Our economy of ‘cultural individualisation’ seeks to cultivate self-employed, multi-tasking, creative individuals. As cultural producers, rather than work for money, we work for the dissemination and recognition of our ideas. We live for work. Because we are defined by our work – it is a lifestyle choice.
At the first Frieze Art Fair the critic Jan Verwoert talked about the situation of the Creative Individual. To conclude he asked these questions: “What exact economy are we working in? Are the conditions acceptable? Is there enough money in this economy to sustain creativity? Do we actually get the freedom we are promised in exchange for the investment of our personal creative energies? Do we get a real choice to define our working conditions or are we just led to accept a predefined status quo by the promise of participating in a glamorous culture of self-exploitation? How much actual freedom does my lifestyle of creative individualism provide me with? To which degree are we empowered or disempowered by our readiness to work for free?”
However, at the heart of this unhealthy situation is the hope of making a living in an enjoyable and rewarding way. I acknowledge this as a shared desire and us as ‘social individuals’ against the myth of the isolated creative individual. This propels my ‘self-organised’ activities.
Not yet night is concerned with our desire for self-determination and autonomy. Ernst Bloch referred to the unfinished character of the human condition as ‘not-yet’ (noch nicht). He accorded the arts so significant a place because it is able to extend, “in an anticipating way, existing material into the future possibilities of being different and better”. Art must imagine an ‘other’ to the ‘now’. The imaginative act is a call to action.
Not yet night, curated by Babak Ghazi, 2005. Courtesy of the Babak Ghazi, the artists and Studio Voltaire, London.