Texts/Correspondence with Mika Hannula
Author:
Mika Hannula, 2001
Source:
Berlin Biennale (BB2)
Correspondence with Mika Hannula

The following text is a reply to questions asked by the organisers of the Berlin Biennale (BB2) to SUPERFLEX. It is developed in discussions between Mika Hannula and SUPERFLEX and formulated by Mika Hannula. The questions were: - how does artists reach out beyond the self, to make wider connections, be this in a critical or contributory way. - It seems as if there is a strong development towards a new attitude of generosity where consciousness of social situations inspire artists to pose questions, and offer alternative solutions. - Can you imagine your work as generous in terms of its connectedness? - Is it interesting to think of an artist as a potential problem solver, able to initiate real effects for real people in the wider world - to think in terms of feasible utopias.? To: SUPERFLEX From: Mika Hannula Date: 18.12.00 The Principle of Second Wave Values When faced with questions of whether one sees oneself or ones work as politically contributory and connected, socially conscious and generally generous, answering and relating to these important matters becomes highly problematic. Obviously almost all of us would want to pursue values that are combined with the above mentioned concepts. However, difficulties reach deeper than the self-evidence of wanting to be nice and do well. The nasty character of these concept is such that it evades and even destroys direct confrontations and answers. Thus, the only relevant and meaningful way to continue is by side-stepping, describing the perplexity of the problem. It is a problem which comes close to something which commonly is labeled as a paradox, but it is trickier than that. The genuine unresolvable dilemma lies within the relationship between the wish and the act - the motivation to be, for example, generous, and the way to achieve it. This problem can be stated as the principle of second wave values, not at all unheard in moral philosophy. On its core, it refers to the notion that certain values cannot be achieved when pursued directly or consciously, but are by-products of other, partly unplannable and unconscious activities. Put it simply, the principle of second wave values claims that, for example, political contribution and generousness are not things you can order or achieve by straighforward demand or aim. By their inner character, they are values which are created, maintained and renewed in cooperation with all the various participants in a time and place bound activity. In other words, and moving to the realm of contemporary art, these values are or are not formed in the often uncoordinated interactive process in-between artist, work, location, time, curator, critic and last but not least viewer. What is essential, these process always contain a clash of wishes and cultures - and ultimately the risk of failure in them. What this means is that values within the principle of second wave are by-products of a very complex, open-ended and uncontrollable action. It can all sound very strange and overly high-brow, but it need not be. In ABC common knowledge the saying dates back to the original inventors of jazz who were asked how to define their new style, and answered: if you need to ask, you will never know. It is also an action which ables us to highlight the sometimes thin but nevertheless existing difference between the means, aims and values of, in shortage of a better name, artists and, lets say, politicians and advertisers. Whereas the inner quality of the character of occupations such as a politician and an ad guru demands that they are able directly and credibly to define these concepts as buy, play and throw away products, the inner quality of an artist who wants to be socially connected and contributory and also generous, demands a much different approach. It cannot be a ready-made concept but an action, a movement. If the latter professions are by necessity succeeding or failing by their ability to state facts based on the attitude of either-or evaluations, artists must choose a different strategy. It is not about answering fast and sharp, but allowing the uncertainty of not answering at all. It is about putting forward various types of alternative ways of being and existing, which as a task always ends up in the question of what it means to be with - and to act with and within. And this you do, not because it is your free choice, but because you are forced to act so. There is no other way than being-with. One has to be very careful here. There is no mysticism and no wish to be artistically ambivalent in the wish of stressing the need to be with and the impossibility of answering questions framed by the principle of second wave values. These values are created, at best of times, within a unique situation in which the outcome cannot be defined at advance. They are site-specific situations which you cannot duplicate or imitate, but in which one thing is pleasantly clear. These events are always more demanding and time consuming than you can ever believe or admit. Situations in which you have to participate without knowing for sure what, where and how it will happen.

Tagged: biennal, text
 
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