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All it takes is a little prodding from Big Brother and what you get is a massive scale movement in art. Or is it? The ACTIVE SLUMMING protest in Germany is causing quite a stir with a lot of artists, journalists, government officials and academia.

Active Slumming is a mixture of performance art, installations, site-specific sculpture and psychogeography. The drive for the pieces is the cost cutting by Germany’s government because of intense national debt. The cost cutting would make Germany’s free higher education facilities similar to our own universities where even state funded schools are increasingly expensive. Students and faculty are fighting this pending change in a hope to bring their voices to the government. As a result, “Active Slumming” is occurring in a range of mediums and expression by a range of people.

Classes being held in trains, as if they were in a normal class room, or students creating satirical words with their bodies on ice rinks have a specific message protest[ing] against the direction of their future…, but actually it could just as easily be an art installation. Installations of slum housing on the steps of the schools are intended to call attention to the dismal situation students face in the coming years. These are torn down hastily by the authorities showing their message of protest is coming through to the people that need to hear it. The shape and construction of these structures are reminiscent of the happenings installations by Oldenburg and Kaprow, furthering the vision of these and the other happenings artists in the hope of blending… various art forms, say, dance, sculpture and poetry, so that art is no longer compartmentalized or made precious. The preciousness of art is also diminished with the use of technology to organize the events. Familiar means of communication with everyone eases the stigma that “art is something I don’t understand”. Websites and cell phones are making for almost spontaneous actions, much like our beloved flashmobs. This, therefore, leads us to the influence and application of psychogeography. No mapping is occurring here, but the trend of movement and the conscious consideration of affecting a specific location’s inhabitants and influences are specifically psychogeographic in nature.

From this perspective, this type of event is an exciting event from which to build off. The generation of enthusiastic participation in creating mass performance and installation art is spectacular. Embrace of technology to make it happen is an acknowledgement of the times and current trends in communication making the participants feel comfortable with their participation. In turn, vast amounts of new people have continually gathered and spread, each time branching out to new people. The events have lasted for a while, acknowledgingly fueled by the looming threat of dues, nonetheless people that never considered themselves artists are now participating in what we call “art”.

The works here are all provocative, yet the intent of the creators should not be forgotten. The importance of intention is raised here with all of these pieces. We see exciting happenings, while the creators might simply consider their actions “political protests”. Either way, a powerful and creative method of establishing links to everyday people for the purpose of creating something new is being forged.

Posted by Gabe in activism :: intervention | Permalink


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