Monday, 7 December 2009
Guest Post from Oleg Koefoed, Culture Futures
Mannequin in Danish Design showcase before completion of display...
Here are some words from the launch of Culture Futures, that you may want to put in your blog:
Today, about 150 persons have made their way to Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish National Art Gallery, for the launch symposium of Culture Futures. This symposium is the kick-off of a project that has been put together by a lot of different organisations within culture mainly, but also some other actors such as the city development company, Arup.
All morning, the team around the event, to which I belong as the representative of our small organisation, Cultura21 Nordic, part of a larger one, Cultura21 International, have been rather calmly getting the last details in place in order to host this event. The day today is, in many ways, a day of thanking partners and paying respect, which in itself is of course an action oriented towards the past. But at the same time, there are elements pointing towards those futures which the title of the project addresses.
The director of the cultural sector of ASEF, Dominique Guichard, spoke today of the ability of artists to "deceonstruct and reconstruct reality", and thus to be able to see the future and give indications as to how we might turn towards it and head into real change. The Malysian poet Cecil Rajendra spoke fervently in beautiful, but strong tones about the lies and destruction directions that the world has been taking for decades, even centuries. Following Rajendra came the talk of Arup's Peter Head, on the transition towards an "ecological age". If artists envisage the future, Head envisages certain very important elements of that future. Although there are elements in Head's approach which might be criticized for not questioning sufficiently the systemic models in for instance the economic field, there are definitely ambitious and eye-opening elements in Head's talk. Having heard him talk to artists in London in September, I know that his talk makes a sound impression on many of them. Not only because of his call to a deep cultural change, empowered and inspired by artists - although this probably helps to win their hearts. But their minds are also attracted by Head's many examples of city development which could entrail a positive change process.
I would still hold on, however, to the doubt regarding whether if Head's approach goes far enough. I am personally not too sure that we will see the success of the political and economic system, supported by a benevolent though engaged community of artists, in combating the trouble that we are in, if we do not dig deep enough to alter the systems on a structural level and alter deeply the way in which different sectors work together. There is a need, as far as I see, of taking Head's recommendations and looking deeper in the cultural looking-glass, so that we can understand not how to get to what he (and the Chinese prime minister) call the ecological age, but what the future looks like in which this has already become a fait accompli because we have found new directions for our civilisations, new processes for our societies, and new reasons for living at all, beyond the alters and idols of wealth, territory, competition and consumption. I hope that the next days of cultural actors responding to Head's invitation to help shape an ecological age will show that their communities, our communities, are capable of looking beyond the invitation and into new politics, new metaphysics, and new cultures.
Hope the tone is not too radical, it is written as I listen to Peter Head himself..