschichte der Kunstakademien' ISBN 3-88219-285-2,
Currently in translation for imminent publication in English. Published
in German ISBN 3-931184-04-8, Permanent Press Verlag, Köln/ Berlin
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii, lines 140-141.
Slavoy Zizek, Looking Awry, MIT Press, 1991, ISBN 0-262-74015-x , page
This used to mean a community which is constituted through discussion.
This question could be linked to research in art history. Are paintings
stages? Are sculptures stage props?
See Meshworks, Manuel de Landa, 1997, publisher Benteli Verlag, Wabern,
NOTE: This text was
written as a proposal for a research project by Prof Stephan Dillemuth
for Kunsthogskolen i Bergen, dept Kunstakademiet in the year 1999. The
text was published as a grey publication for Kunsthogskolen i Bergen ISBN
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