Kunstjournalen B-post 2008
Art as Notions of the Impossible Made Possible?
The point of departure for this issue of Kunstjournalen B-post is an idiom; imagine the impossible made possible. This expression led to a set of questions which were sent to selected artist and theoreticians. One of the questions we asked was to what extent central aspects of today’s artworks articulate themselves in the tensions between the visionary as utopia and the visionary as dystopia. We also asked if the expression can be perceived as arts’ job description.
In a world tailored to inducing anxiety for the future and uncertainty about our common judgment, a world where public values are disseminated and entrusted to the private sphere and where it appears that the ruthless win, it is easy to present a dystopic perspective as both irrefutable and unavoidable.
Parallel to strategies exploring negation, we also find art entering social and political spheres of action through direct criticism and proposals for alternative solutions. It look as if large portions of the art world have embraced the challenge by opening fissures in the naturalized order and giving us a glimpse of “something else” behind as a realizable alternative; in other words articulating hope.
The contributions which follow constitute a spectrum of experience, claims and reflections in pictures and words. The difference between them lies in individual approaches and methods, but is also in the fact that they are projects in different phases of realization. Some of the invited contributors were encouraged to develop an artistic contribution especially for Kunstjournalen B-post, others were encouraged to present an existing work, others again were asked to write. The contributions which came did not always follow these divisions. In relation to exploring notions of the (im)possible, clear divisions between backgrounds, documentation, theoretical reflections, presentations, utopian plans and artwork are not always so clearly delineated.
The possible is the realistic, visible and graspable. It is what there is and what means something. It is what one has to choose between: the area of the everyday, the routine and the political. The impossible – the not-possible – does not exist at the behest of the possible, or; it represents the possible’s (im)possible transgression; the possibility that tomorrow has other possibilities than today.
The possible, it turns out, occasionally reaches beyond what we can imagine.
As we write, the world is experiencing a “slow motion financial crash” where modes of thinking underlying the crash are collapsing. Dagens Næringsliv (a Norwegian newspaper similar to Financial Times) claims in a commentary on October 11th 2008 that “the unthinkable can happen” and that in reality the actual risk for collapse is beyond theoretical elucidation.
“The impossible made possible” has the feel of a paradox beyond imagination. However if the possible and the impossible are considered relative to time and place, this expression points to a continuing exchange between imagination and reality. With this the expression touches the depths of the human condition.
For the arts this can indicate a focus on the heterogeneous, the manifold, the unclear as well as the ambivalent – both in production and reception. The challenge is to remain open – for insignificant as well as nearly trivial alternatives.
Or to ask a new question: How does it look, the foggy landscape just outside of that which we consider possible, where experience and hypotheses collide? And what remains after the collision?
Sissel Lillebostad og Arne Rygg
(English translation: Deirdre Smith)
The content of this issue has not been translated. Click the flag above to the right to browse the Norwegian version.