“Myself as personality in global economic landscape”
In your opinion could or should art play a constructive role in resolving conflicts? Could or should art help in building bridges of understanding among conflicting views? How?
I’ve always been looking forward to finding a way to create real change in the society and environment by the analysis of the processes I observe. Therefore I began to study the architecture as an opportunity for the fusion of my analytic work with my life’s social activities, their contribution to its renewal. The decision to create the educational frameworks which comes from my architectural ideology is what I’ve been occupied with for the last 10-12 years.
I focus on founding and supporting creative communities, the value basis of which is a personal interpretation as well as common creativity processes. Through developing educational processes I’m trying to answer the question that I’m preoccupied with: how the city changes under the influence of new social, economic practices and forms of communication between people and what the process of city-development should become like.
At the same time I’m researching the efficiency of the above mentioned processes, their influence on human and environment. In cooperation with various research groups I’ve created a few major educational projects using the regularities I got from my research results. Among them are: International interdisciplinary project Urban Studio, which rises the problems of the modern city and the human’s role in the city environment; 4 educational one year postgraduate courses in the areas of architecture, media, education and culture; the MILHAUZ Institute of Education, Art and Identity, which combines academic research and real studio practical work. Today, Milhauz Institute works to build a vital community in three main directions:
First, it provides an interdisciplinary platform for young professionals who initiate and develop innovative methodologies and conceptual materials in fields of culture, media, education and art;
Second direction concentrates on initiation and implementation of the educational, social and cultural projects developed by the motivated young professionals – members of the institute. The last direction gives way to cultivating and integrating educational, media and social innovations, their adaption and expansion onto the daily lives
My study is dedicated to the key anchors of informal urban space, as seen through the prism of the relationship between public and private domains.
The definition of a public domain is initially based on its interaction with the private domain. Within this contradiction, the public domain is conceptualized simultaneously as the space of conflict/encounter with the Other and through the ways of transposing these conflicts onto a certain other plane (political, urban or existential). (Hannah Arendt). Thus, conflict and tension (combined with specific mechanisms of translating the tension into something else) is what makes the public domain public and the city – a city.
However, the macro-social trends of the past decades have led to conflict, as a permanent given and a necessity, often being excluded from the public domain. The attempt to protect private zones from encountering each other immobilizes and empties the public domain, bringing it at the end of this tendency towards a fictitious/illusory function and the role of receptacle for critical/radical outbursts of social “combustions”.
In essence, this should signify the death of the public domain as a the space for publicity per se. But is that so? Conflicts are not disappearing from human life, nor is the need to process them: today, the borders between public and private domains are changing, and new mechanisms and patterns of their functioning are appearing.
In my search for living public domains I turn to the informal sector of the modern city – it is semi-marginal and filled with people excluded from official institutions: migrants and freelancers, the temporarily unemployed and private entrepreneurs, students, housewives. This layer is becoming notably larger/broader as masses of people move from the field of material goods production into other sectors, and the precariat grows.
Exclusion from official institutions and the existential tension of survival (both physical and social) in the city are the two main traits characterizing the members of this urban layer. Multiplied together, they explode the places of silence and lack of dialogue, demanding and creating spaces to satisfy their needs.
Freedom of one starts where the freedom of another begins.
Art brings to the world the concept of uniqueness – the uniqueness of a phenomenon, thing, or moment. Such uniqueness creates a vector of meeting oneself with the world and other people through the opportunity to perceive the world as gatherness of individual interpretations into a joint unique discovery, rather than through comparison or competition.
I am inclined to define the art as the poetics (elegy) of a mistake. The art arises at the spear point of the incomprehensible, within the field of imperceptible collecting of various Others. It exists within the dimension of the mistake, in the gap of revealed inconsistencies. And the essence of any conflict is exactly the lack of coordination, and difference; that is why the conflict is an immanent beginning of any creative act of both the author and the spectator. The process of interaction with an objective side of art moulds a human expirience of existing in the state of possibilities and ambiguities. It urges to make tracks for a journy of meeting with an unknown.
This is that special method to resolve conflicts, which art is able to give to people. It develops the ability to stay within the conflict, think, feel, act, become more humane and delicate, and to gradually improve in the ability of accepting and adequately responding to other phenomena and opinions. When considering the conflict as an ontological reality of a “Creation act”, it is being transferred from the domain of the avoided to the domain of the necessary.
In practice, any teaching to art is teaching to patiently withstand the rigorous search of oneself in the world of unknown identities. However, an important point is that, in reality, those skills are just an inherent potential, and it requires its articulation and implementation in an educational process focused thereon, with a special methodology.
Art in itself does not always resolve conflicts – it can either resolve a conflict or escalate it, leading to the war. A true bridge in dealing with conflicts would be an eleborated educational process built on the basis of art and creativity and adapting their most powerful and unique potential or impact. Such a concept includes, firstly, admitting the existence of conflicts. Secondly, deep inner work of both the author and the spectator (or the listener/reader) on themselves. Third, bringing a palpabal outer world into looped actor’s interaction to convert it into creative one. There are two different approaches here: a) how to teach the skill of being in a conflict in a creative process, and b) how to teach to analyze art, and to be in conflict because of that.
It is important to note the main difficulty and the danger of that kind of educational process: they include a spontaneous primary human response to the unknown (fear) or to something which is not in line with the human’s mindset. Something which is different and foreign to you puts you yourself into question. At the basic level, it makes one want to protect oneself, most commonly in an aggressive form. The art (skill, ability) to actualize the educational process on the basis of the creative process is to avoid existing dangers and to turn the “shock” energy resulted from the meeting with the Other to a constructive direction – to the development, rather than to protection or privacy.
Put your hands in the sand.
For the past 15 years, we have carried out the work in the field of education based on creative processes, with different ages and target groups, and we can offer lots of examples of how art played a constructive role in conflict areas. A creative action and visualization/materialization make it possible to follow, more or less, the below path:
1) To detect a conflict, and then to transform a latent conflict into an open one
2) To articulate, to clarify the positions of the parties
3) To legitimize the existence of the conflict and to recognize the right to different opinions
4) To create a dialogue and exchange of views
5) Bringing phisical material into the process
6) To discover a new entity – a discourse, art object, view, question, or finding, which has developed as a result thereof
7) To encourage further interaction and work, thereby developing content in the field of culture.
One of the most shining (and, at the same time, simple) examples was associated with a creative project in a youth educational camp. The group comprised of children of 12 to 13 years old – an awkward age, many of them boys with completely different interests, unable to keep up conversation, with social conflicts arising from that, aggressive dynamics, and content not being processed – the group had no interest or motivation, and it was full of hidden underground conflicts.
After a series of tries and attempts to solve the situation, a decision was made to hold a creative workshop of ready-made sculpture, using very heavy materials as a source material – rusted iron found in a landfill site, as well as other parts bearing the stamp of time, which were extremely difficult to work with. They required struggling and overcoming difficulties, looked scary, complicated, and ugly – in the usual sense, and had the weight, the heaviness. A program of work in the workshop was offered, namely a creative process of disclosing the unique characteristics of that material. “Our material is metal and time, as well as additional ideas and features for showing their beauty” – so it was said.
And that workshop changed everything! After teenagers had had a fight with the material one on one and started to respect it, they began to respect their work and thoughts, as well as the work, thoughts and ideas of other group members. They became interested in works of each other, and thereafter, in the views and personalities of their authors. In just 3 hours, that workshop completely changed the situation in the group of 15 people, having turned hidden conflicts and stagnation into the most powerful energies driven by interest to other persons and their opinions.