Anna Koch – in any case still lucky

We live in dark times. One needs to keep the head up in order to continue. There is too much going on in the world and it is easy to let the dystopian rule. So even more now through art we need to come together and infuse strength. We have to have self-reliance to act. We are in any case still lucky.

In the art scene at the moment there is something in the air, a few proposals, signs, that propose a difference on how, where and whom we affiliate ourselves with. It suggests acting more local, to open up to our neighbours, to maybe stitch a path from one suburb to another, from an institution to a small-scale hub, from a storefront to a sausage stand, from one human to another, to expand territories.  We really need to, in order to save us from numbness. We need to be out there, finding ways of making the art we are doing visible. Let it land somewhere unexpected. Letting that experience bringing us fourth.

In the time of digitalization, the transmission of a live meeting, the live body and experience of time that one cannot scroll through should be defended. Embodied cognition raises the ability for the beholder to project oneself as an agent of action, art as an empowering tool.

As for the artists, still in precarious work and living situations, the entrepreneurship of art making, mirrors the economy led structures we all are a part of. Can we organize ourselves softly to further our own conditions? Can we imagine?  What discursive or practical context would we like to engage with?  If there were no limits, what would we do? With limits what do we do? How do we relate to the socially burning topics, but also of environmental matters, will artists stop touring?

For artists to develop we need a space to feel connected to, a room to work in, and we need trust. We need to feel it is okay to try something out without knowing the result, to dare to fail, or to change expressions and practices not to format us into machines.  We need to be able to rest with one idea or research for a long time without having to fit into standard formats. Wild at heart but not spectacular, that which drives, and intensifies our interest into new concepts of realisation. We also need our colleagues. The local scene in Stockholm has grown into something beautiful and valuable and it should be taken care of.

We are taking for granted that art and its profession can exist, that it is included in our culture. We are still lucky we have not yet gotten broken and down prioritized; there is still support. One day it might be different. One day, we are perhaps asked to fully support ourselves. But today we have our support to introduce, develop, create, nurture and embrace the act of making and sharing art.

When I got the question. ”Is there anything your organisation (Weld) cannot do, that limits you?” The answer is; there are really no limits in what a small-scale artist run organisation can do (a steady financed one that is) especially if it considers itself as an art-project, always in process, wide eyes and ears open. Welds content and universe are the artists and their wishes and needs, together with our own initiatives.

The limits we do have are specific structures and developed formats within the field itself, often related to co-productions, networks and schedules and how to handle the amount of productions and researches in need of space.  To be able to set aside time for post reflection, to contemplate the type of knowledge produced, how things are connected and the traces things leave behind are important and necessary to follow up on, in order to continue.

A small-scale organisation can act fast, from one day to the other, redistribute power and economy, help artists to get a legal status, help them establish in a professional context, name someone important to make them important, (micro-politics) we can also pay fees and give respect, not only say, we give you resources, our name, our context, coolness, but no actual money. We can do queer instead of using it as a representative term. We can empower ourselves and we can empower each other, we can bring ideas further and be compasses or extensions to universities and institutions, we can even create schools. If there is money we do it, if there is less money, we do it anyway.

In order for the smaller organisation to reach an audience other than expected one needs to find strategies. Many are doing it well. We invent collaborations and we knock on institutional doors. They gladly host us in order to get something fresh. For artist though, sometimes it is not so easy to move into other cultural contexts.  Why do we so often have to be recognised by each other, to feel safe? Why is art in one cultural layer considered strange and whose responsibility is it to “unstrangefy”?

To remember; art is not only for the privileged. Art could happen everywhere.  It can surprise an untrained eye; it can challenge an unfamiliar setting. It can point out a topographical relation, a coordination to be explored. It can unite. Art is for everyone that is curious. To be curious you need to be mentored. Not all are born curious. One or the other might need some help to activate curiosity.  This is the art that I and my colleagues and audiences relate to. This is not the art that the National Democrats relate to. They do not relate to Art. They do not relate at all.

As to repeat, we need to be out there, we need to share values. The subtle, sensitive notion of art has to infiltrate, question, heal and bring us closer. In End Fest, we can be walking in-between the different venues, trying to meet someone we do not know, on the way, to bring along, someone not already initiated. Can we open up for this?

The future is not dark, the future is bright. The universe will put everything in order. Can we at least pretend in order to continue?

Anna Koch March 2017

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