10th International Studioprogram - Application

10. Internationales Atelierprogramm der ACC Galerie und der Stadt Weimar (2004)
10th International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar (2004)

Kristina Leko
Tea Mäkipää
Martin Sastre

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10th International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar

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The concept of irony - like irony itself in its scintillating, playful essence - knows many facets and evades precise definition. There is frequent mention of "Socratic irony" - the false pose of ignorance that Socrates delighted in striking more than two millennia ago, the practice of saying the opposite of what one thinks or of what is true as a means of emphasising the truth - availing oneself of the lie in order to expose the lie. Be that as it may, along with absurdity, irony seems to accompany us day in, day out. Indeed, as a survival vehicle, strategy, and weapon, it seems more unavoidable today than ever. Irony could even be suspected of ruling us. We make fun, we backbite, even about ourselves; at the same time, we handle our faith and trust with kid gloves, shy away from real involvement. Drilled by the media, tuned into the joke, we venture onto the double-bottomed plateau of irony more willingly and self-confidently than into the jungle grown thick with seriousness and sincerity. Following the disaster of 9/11, the end of irony was widely dictated, proclaimed, and demanded, evoking such fashionable terms as "post-irony." "Romantic irony" was seen by its inventor, the German philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel of Jena (1772-1829), among other things, as self-parody that enables one to regard jest as earnestness and earnestness as jest until the earnestness of life caught up with him in the War of 1804, causing him to call for an end to jest and irony. Anti-ironical attitudes tend to surface in crisis situations and, since Classical Antiquity, have regularly alternated with popularity booms during which irony does not remain a mere rhetoric strategy and means of humour, pure and simple. If at no other time, it is in such moments that irony can serve as a model of cognition, offer an alternative to existing circumstances and patterns of thought, and gain critical, even subversive potential. In the process, its linguistic, intellectual and artistic application can lead to a far-from-innocuous challenge to the predominant culture, morals, politics, and religion - a challenge to the discourse of established hierarchies and existing constellations of power. Here art - in its many guises - is capable of occupying the position of critical outsider. The method of ironically questioning traditional principles of aesthetic order as a means of disconcerting the viewer and questioning his/her patterns of perception can be traced from the avant-garde to the postmodern, from Marcel Duchamp's "meta irony" of indifference, John Heartfield's subversive strategies and René Magritte's perception tricks to the artists who have shaped the ironical conception of the world since the 1960s: Andy Warhol, Marcel Broodthaers, the Guerilla Girls, Sigmar Polke, Rosemarie Trockel, Jeff Koons, Martin Kippenberger, Maurizio Cattelan and others. What place does irony occupy in contemporary artistic practice? Do we still need irony, even when it is drifting in the wake of self-referential postmodernism, nothing but a deactivated, inhibited, weakened strain of its former power and glory? Must we rely on it as a means of blurring even the slightest trace of sobriety and a strong and vocal point of view? Are there any new strategies and concepts of irony that do justice to art's occasional outsider function and question the real-life satire of a society based on capitalist values? Increasingly, it is irony for irony's sake - trivial, void of opinion, incapable of taking anything seriously or conveying meaning - with which we are confronted on television and the other media. What will happen when this form of irony starts to dominate our lives, replacing things like trust, faith, unaffected devotion, open expression of views, and solemnity, merely on account of their apparent ineffectiveness? This invitation to apply for participation in the 10th International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar is directed to all individuals who seek artistic answers to these questions or who already have ideas for answers and would like to see them through to realization.