A special post written by: Yehuda Kassif
The presentation day focused mainly on the stages of creation. The topic became increasingly annoying. When Lisa Walker, the ’craftswoman’ from New Zealand-Munich, stepped up to the podium, (remember, I described her before as "a pioneer due to her unique perception") and when the pictures from her presentation were accompanied by pseudo-psychological, semi-poetic statements, read in a melancholy drone, I found myself losing my concentration.
Her presentation was filled with pictures of trash jewelry that came from garbage and returned to it very ceremoniously. I came to the amusing conclusion that there probably isn't that much of a difference between the influence on the human psyche of endless fields of grass, flocks of sheep, blue skies and clear oceans on the one hand, and the mental stress that causes the use of the color red + military operations + riots in Bil'in + listening to a religious sermon delivered simultaneously by former Knesset member, Esterina Tartman, on the other. In both cases the extreme outcome would be a disputed artistic creation, in the good case scenario, or worthless nonsense in a blunter scenario.
From this moment on I tried to figure out what was bugging me.
The stages of creation – important or unimportant?
I asked myself whether the evolution of creation was more important than the creation itself.
In my mind I tried to invoke similar scenarios. The liturgical singing of the Ramat Gan choir in the Ya'arim church on one of the festivals held in Abu Gosh came to mind. Do the unique musical experience of listening to the sounds and harmony filling the hall, the echoes vibrating off of the high dome, compare to the experience of listening to structured singing practice, to the monotonous practice of trilling scales, to the rehearsal of throat-warming ladder keys, or a mechanical run through disjointed bars and musical segments? Not likely.
I understand the interest evoked by the idea of trying to get into the artist's mind and soul in an attempt to understand where creation comes from. It is often interesting to understand the stages of fruition, the trials and tribulations, the feeling of being trapped or going around in circles that many artists face before their creation takes on its final form. Bravo to those who show us regular and then x-rayed pictures of a posed hand, an undergarment, etc. (as Dr. Reuven Zehavi presented in his lecture), but is this matter more important than the journey a practicing artist takes? Can it be more important than the experience of acquiring his tools? Could you turn sculpting tools into a final product?
If the evolution of creation is important, why then should we ignore its more basic stages such as producing pigmentation, weaving thread, and /or the making of squirrel tail-hairs into a brush
If an artist has chosen to sign his work in one way or another why must I look through numerous hidden layers in an attempt to recover it? On the other hand, we've also seen educated analyses laden with insight of creations lacking any hidden meanings or layers, which turned out to be fakes…
Sharon Keren, head of the Shenkar College's Department of Jewlery Design and president of the Zik Group, addressed "the politics of creation and a creation of politics," focusing his lecture on an attempt to pinpoint the approach which puts the evolution of creation before the creation itself. It is my opinion that the lecture was unconvincing. The artist presented a video of the development of one of the group's projects and explained that his artistic approach is based on two foundations, the first being cooperation between artists, and the second - placing the development of the creation before the final product.
The Zik Group was founded in the mid 80's of the 20th century by Keren and a select group of artists. The group erected sculptural structures mostly made out of wood, in a representation of the building process which would then be summarized by a climactic moment when the structure would be set on fire and engulfed in flames (usually accompanied by the proper music ad pyrotechnic techniques). Thus the cycle was complete from production to destruction
The video presented during the lecture did not culminate in a burst of flame. The creation was wrapped up and made to disappear. The question remained unanswered – beyond the technical issues, what artistic reasoning could there be behind driving a yellow tractor on the sands of the Acre beach, carrying pieces of sculptured wood destined to be engulfed in a fire? What really is the difference between this sculpture and a bunch of doors, construction debris or some old carts used in Lag Baomer bonfires?
As I watched the Zik Group's creation sacrificed before us (a sculptured pyramid in which a structure posing as an altar was erected supporting a glass box filled with autumn leaves) I wondered what the spectator was supposed to bring away with him from watching the building of the structure and its subsequent destruction?
In my mind I recalled a passage from Exodus pertaining to the Tale of the Seat. Moses - who was known as a political man with a social and religious conscience, an ability to negotiate, to lead, a man of great charisma and religious belief, a man of conviction and vision, a man with organization and managerial skills - decides to initiate an artistic project. A complex project designed to portray religious belief and doctrine, including the design of space, dishes, ambiance, uniforms, jewelry and allusion. In short, what every architect office\ exhibition designer would call: ’one hell of a project.’ The stuttering leader understands that in order to accomplish his fancy designs he must acquire a proper work team. ’The entrepreneur‘ posts a notice depicting the applicants’ required qualifications.
The notice does not refer to "the evolution of creation" as seen through the artist's conflicted perception or his poetic detriment. Instead, it depicts the desired mental capacities in a very direct way; intelligence, emotional intelligence, wisdom, thoughtfulness, productivity, teaching skills - in short, a creative man with ideas of his own.
It appears that the evolution of the Seat's creation was a marginal concern; the expectation from the artist was the manufacturing of a product born of intelligence, creativity, talent and capability. By the way, the artist was expected to be down-to-earth and realistic.
Post-modernism and the post of the post and the post of the post and the post… up to the "Swinish Individualism"
Michal Porpovski's lecture ’The reason behind the new-age clothing of post-modernism‘ was tempting because of its title and its interesting content.
The first question that the lecture aroused was "what will be the next step?" If "modernism" was defined by Wikipedia as "artistic and literary styles developed in the early 20th century, that is to say in the decades before the first world war, as a result of an attempt to resist end of 19th century cultural norms," and if "post-modernism" is an accepted term for "a response and even a rejection to the modern period and its values, characterizing the second half of the 20th century on the cusp of the 30th century," then what will become of us after the post-modern period? How will we define ourselves? The ’next stage‘ period, the ’we'll-wait-and-see-what-happens-next- until-someone-says-otherwise‘?
I've decided on the solution - we must institute the "swinish individualism period."
In an era of swinish capitalism, swinish politics grow, and in an era swinish politics there grows a swinish society characterized by swinish individualism. Thus, it wasn't difficult to gather that out of an era of swinish individualism grow swinish art and even swinish design.
What is Swinish Capitalism
In order to avoid the pitfall of a lengthy and tiresome financial essay, let's just say that capitalism is a socio-economic system founded upon the individual's right to private ownership of his or her property, and the right to make voluntary use of it, without restriction by the state authorities. Capitalism defines the means to create a self evolving field of play, but does not involve itself in the valuation of its quality, merit, or ethical value.
The core of the capitalist theory asserts that a socio-economic system will achieve the highest efficiency when the personal freedom of the individual, with an emphasis on the right to property, is maintained. The theory therefore stipulates that market forces will naturally balance each other and that they are an integral, deterministic part of the system of natural selection, and that the best course of action is to allow these forces to operate freely.
Recently we have been witnessing an intensification of traditional capitalism, to the extent of total disregard for any social or ethical value other than personal, immediate, and maximum gain of the fittest.
From there, we have moved to a stage of attempting to “aid” the market forces in order to assure our own survival by driving our competitors to extinction and boosting revenue (our own revenue of course).
And finally, we have reached the climax of 'swinish capitalism' – use all means available to destroy your competition. Swinish capitalism can be implemented while maintaining 'swinish politics', which is only a small extension of the stages I discussed above. The recent events of our local politics served as an ever relevant illustration for the feelings I experienced while listening to the informed lecture.
Following the evolution of the economic theory as well as the political theory above, or perhaps simultaneously, a corresponding world view has been formulated. I call it 'swinish individualism.' In the field of art I find it easy to demonstrate this view. Rather than searching for an abstract idea which "turns my gut" (such as the massacre in the town of Guernica, the Armenian Holocaust, the Holocaust of European Judaism, world famine, horrid epidemics and so forth), work on artistic means for criticizing these appalling phenomena (in painting – 'Guernica', in prose -", or in sculpture – "), and publicly showcase the painting, prose, or sculpture as a testament and warning lest the evil described repeat itself, I escape into my own little world, which is as narrow as my own four walls.
I am the centerpiece: my creative process, my deliberations, my 'emotional pain', my 'private intricacy', and my 'irrefutable inner truth.' My dancers supposedly dance to the music played to the audience, while I secretly equip them with hidden earphones through which I pipe a completely different form of harmony (as did Ohad Naharin, Anaphasa, and the Bathsheva dance troupe).
Have I redeemed humanity? Not necessarily. Is this private realm relevant to the life of my audience? It might be, and it might not. The spectator may find in it echoes of his or her dreams or nightmares, or find it to be irrelevant and uninteresting. But why would any of that matter? I exposed my own bleeding heart, and that will suffice. And if my bleeding heart will not suffice, I shall put the creative process in the focal point, and thus spare myself even the emotional exposure.
In the exercise of swinish individualism, I am committed to nothing but to myself. I am not obligated to do a thing beside attain myself more stimulus, more pleasure, more more more, me me me.
From swinish individualism to swinish design
Design involves the planning of a product or a set of products, in a way that they may be able to give a suitable response to a set of criteria, such as a pleasant visual appearance, greater comfort, systems of price considerations, the users’ understanding of the product, etc.
Similar to art, design aims to incorporate themes (psychological themes, social and esthetical themes, etc.) as well as day-to-day proponents (usually engineering and technical proponents).
Usually, the designer has practical restrictions which the artist does not face, causing many ambiguities and conflicts between the two areas.
Both art and design are functions of time, space, culture and ways of life. Nonetheless, art begins from inspiration whereas design starts with a rationalistic concept.
The act of art flows into the creative process. Design flows into a process of organization and incorporation of material in order to create a product or products which meet the criteria above (attractive, comfortable to use, cheap, etc.).
Swinish design will cause the product to become the desire of the designer rather than that of the user. In one of the presentations I saw an outfit which had pins sticking out of it. Amongst the other designed items was a collar which shot out pins. In a porcupine's world this would be considered a great success, but in our world? What for?
Swinish design will ensure that the designer is in the front lines - he or she will have respect, recognition and monetary return. It is easy to exemplify this while watching fashion shows down by the "post-post-post" house of fashion. You find yourself turning to the screen and asking the owner or the head designer who prances out on the runway following a bunch of anorexic, painted, plucked, tied down and/or hobbled creatures with broad smiles on their faces: "Tell me, Mr. Designer, would you wear an outfit like that?"
In The Emperor's New Cloths, Hans Christian Andersen tells of the emperor whose tailors convince him and his court that only intelligent people will be able to see the outfit they have created on his behalf. Since no one was willing to admit their stupidity, the king walked out into the street naked as the day he was born. Only one child, who did not fear for his image, upended everything when he called out "Hey, look, you can see his penis." Hans Christian Andersen, being a polite European writer, modified the child's language into the coined phrase "the king is naked."
Today we might say that the story contained hidden implications:
A well-oiled PR system that dictated to the entire kingdom.
The fear of saying what you really think so as not to appear to have broken away from the consensus.
Mainly extreme swinish individualism which states that "if I could only convince everyone that my ability is beyond reproach, I could present my creation as a unique feat, even if I created nothing at all."
Swinish individualism does not deal with the creation or its evolution. The swinish individualism system pertains to a system of benefits, recognition and rewards the designer will acquire. Since this is the designer's only goal then the smartest and most beneficial proceeding is to remove the "product" from its regular sphere. Meaning, rather than a process of "from raw materials I have created something and now I reap the rewards," the designer would prefer gaining his rewards by utilizing his idea to create a well-oiled system of psychological and mental manipulation (a PR system) that will ensure the hoped for result.
The problem with these self-powering systems and their attempt to get into every fissure and crack is that they could never muffle the protestations of that little boy who will inevitably cry out: "Hey you can see his penis. The king is naked, he's simply naked."
In summary, presentation day is all in all an interesting day, sometimes due to what you hear or see, and sometimes due to your dreams. The encompassing people are always real. Bottom line, I recommend it.