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Shutting up? Acting in times of noisy rethorics

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 7pm

Sometimes things get loud—whether that’s in your own family, at a rock concert, or in politics. Shouting sentences, or even screaming furiously, can be healthy. Too much of this, however, poisons the social climate and does not help, for our ears can easily miss something much quieter, yet with incomparably more power than any noisy rhetoric: action.

Fabien Rigobert, Logis Castille, 2008–2010, Amiens, France

© Les Nouveaux Commanditaires

When something is done without making grand statements, it can be powerful. The normative power of the factual has become proverbial, and in a time of great uncertainty, creating facts is surely a good idea. For communities, action offers a further assurance: from the sports club to the village festival to demonstrations on Fridays—doing something together makes a difference.

Artists understand this well. Art can end up being very discursive, but its real point is to do something. There is also something about artistic action that makes it different from riding a bike or drying your hair, because if all goes well, it results in things that you could have scarcely imagined beforehand, let alone put into words.

Something that would be catastrophic when building a highway is actually what makes art really good: you don’t know what will come out at the other end—but once it’s there, you’re convinced. And then it also becomes possible to find the right words for what has actually been done here and why and how it works.

So this evening is supposed to be about action. And about how it can transform communities. If something cannot be said, then perhaps it needs to be acted upon instead. When you are looking for the unexpected, sometimes you have to do something instead of just planning it. This is how things can change, even when everything seems to have already been said; while loudmouths are busy vying to be heard, the ground is being dug up around them.

Alexander Koch (Neue Auftraggeber, KOW) in conversation with:
Alice Creischer (artist, author)
Dorothea von Hantelmann (art historian, curator)
Maria Kleinschmidt (activist, Extinction Rebellion)
Zoë Claire Miller (artist, speaker bbk berlin, co-founder Berlin Art Prize)

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