Origin?! No man's land

International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar (since 1994)


Municipal Studio Building

Invitation for application to the 9th European Atelier Programme of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar 2003 in collaboration with the Kolleg Friedrich Nietzsche

Johann Gottfried Herder, a preacher at the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul in Weimar, is one of those prophets who are denied due recognition in their own land: The gods Goethe and Schiller are too powerful. And Herder's forcefulness of language apparently did not suffice to create coinages of the kind produced by the "classics," i.e. with unquestioned inclusion in the rich store of German expressions. His narrative potency failed to add any new figure to our wealth of literary characters, at least none anyone could think of today. And nevertheless, Herder is not merely an ephemeral spectre of Weimar's intellectual past. On the contrary, our conception of the world still bears the mark of some of his ideas - although we are not aware of the identity of their author. An example is Herder's concept of the "Volkskultur" (people's culture) or "Kulturnation" (cultural nation), which bore a substantial influence on the intellectual history of Europe. Herder helped not only the Germans but also the peoples of the Baltic countries, the Poles and, indirectly, even the various inhabitants of the Balkans to gain an awareness of their own cultural identity, a new feeling of belonging. In the late nineteenth and above all in the twentieth century, the idea of "völkisch" ("of the people") became united with that of the nation and enjoyed an uncommon rise in popularity which culminated in its employment for the purposes of Nazi ideology. Then, for many decades of the post-1945 period, even its incidental mention triggered an irrefutable sense of discomfort. Today we find ourselves in the age of the dissolution of many nation-states, a development referred to with such questionable metaphors as "the increasingly coalescing House of Europe" or all too quickly labelled with the even more widespread term "globalisation" - celebrated here, combated there. And Herder is hardly remembered anymore as the father of the idea of the "Kulturnation." For the contemporary artist, the concept of national culture is still likely to cause friction: Can anyone who has set out to succeed on the international art market afford national affiliation in his/her forms of expression? Or is local colour perhaps just the ticket in the age of instantaneous data transmission and jet-setting - as an exotic mark of distinction from the mainstream claimed to be nothing but a uniform, monotone mass but in reality non-existent? What is the link between the innate, unmistakable and unalterable traits identifying people and societies with what can be acquired from everyone? And: To what extent does the digital world allow one to sit in the home of one's choice and communicate with the world by way of a monitor? Is confrontation with the local reality still indispensable? Didn't the nomadic form of existence already become obsolete ages ago? Or is the immediate experience of "the other" perhaps more important than ever in today's world? What does globalisation mean - and (provided one wants to) can one escape it?

Artists who are prepared to relinquish their nomad's existence for three months and subject themselves to the good old customs of Spartanly, hard-working life in a small German town are invited to apply to the 9th European Atelier Programme of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar.