Ad hoc Manifesto for Art Students
Do what you want to do, no matter what it is. Have fun.
Whatever you do, it should have something to do with yourself and with your own interests, and not with much else. There is no need to imitate professors, current
art trends, anything chic or anything trendy.
Learn just whatever you need to know. Don‘t buy into the idea of learning some or many techniques first and then going on to do your own stuff. When you need
to learn something, learn it by doing it. If you don’t have anything to say, just don’t bother trying to say it. Be happy if you have to learn in an autodidactic manner.
It might be even more promising, if the stuff of your interests is not offered in your art school. Saying this, I do not want to neglect all the great things art students
can learn from regular art teachers and their work places.
The social environment – including the faculty and visiting artists – one encounters on a campus is the most important thing an art school offers. Embrace it fully,
but there is no need to run after people ahead of you. Instead, work with the people who want to work with you and create relationships with whoever you can,
independent of their standing in the hierarchic pecking order of the given context. All good things derive from you and from the students around you, but don’t
expect much else. Organize yourself socially.
Redefine success. Every work, every career looks different if it’s really worth the adventure. You have to define for yourself what you want, what you can handle,
and what you really need. You have to decide on your own, what success constitutes for you. Be aware of the difference between how you feel and see yourself
and how you are perceived by others. Often, artists tend to easily fluctuate between exuberance, arrogance, and depression.
Accept anti-illusionary education. Embrace a no-future situation. As a second-hand Lacanian might formulate it, love your wounds and keep offering what you
can’t deliver. Education is love, love is education. Loosen up. Accept being a loser. Enjoy all the bliss.
SEVEN – Economics
Don’t depend on sales. Try to fix your economic basis otherwise. With few exceptions, artists who want to succeed always find a way to get by somehow. If not,
memorize Franz Kafka’s A Hunger Artist and recite it for money, or move to Leipzig for as long as it remains dirt cheap. There is always a Brooklyn of the early
1990s, a Berlin of the last fifty years, and a Leipzig of the current moment. Let‘s all meet in Odessa soon.
Art and the reception of art are questions of time. There are very few young artists who can cut it all short and hit some kind of jackpot at a very young age,
though they may pay a price for it when prices are not sustainable and the downfall becomes graphic. The great curators, collectors, museum directors, and art
dealers of the future are most likely studying next to you and look all alike. It is normal to always feel voiceless, powerless, and in need of those who look like
they have it all. But ignore all this nonesense.
FINAL MUSIC - YOU GOT THE POWER …
Power is nonsense in that it doesn’t exist by itself. It results from all participants in a given game, a given context. Power always shifts, travels, transforms itself,
and visits anybody who doesn’t give up ahead of time and capitulate. Today’s Macher, today‘s makers and shakers and great artists, were yesterday’s students
and most likely felt as irrelevant as art students usually feel when it comes to questions of success and power. There is no need to suck up to those ahead and
disregard colleagues and peers who enter the circuit later. This self-defeating and unpleasant behavior is unfortunately the predominant style in the art world,
detectable already in art schools.
The best way to escape this trap is to organize things oneself and do it with one’s peers and friends. Students really shouldn’t be bothered with much else but
their own practices and activities, because only if they manage to connect with themselves and their own generation will they be able to take over from those
ahead of them. Every generation will create their own stars and find somebody to fill the role of the curator, collector, art dealer. Anybody might play a role in this
vast network of whispers, opinions, and up-and-down mouthing that so much influences all the various decision-making processes that we feel so dependent
upon. The wheel of generational succession will never stop turning.
The bigger the frustrations, the boredom, and the ignorance of what people define as successful art, the better and easier it is to break in with better, different,
and more exciting art. Hence, we don’t need to complain anymore. Let’s just be really happy and celebrate the fact that there will always be amazing art works
made. Their time will come.
New York / Leipzig / New York 2014