20th art-symposium of eu-art-network
from 26nd August to 4th September in the Cselley Mill, Oslip / Austria
Since 2000, eu-art-network (EAN) has organised annual symposia whose participants have been international artists from diverse fields of contemporary art.
The participants have used visual art in all its forms, music, performance and literature to express themselves when addressing the different central themes each symposium is dedicated to.
These themes always touch on issues relating to Europe and affect the people of Europe and beyond.
Title of this year:
»I … WE… & …the others… «
or, Nationalism as global narrow-mindedness
Our 2019 art symposium was titled »I am not what I am…« and engaged the participating artists in an exploration of the question one cannot help but ask in response: »…what am I then…?« Contemplating this question inevitably raises another: »Who are we…?«, especially at a time when open democratic models of society are being called into question, when terms such as Islamisation, ethnic replacement, foreign infiltration and marginalisation are becoming part of our everyday language, and more and more chauvinistic phrases and xenophobic slogans can be heard.
Liberal, open societies are drawing narrower and narrower boundaries, and, as a relic of the primal instinct of tribalism and dominated by passion and prejudice, nationalism is spreading, and has caused nationalistic tendencies to permeate the political and social spheres.
Nationalism is a phenomenon of the Modern Era, which, particularly in the 19th century, led to the creation of nationalistic myths whose purpose was to define the newly formed nations as cohesive communities with shared traditions – real or imagined. In Europe, nationalism gained momentum due to the ideas of the French Revolution, which subsequently resulted in the formation of nation-states.
The concepts of »state« and »nation« are both an outcome of historical developments and are not »natural” conditions of human co-existence.
Burgeoning nationalisms have repeatedly been catalysts for wars, destruction, annihilations and forced displacements, and have contributed to shaping Europe‘s multi-faceted historical process, a process which, on the other hand, has also been marked by migration, multi-ethnic solidarity, economic heydays, as well as Enlightenment and Humanism. The cultural heritage of all of us is deeply rooted in a history of ever-changing identity politics.
In this context, it is interesting to pursue the question of how these changing identity politics affect people as individuals. What kind of reprisals and adversities is the individual faced with when governmental systems try to establish certain obligatory political, religious or national norms for a society? To what degree does the prescription of such norms promote views and actions that lead to exclusion and marginalisation?
Is nationalism just an attempt to escape from the future into the past, as Manfred Rommel puts it, or, as Ernst Ferstl calls it, »…narrow-mindedness on a global scale«?