Sunday, September 2, 2012

OuUnPo Japan

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the "state of emergency" in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. --Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (257)

Field of Research
The human condition is marked by continuous threats that are inscribed into a historical context. The Fukushima accident in Japan shows that our (near) future will be filled with challenges that need to be faced with an alternative thinking. We need variety and multiplicity. OuUnPo has over the last years approached issues of artistic, political and economical urgency in Serbia, Portugal and Greece. On the wake of globalization we decide to look at how heritage and crises are linked together in non-European contexts, and specifically in Japan, to offer a broader and deeper knowledge based around how the two interact. The research will be carried out through a 10-days event in Tokyo and a later workshop at the ZKM in Karlsruhe in two interconnected fields:

1. Catastrophe and Creation. OuUnPo will look at how a threat, a catastrophe or a situation of crises can offer opportunity for creation. The group will look into the potential of new thought and new ideas from a situation that at first glance appears to be negative.

2. Heritage. The activities in Japan will provide new insights on the tensions between stasis and flux in situations marked by natural and human disasters. The questions addressed are how to move forward, using the experiences of the past that can help and to aid the collective memory to stay awake

Work methods -->The research on catastrophe and heritage unfolds several possible models for Europe and potential crisis-resolution. The European urban and cultural tissue is in fact woven with an old and preserved heritage that demands new interpretations and manage situations of crisis. In this respect we will look at different models of preservation and development, which don’t rest on an a-critical and a-temporal conservation.

Asian culture indicates a path for handing on artistic, architectural and invisible heritage, which includes the dialectic moment of destruction and contemplates temporary variations. Particularly the post-war condition in Japan and the Fukushima nuclear accident will offer to all the participants a seminal set of problems, open questions and possible answers to reflect on.
We hope that the exchange of narrations and practices both in Tokyo and in Karlsruhe can facilitate a mutual learning on such topics, which doesn’t follow superficial imitation or financial interests but rather represents a moment of „crisis“ that generates new understandings and creations.

Finally the encounter between the European informal network OuUnPo, the state funded institution ZKM and the alternative art scene in Japan will speed up the reflection on the diversity of typologies that together shape the hybrid notion of “art organization” in the global world.

Planned Outcomes
Being an external organism that penetrates the city's body through its veins and with particular attention to vital organs like spots of collective gatherings or symbolic and historical architectures, OuUnPo seeks first of all a vivid interaction with the inhabitants of Tokyo and to provoke a different outlook on the city’s recent history and patrimony. Proposing a series of interventions in cultural institutions such as museums, music venues, universities and public space, OuUnPo will contribute to activating new perspectives on those spaces. By subtle and ephemeral performances and actions by the group's members and by invited local guests, OuUnPo will start a dialogue with local cultural agents on new forms of cultural management which address OuUnPo's basic principles of self-organization horizontality

In each working session OuUnpo collaborates with a number of local institutions. These are usually in a situation of competition in their everyday practice, but by bringing in a variety of outside players who collaborate with local institutions, OnUnPo collapses the local with global. The strategy allows the partners of the project to get a deeper understanding of how the local and global interacts and how the art world is dealing with the current changes. OuUnPo has therefore teamed up with GAM/ZKM in order to get a deeper critical and academic and understanding of the working methods developed by the group and their potential to be used by other institutions.

In 2012-13, OuUnPo will arrange four meetings in Lebanon, Japan, Sweden and Brazil in collaboration with ZKM in Karlsruhe and will lead to the creation of an exstensive catalogue that documents the research process. The publication will offer deep insights into how globalisation affects the artistic process, offering invaluable insights into contemporary art’s potential on a global scale to develop visionary thinking, new understanding across borders, and new solutions to existing problems related to natural disasters. In conjunction with the publication of the catalogue a series of academic seminars will be carried out in Italy, Sweden and Germany.

The London-based design group Åbäke and Swedish designer/illustrator Marcus Pettersson who have already carried investigation into catastrophy and temporary architecture in Tokyo are specially invited for the event. We are also looking forward to collaborate with inspiring people and groups like The Mori Art Museum, Neko Lobby, The Boat People and Creative Hub 131 to mention a few. Negotiations with more collaborative partners are under way. So keep your eyes peeled for further updates.