Almissa

21. – 26. 08. 2020.

2020

emergency

Emer­gency is an imposed form of time, but also a call to aware­ness. In a state of emer­gency there is a feel­ing that we are out of time, that there is no time or delay. At the same time, para­dox­ic­ally, the per­cep­tion of time is expan­ded and splintered into its tini­est parts, nano­seconds that become a fractal infin­ity. The interi­or of the time machine is open wide, and at any rate, it stopped being mech­an­ic­al a long time ago, the sym­bol­ic copy of uni­ver­sal rota­tion, but is instead its elec­tron­ic trans­la­tion into a line com­posed of zeros and ones.

Emer­gency is, there­fore, not only related to the speed of reac­tion, but also to changes in the per­cep­tion of time. Even though we can pre­pare for it in advance, plan and devel­op pro­ced­ures, the exper­i­ence of such reac­tions points to the space of syn­chron­icity, coin­cid­ence or loss of con­trol, will or apathy. Adren­aline instantly increases strength, per­cep­tion and intu­ition. As we extin­guish the fire, anoth­er space opens up with­in us, the power of human­ity, com­munity, empathy. Sud­denly we know that we are not alone.

I pro­posed the theme of this year’s Almissa Open Art Fest­iv­al as early as last year. In the mean­time, the imper­at­ive of emer­gency caught up with us, almost over­took us, and its pres­ence in our every­day life became obvi­ous. The state of emer­gency and urgency have always been a part of con­tem­por­an­eity, as W. Ben­jamin writes in 1940, in his eighth Thes­is on the Philo­sophy of His­tory: “The tra­di­tion of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emer­gency’ in which we live is not an excep­tion but the rule.” The state of emer­gency that is now only con­cealed with the urgency of the pan­dem­ic. The inten­tion of this year’s Almissa is to por­tray this glob­ally imposed concept, its implic­a­tions in con­tem­por­an­eity and in our lives, as well as the uncer­tainty as a lever for strategies of polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic manip­u­la­tion.

The exper­i­ment of isol­a­tion and the exper­i­ence of extern­al silence, facil­it­ated focus­ing of atten­tion to intern­al spaces of dur­a­tion. At the same time, an accel­er­a­tion and an unstop­pable pen­et­ra­tion of the extern­al happened through vir­tu­al win­dows. Now, even more than before, while being vir­tu­ally con­nec­ted and phys­ic­ally dis­tant, there are new levels of pub­lic encroach­ment into private space. Dif­fer­ent rhythms and per­cep­tions of time, oppos­ite and con­flict­ing tem­por­al­it­ies became a deep per­son­al exper­i­ence: slow­ing down, accel­er­at­ing, wait­ing for res­ults, time of ill­ness and uncer­tainty, exhaus­tion, inab­il­ity to pro­ject the future.

More than ever before, the emer­gency of oth­ers has also become ours, clearly demon­strat­ing the inter­con­nec­ted­ness of everything on our only plan­et. It is as if this chiaroscuro scen­ario illu­min­ated and accen­ted the shad­ows of dust accu­mu­lated under the car­pet.
We have long been wit­ness­ing the break­down of tis­sue on all levels. The health crisis has already been well-primed by the eco­lo­gic­al crisis and cli­mate change, as well as the exploit­a­tion of nat­ur­al resources, includ­ing those human. Even though the halt­ing of activ­it­ies moment­ar­ily froze the pic­ture of the down­turn, it is very likely that this virus is also the con­sequence of dis­turbed eco­lo­gic­al sys­tems in the Anthro­po­cene era. For a moment, the invis­ible virus stopped the machinery, and brought con­nectiv­ity, fra­gil­ity, as well as the eman­cip­at­ory power of vul­ner­ab­il­ity to the fore. But it also threw inequal­ity into pain­fully stark relief.

Symp­toms of the chron­ic model of the neo­lib­er­al cap­it­al­ist dis­ease became more vis­ible: grow­ing poverty and inequal­ity; the dys­func­tion­al busi­ness model of health­care; racism and xeno­pho­bia; viol­ence against the most vul­ner­able – such as women, the eld­erly, refugees and migrants; the rise of nation­al­ism and pop­u­lism, per­fi­di­ous forms of colo­ni­al­ism, tour­ism – aut­ism of the world, the gentri­fic­a­tion of cit­ies that is swal­low­ing pub­lic spaces and com­munit­ies.

The future could become a ter­ri­fy­ing dysto­pia with deep socio-eco­nom­ic prob­lems, the threat of techno(logical)-totalitarianism that relies on already estab­lished dynam­ics of con­trol and the abol­i­tion of free­dom. We find ourselves neck-deep, it has long been too late for any­thing, but it is also too late to give up. Do we have a plan for yes­ter­day? How can we pre­pare the ter­rain (even if it is only one square metre in size) without allow­ing for the return of the old tomor­row?

Almissa Open Art is head­ing into its 11th edi­tion, that we renamed as the num­ber of the emer­gency ser­vices 112, in order to emphas­ize two things – dis­sect­ing the concept of emer­gency, but also the abil­ity of art to dia­gnose and ini­ti­ate pro­cesses in the pulsat­ing present. Jean-Marie Gust­ave Le Clézio anti­cip­ates that “one day, per­haps, we will find out there was no art, but only medi­cine.”
Through inter­ven­tions, actions, per­form­ances and pro­jec­tions, as well as other hybrid forms, we will address the pub­lic, acci­dent­al pass­ers-by in the town of Omiš, speak loudly and whis­per about the dys­func­tion of the world, try to find new dir­ec­tions of move­ment, and chal­lenge the exist­ing struc­tures. To relate artist­ic prac­tices of dir­ect action in pub­lic space and the poet­ic push­ing of lim­its of time, the neces­sary, futile, insane, the somer­sault that could change the order, alter the sys­tem that is col­lapsing on con­crete and invis­ible levels, col­lect­ively, indi­vidu­ally and sub­cu­taneously.

This year’s Almissa will call for the recap­tur­ing of per­son­al space, but also the com­mon pub­lic urban space, point­ing to care as a form of res­ist­ance and solid­ar­ity as a neces­sary pre­con­di­tion for com­munity devel­op­ment. It will cau­tion against the nar­row­ing of per­son­al freedoms, tem­por­al­ity as per­man­ence, the unre­li­ab­il­ity of sup­port and the cer­tainty of an ava­lanche as a meta­phor for the times we live in.

I am con­vinced that art as the field of sens­ib­il­ity and solid­ar­ity can con­trib­ute to the cul­ture of ten­der­ness and strength­en­ing the bonds that hold us togeth­er. To the feel­ing of com­munity, “a new sens­ory fab­ric in which pro­sa­ic activ­it­ies acquire poet­ic dimen­sion through which they cre­ate a com­mon world”, which Ran­cière calls “redis­tri­bu­tion of the sens­ory”.

In the time of emer­gency, it seems even more import­ant, as Ran­cière says, that the ques­tion of the rela­tion­ship between aes­thet­ics and polit­ics be raised at this level, the level of the sens­ible delim­it­a­tion of what is com­mon to the com­munity, the forms of its vis­ib­il­ity and of its organ­iz­a­tion. Per­haps pre­cisely in the time when emer­gency is over­rid­ing con­tem­por­an­eity, it will be pos­sible to anti­cip­ate the new fab­ric of com­munity?

Neli Ružić, cur­at­or

1—Benjamin, Wal­ter, Eseji, Nolit Beo­grad, 1974, p.83
2—“Jednog dana ćemo možda saznati da nije posto­jala umjet­nost, već samo medi­cina.”, Le Clézio, Jean-Marie Gust­ave u Deleuze & Guat­tary, Što je filo­zofija?, San­dorf & Miz­an­trop, Zagreb, 2017. p. 134.
3—Rancier, Jacques. Politike vremena, Novi osvrt na mod­ernost, Sveska br. 6, mjesto izdavanja i god­ina p.7
4—Rancière, Jacques, 2004, The Polit­ics of Aes­thet­ics, Dis­tri­bu­tion of the sens­ible, Lon­don, New York, Con­tinuum Inter­na­tion­al Pub­lish­ing group. p. 18

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