With Forms of Life of Forms: Extending the notion of form, from aesthetic to social and political, I want to bring my research as associate researcher of a.pass together in an installation (research environment) which is activated in different moments for collective exchange around a theme of the artistic research (performative publishing).

Politics is a matter of the distribution and arrangement of bodies, goods and capacities. Political power as such involves imposing order on space, organizing time, and arranging hierarchies. At the same time, it means that the contestation of these power relations includes ways of rearranging these orders. In this way, political practice is an activity of ordering, patterning and shaping. So the political is not without form. On the other hand, the form that art takes is a sedimentation of historical and social conditions – it does not exist in a vacuum. Art gives an impetus to what is possible to think, say and do in a given moment and constellation. In this way, artistic practice can be seen as engaged with the way new forms can generate a new understanding of our world and different ways of presenting it. For me, this insight was a crucial link in bringing together my thinking on politics and art.

In my association with a.pass as a researcher, I focused on the question of what this means for cultural practices in order to broaden our notion of form and to pay more attention to the effect of different forms in and on the world. So I have related my research to that of art practice. In the arts, any reference to form brings with it a suspicion of formalism, the modernist notion that art refers only to itself and is therefore autonomous. In a world on the edge of ecological malaise, increasing inequality, and a constant growth of xenophobia, progressive artists, curators, and institutions have rightly positioned themselves at the forefront of thinking and using alternatives. In their view, art should therefore be about the things that happen in the world and the discussion of works of art should therefore be about the content and context rather than their form. As a result, they condemn any interest in form as a neglect of the political. In my opinion, we could progress the idea of the relevance of the arts to things in the world, precisely by paying more attention to form. For example, if we involve social arrangements and patterns of socio-political experience around us in what we understand by form, we see that forms are at work all around us.

I think that a renewed focus on form – aesthetic, social and political – can be a progressive approach to cultural practices in the step towards building alternative forms of life. My conception of form as a pre-figurative leitmotiv in artistic practices creates a renewed relationship between the artistic form and the forms that frame our world. With Forms of Life of Forms, I want to work with others to better understand forms in all their expressions and workings, but above all to gain an insight into how we can use forms to change the world around us. Knowledge about the elements that make up our world is the first step in asking the questions. How do we represent the world and our position in it? And how do we imagine the world and ourselves as they could be? Artistic research in this way is a social practice that seeks to understand and give meaning to the world around us.

a.pass associate research group 2019

Research by
Rob Ritzen

Curated by
Rob Ritzen

Scenography by
Rob Ritzen

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