Starting the research for an exhibition is always difficult; especially if the exhibitions is part of a five year project with a name that is so enormous it feels like a whale: ‘The Uses of Art – on the legacy of 1848 and 1989″. It feels like diving into very deep and very rough water without a life vest, but here goes. And to be honest, we already started, as one always starts thinking about an exhibition not on a well-defined date, but somewhere in the middle of the night in a bar, or drinking your morning coffee, reading a newspaper, or just talking with a colleague.
This particular exhibition dealing with 1848 and 1989 is a typical variant of such an organic process. It isn’t even based on the thinking of one curator, but is more the organic growing together of several people of even various organisations, most notably Grizedale Arts and the Van Abbemuseum, later brought into the current L’Internationale project on the The Uses of Art. The tile of the exhibition is “New Republics – 1848 – 1989 – today” and it is one of the most complex, essay-like exhibitions we conceived, but also one of the most exciting ones. What it aspires to do is offer a wide-angle reflection on the formation of the modern world and the role art and aesthetics have had within it. The reason to ask such a big question is informed by an awareness that the current, systemic change in world economy, politics and culture affects the entire fabric of modern society. This is the reason not start for instance in 1945 at the horrible tabula rasa, but to go back to that iconic year in the 19th century – 1848 – which marks the moment when the French Revolution went European and all over the continent you had different uprisings and reforms (the introduction of the new Dutch constitution being one of them) that aimed to dramatically reshape the way in which people – as citizens – participated in society.
But as enchanting this awareness might be, addressing such a complex transformation in an exhibition remains en enormously challenging task. To deal with this challenge we have thought to take a rather different approach then we normally do and open up our thinking and research via this blog and our other social media channels. Hopefully also attracting some interesting reflections from outside. In this sense it will be our first public research done within the framework of L’Internationale’s ‘The Uses of Art”-project and will use the new hastag #UOAresearch.
So come join us, as observer or discussion partner, and let’s see what kind of exhibition we will end up with.