The Public Opinion:  innehåll

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Junction

By Lars Almroth, Maija Suomalainen, Maria Lantz and Karin Willén.

Junction is a forum for discussions about society, publicity, art and architecture in the region of Östergötland. The aim is to make informal meetings and cross-over collaborations happen between politicians, artists and the inhabitants of the region. By doing this, one might find new solutions to complex problems in today's society. New questions can appear on the agenda. A way of creating new debates and connecting democracy to action.
Lately, contemporary art has shown an increasing interest in social questions. Junction is such an art project, promoted by four artists. However, we want to make "social art" in real life, for real. To make this happen, Junction leaves the space of the gallery to introduce the artistic method into society.

Today's politics is often reduced to a debate about practical matters. Discussions about basic ideology are rare. Junction wants to create conditions for a useful discussion where ideology as well as factual matters find a place. And while information and entertainment happen through media (representation), Junction wants to embrace genuine meetings on location - in real life and real time. The ability to carry on a conversation has become exclusive, an act of art, maybe. In the conversation, there is a subversive possibility, a resistance to the established power and possibilities of understanding, empathy, humor and community.

Junction will offer:

  • Lectures and seminars, run by invited experts.
  • Workshops on specific, current issues in different communes or the whole region. For instance, groups with delegates from different towns and with mixed occupations do investigations together. From this research, where personal needs can be expressed, suggestions for new buildings, roads, parks, etc., will emerge.
  • Public talks about planned and realized changes within societies - presentations of building-projects, public art-projects, changes in public areas and political decisions.
  • Exhibitions where public art, architecture, city planning are questioned.
  • New perspectives on these fields can be suggested.

The Public Opinion

At Kulturhuset, Junction is showing a recently made film about the start-up for the first happening: the introductory seminar. This seminar is going to take place in Norrköping during the fall, 2002. The film, shown in the movie theater in the exhibition, shows the preparations for this seminar. Some of the meetings the Junction artists had with politicians and employees at the commune have been documented. By visiting all thirteen communes in the region of Östergötland, we tried to explain our ideas and invite some key people to our first seminar. We had long and interesting discussions on the roll of the politician and the conditions in the local area. It was obvious that there was a need for new means of communication among politicians, employees, commercial interests and the residents. Some of the communes had already initiated democratic experiments such as Boxholm where "search-conferences" had been tried. Junction was therefore welcomed as an additional way of creating needed renewal in the area to meet new changes and needs. In general, we were received as people they would have sent for if they knew we existed. Our way of talking about the issues they deal with every day was liberating for them. Since we were not tied up by local conflicts and political parties, it seemed to us as if this could be a way of getting a bit of fresh air into their daily work. But of course we will stir up a bit of dust too..

This is how Junction thinks about publicity, art and philosophy!

Referring to writers such as Jürgen Habermas and Hanna Arendt, the debate, the conversation, the doubt and the critique is what defines publicity. Publicity, in that sense, has very little to do with streets and squares or with mass-media. Instead, publicity is the gap between where the individual can influence, move, sway. Our political and economical systems value publicity and diversity. However, we have to fight continually to keep the democratic debate from stagnating. This is where art can work as a wedge to make this space wider, can be an arrow heading towards the future. To give room and to care for arts' unique ability to shift and renew in society, is to help publicity and democracy to survive.

Today, artists often have an engagement in society and art is tending once again become political. Social processes, meetings between people, art as a springboard for public discussions is significant in contemporary cultural life. Artists used to be called avant-garde, - from French war-language meaning those-who-go-first. Today, we tend to see artists as "over-viewers" with a holistic vision. Instead of producing a piece of art to provoke - or entertain - like modernist artists have done for a long time, the contemporary artist rather collects and re-arranges the world. He or she suggests that the world could also be different. A "bricoleur" who knows many things in opposition to the specialist who knows one. In our time, the time of the specialists, the artist is a bridge-builder between these different islands of specialized knowledge. A very important roll in a democratic society.
The political parties we have lack interest in a philosophical discussion. Politics has become practice. And still, the philosophical field is where ideology is created. Artists today have a close and pragmatic relation to philosophy. A field of art-and-philosophy is emerging and this is where Junction takes off.

Junction is at the moment run by four artists based in Valdemarsvik and Stockholm: Lars Ahlmroth, Maija Suomalainen, Maria Lantz and Karin Willén. We can be reached at info@hpl.nu. The introduction-seminar is arranged in cooperation with Framtidens Kultur, Statens Konstråd, Östergötlands läns landsting, Norrköpings konstmuseum och Af Kultur i Norrköping.

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Design: Karin Hansson