The Art of Simulation

Arts Management

22nd Studioprogram of ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar

Selected artists: Nancy Mteki (Zimbabwe), Rheim Alkadhi (Iraq), Lodewijk Heylen (Belgium)

Jury: Kristina Leko (Universität der Künste Berlin), Shaheen Merali (curator & author), Carina Plath (curator & art historian, Sprengel Museum), Zafos Xagoraris (artist)

Simulation exists in every place, in every time, and in the Media Age more than ever ‒ in European politics, under Putin, on the History Channel. What is real? Unquestionably it is the desire for the unreal. Which lie? That which is merely accessible ‒ the exact replica of the cave paintings of Lascaux, “Lascaux 2”? Ski Dubai, Tropical Islands or the rebuilt Berlin City Palace? The history of humankind is also a history of the attempt to preserve, consolidate and recreate the special, the atmospheric, the overwhelming, the unbelievable, the nostalgic, the filled-with-longing (moment, event, artwork or building). To bring back, to understand, even to copy a situation or configuration calls to our innermost drive for repetition or, better still, ceaseless perpetuation of positive experiences. Salvation and happiness may give way to finding, inventing or verifying our identity.

The art of simulation, imitation or sham, of re-creation or disguise, of doing-as-if gives courage and comfort to endure life beyond simulation, whitewashing, facade, theatre, play, the security of the holy (parallel) world and earthly-heavenly states ‒ in other words, normal daily life. Simulation is a cultural practice by which one better gets through difficult situations in life, a survival stratagem, as well as a method of and instrument for gaining knowledge. We simulate what we miss, what once was (familiar) ‒ familiarity that is so often lost to us in our immediate environment ‒ in order to feel secure in that which is. Additionally, simulation lets us become self-empowered creators again, whether in the simulated city center, the Window of the World replica park in Shenzhen or an artificial holiday paradise, whether in the Dresden Frauenkirche, with the D-Day re-enactment or LARP games. We would like to be able to hold onto the recollections in the way we want them.

For these reasons, however, authenticity, touch, contact (which, for example, another person had to an object before us) and the faith in it are essential. Simulation does not deliver this, rather only the resemblance, and virtuality does not deliver essence and emotions, rather only analogy in being, functionality and impact. Contact, feeling, touch must therefore ‒ following the logic of the narrative ‒ be made artificial. How far can this go? Where are the limits? What role does art play in this, which has gone hand in hand with simulation, even before the formation of the Hollywood dream factory?

We easily accept the loss of authenticity and its substitution through simulation. The explanatory power of the fake often outstrips even that of the original, whose value is increased by the copy and can be discovered more closely, for longer, in more detail and with more relish. Deception and illusion are familiar to us; we enjoy them; we want to be deceived (only the unrecognized forgery remains unadmired). We want to search for, find and leave tracks, to tell our (hi)stories ‒ always biased and creative (poetry and truth) ‒ to establish values and traditions, to which omission, counterfeiting, suppression, repurposing, concealing, interpretation, piecing together and misrepresentation are not foreign.

In the city of Weimar, German and European history ‒ partly put on a pedestal and played out on a stage ‒ intensify and solidify themselves in a magnitude seldom seen. Symbolically-loaded sites stand for the horror which people can inflict and for the highest forms of art, music and poetry through which people are edified and amused ‒ all only a stone’s throw removed from each other. In Weimar, a place of its construction and staging, history is told daily anew and differently.The studio program would like to be an inspiration for artists, to present possibilities, strategies and limits of simulation as well as its risks and side effects. Which relationship one has to simulation, to mimicry and mimesis, to imitation and illusion, to “phony” and “real” is certainly a question of perspective and origin: in western culture, the concept has rather negative connotations, but in China, temples destroyed by fire are always rebuilt exactly as they were before. It is also a question of how simulation relates to imitation and the exciting neighborhood in which it lives next to creativity.

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€.