15th International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie Weimar and the City of Weimar

Failed Art - The Art of Failure

International Studio Program

15th International Studio Program 2009
"Failed Art - The Art of Failure"


The application deadline was December 5, 2008

New Scholarship Recipients

Under the auspices of the 15th International Studio Program of the ACC Galerie and the City of Weimar, exploring the theme "Failed Art - The Art of Failure," three artists have been invited to spend four months each this year (2009) in Weimar. 210 applications were considered by the jury, which during its December 17, 2008 sitting decided in favor of Rallou Panagiotou, a Greek artist living in Glasgow (Scotland), Davy & Kristin McGuire, a British/German artist duo living in Macau (China), and Hiwa K, an artist from Iraq living in Mainz (Germany). The jury consisted of Dimitrios Antonitsis (Athens, New York), Artist and Curator of the Hydra School Project (Hydra, Greece) and former participant of the program, Mika Hannula, Professor for Artistic Research at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), Carina Linge (Weimar), Artist and Representative of the Municipal Culture Office of the City of Weimar, Tilo Schulz (Berlin), Artist and Curator, and Aneta Szylak (Gdansk, Poland), Artistic Director and Curator of the Wyspa Institute of Art/Wyspa Progress Foundation. We are very thankful for all artists who have sent their applications and wish you lots of success with your artistic endeavours, a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Failed Art - The Art of Failure (2009)

The Lord: "Man errs as long as he doth strive."

Mephistopheles: "You'll not gain sense, except you err and stray!"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Prologue in Heaven and Classical Walpurgis Night

To err is human, and we learn from experience - so the saying goes. Goethe already knew that what we're lacking is a positive approach to our mistakes. For flaws and errors are often made taboo and labeled as individual or collective failures, in spite of the fact that they are often precisely what opens the path toward new thinking and qualitative change in society. Without them, no development is possible.

The bumpy, but never aimless side-paths of biological and cultural evolution are teeming with trials and errors; the driving force behind their steep ascent is the acceptance of false steps. Nevertheless, there's nothing we wish for more ardently than a perfectionized "zero-mistake culture." But isn't this culture also full of flaws, stresses, and strains, so that we could just as well speak of a "culture of error"? Doesn't precisely this imperfect, flawed world, together with the cheerful avowal of our own capacity for error, lead us to the escapes and cultural points of contact for which all the stories of failure appear again before us? A failure that doesn't just mean loss and bankruptcy in a world enslaved in black-and-white conceptions, tumbling out of balance, but that is fostered and cultivated so that our fear of deficiency is taken away from us? Is our sensory perception, our wealth of experience in the face of an overflowing abstract knowledge, embedded in virtual worlds, capable at all of admitting mistakes, of overcoming and correcting them?

The German word for malpractice, "Kunstfehler," (literally: "art mistake") is a term taken from medicine, whose etymological root hearkens back to the necessity that medical treatment be carried out according to current scientific standards (in Latin, "de lege artis" - "according to the rules of the art" - in English, "state of the art"). Medicine has always been faced with the difficulty of implementing practical knowledge in the conditions of reality; it bears fundamental responsibility for quality and the patient's well-being, for giving him thorough advice, a complete explanation of impending therapies and procedures, and a detailed elucidation of all possible risks. Perhaps it could also be this way with art. But perhaps the rules of art also provide the building blocks for that final bastion that doesn't shy away from dignified failing, passionate erring, delightful bungling, the allure of downfall: paradise for geniuses is not to be found in science or handicraft, but in art - the final haven for washouts whose failure becomes a new point of departure.

"Failed art," the mistaken, misunderstood, rejected, or bungled art work (in a sense the "Kunstfehler") - whether conceived intentionally or unintentionally - not infrequently yields the more convincing result when it remains at the level of the idea, experimental stage, prototype, description, simulation. With the art work that only remains a conception, that was never begun or finished, the glimpses offered into the creative process can be fascinating. A poet said, "Perhaps the failure of Einstein's attempt to establish a unified field theory is his most important contribution to physics." Artists who take pleasure in making their own failure the theme of a project can apply to the studio program, just as artists who wish to deal, in their work, with "the art of failure" and flawedness per se. And why shouldn't what Friedrich Nietzsche said about himself in "The Gay Science" be applicable to artists? "He is a thinker: that means he knows how to make things simpler than they are."