A Romance with Revolution

Arts Management

23rd Studioprogram of ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar

Selected artists: Mona Aghababaee & Hawreh Danesh (Iran), Nina Galić (Serbia), Karl Heinz Jeron (Germany)

Jury: Inke Arns (Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund), Claudia Löffelholz (curator and co-founder LaRete Art Projects), Anastasia Patsey (Museum of nonconformist art, St. Petersburg), Christoph Tannert (Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin), Ursula Seeger (city of Weimar)

Peace activist Emma Goldman proclaimed, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution”. The convergence and contact between art and revolution, the time they have spent together have never been a waste. They did each other infinite good, felt attracted to each other, never quite sure – a fling, nothing serious. Why are we fascinated by art and revolution? Is it the dissolution of tradition, spontaneous action, accelerated accomplishment, free expression, new hope, uncertain outcomes?

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Great Socialist October Revolution” in Russia. An anniversary that, as is the way with such things, will be commemorated. The “greatest act of liberation in human history” changed the world, shaped the fate of countless millions. Its subsequent development, the USSR, disintegrated in 1991. In 2003, a new era of revolution dawned – from the Rose, Orange, Cedar, Tulip, Saffron and Jasmine Revolutions to the Arab Spring (2010-), the Arabellion.

The Studio Program is looking for the legacies, lessons and consequences of epochal events, for their aftershocks, for the appreciable effects and the form of revolutionary energies and ideas from previous upheavals in the present, for what remains: How have cultures, methods and myths, such as susceptibility to manipulation, mediatization and the acceleration of political violence transformed in the 21st century, into the terrorist organization Daesh? And where do revolutions fail? Do we fear the “fitful catching-up of hindered development” (Marx) – whether failed or successful – with its momentum, which often cannot be controlled by either revolutionaries, the “masses” or elites, or do we long for it?

Surely the fascination with turmoil and rebellion, upheaval and overthrow, revolt and revolution lies in that we can view them as only too natural, understandable, human or just when social uneasiness and resentment spread, when groups of people live for long periods of time with the certainty that there is no hope of improvement – dominated, oppressed, unfairly treated. But the difficult transformations and the associated willingness to sacrifice the individual that a radical change entails distress us.

Can humanity learn from earlier upheavals? Can an evolutionary theory of revolution be written? Does the Wende, the bloodless Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in East Germany, show us that change can be non-violent and leaderless? How securely anchored are Lenin’s “mass shootings are a legitimate means of revolution” or Ataturk’s “a revolution that’s not based on blood will never be” in the revolutions of the present day?

Do we still believe in art as a civilizing force? Does the avant-garde still go hand-in-hand with policy makers, whether in the Ukraine, Lebanon, Tunisia or Egypt? Can art change society? Revolutionize politics?

According to the revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai, the vision of the October Revolution, of Communism, is a society whose bindings are of such tenderness that she no longer needed to escape into marriage – a romance.

The International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar was founded in 1994 and is open to artist worldwide and without age restriction. The City of Weimar pursues the following aims in its role as an initiator and partner of the International Studio Program: To combine financial support for artists with the presentation of contemporary art in the urban realm, to serve as a forum for artists and as a catalyst for encounter between them and to gain international recognition for the resulting activities. By these means, international cultural exchange is to be promoted and prejudices eliminated. The support provided includes the provision of a combination artist’s studio/apartment in the Municipal Studio Building – one of the oldest buildings of its kind in Germany – and by financing the monthly stipend of 1000€.