On occasion of the opening of the OSTRALE Biennale O19
on 03.07.2019 in the Historische Tabakfabrik f6, Striesen-Dresden
Photo © Peter Fischer
As you know, we live in highly complex times, not to say difficult: growing potentials for violence and destruction of individuals, groups or states, newly emerging nationalisms – even in the arts (see Tellkamp or Neo Rauch) – growing anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism, racism and xenophobia are only some of the burning contemporary problems that are represented in Dresden, for example by the Pegida movement.
Debates such as on gender and MeToo – while legitimate and necessary at their core – lead to new forms of repressive morality and political correctness, which leads to isms, sanctions and rigidities and to anticipatory obedience.
Meanwhile, the development of the capital markets, the constant maximization of profits, a belief in growth and progress that has long been absurd, continues unabated. I could continue this series. I think you all know what I am talking about.
The ideal landscape of Arcadia, which I represent as an ambassador, is linked to different ideals. Virgil's pastoral poems are connected with the ideal of a peaceful world in which people may live idly in love and harmony, without alienated work, without social pressure to adapt, without war, free from civilizing constraints, in peace, with love in the sense of social coexistence, with a life beyond social constraints.
Obsession with work, which is only necessary for the spiral of profit maximization to continue to function, is countered by idleness. In other words: free and self-determined action in the sense of Kant.
Arcadia is associated with dignity and respect towards other people.
But the principle of rivalry, which is obviously deeply rooted in us humans, leads to ever worse conditions. It's about power and constantly rising profits. The world becomes more and more inhospitable. Many people fall by the wayside.
In Arcadia all people are equal. There is no division between rich and poor. Money does not matter.
As Arcadian ambassador, I therefore call upon you to intervene. A spiritual revolt is urgently needed! We must reconsider our current economy, question it and not constantly subordinate ourselves to it. Permanent growth cannot remain an irrevocable creed! The world of commodities which is compulsively kept alive by the economic system generates only competitions and fears, which in turn lead to social constraints, to stress factors in everyday life, which in addition becomes more and more unstable on all levels – economically as well as psychologically. There are also economic aspects that lead to violence and war, because the principle of the stronger is inherent in capitalism. We must reconsider hierarchy and social systems, basic security, false privatisations, the responsibilities of the community.
Art and science can only be understood Arcadically, as free experimental fields and laboratories. It is the task of the arts native to Arcadia to bring interventions, sabotages, question marks and prickles into the world.
It's time to shake it up. I therefore call for collective idleness! – and I repeat myself: to a spiritual revolt!
Just do nothing, resist, be lazy and idle!
It is our common task to reshape the world.
(Delivered by performance artist Peter Kees, whose work "Arkadische Landnahmen"
can be seen at the OSTRALE Biennale O19 exhibition.)