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Ecoaesthetics: A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century

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Is the history of humanity also not a history of violence, what Walter Benjamin calls the barbarism of civilisation? Our six thousand or so years of civilisation have given us tremendous knowledge, of ourselves, of the world around us and of the cosmos. We are now much more knowledgeable and can penetrate the invisible space of the universe. But we are often unable to resolve even small disagreements or disputes among ourselves without resort to confrontation leading to all kinds of violence. Art today is also trapped in the facile idea of confrontation, which merely produces media scandals where its function is merely to provide the artist with success in the art market. This inflates the artist's narcissistic ego further and turns him or her into a celebrity, providing spectacular entertainment for the public but without any significant critical or social function. This manifesto proposes that artists should stop playing the silly games of neo-Dada confrontation. Artists should instead focus their imagination on what is in life, to enhance not only their own creative potential but also the collective life of earth's inhabitants. The world today is facing enormous violence and this will increase in the twenty-first century as the Earth's resources shrink due to the stupidity of the life humans have been pursuing. Art can and should strive for an alternative that is not only aesthetically affirmative and productive but also beneficial to all forms of life on our planet. We humans are the gift of mother Earth, and it is now our duty as its guardians to protect the earth from impending disaster.
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Keywords: Conceptualism; Dada; Ecology; Joseph Beuys; Marcel Duchamp; Russian Productivism; avant-garde modernism; collaborative art; eco-art; global art market; land art; reforestation; relational aesthetics; subsistence farming

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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