The aim of the Preface project is the introduction of an artistic research program as the basis for developing a conceptual and explanatory vocabulary of key terms and notions that are commonly used in the public sphere, and particularly, in art. These notions, proposed by invited curators, will outline the conceptual framework for each seminar's theoretical and practical activities with participants. The essence of the proposed approach is that "reading" cannot be limited by one idea or critical method, but will be multifaceted, interdisciplinary, and methodologically open. The concepts will be considered from an aesthetic, ethical and political point of view.
Against the background of recent events in Ukraine, art and culture are often seen as a tool for patriotic education. In general, art in Ukraine continues to play the role it had during Soviet times — serving ideological interests. On the other hand, it is common to understand art as something that functions only as entertainment or therapy. We are witnessing a crisis of ability to judge as a consequence of a narrow understanding of culture. This crisis is reinforced by the manipulative practices of mass media. Post-Soviet people are easily manipulated and susceptible to the influence of artificially generated situations that lead to a state of uncertainty in society; this is one of the main factors in igniting conflicts.
Preface addresses the very possibility of explaining the essence of concepts and words that belong to the vocabulary commonly used in public and, particularly, art discourse. This intention responds to and resists the ease with which words and concepts are used superficially (or instrumentalized) rather than being tied to the reality of experience. We'll try to initiate a rethinking of key terms and ideas by engaging our contemporary historical and social context. This also has political significance: whichever senses and meanings are constituted in a particular historical situation depends on the results of approved judgments. Judgment, according to Hannah Arendt, makes a distinction based on our attitude or our position in relation to something. Judgments have public value and performative power: by making a judgment I recognize the social status of an object, I form further opportunities for action — mine and of others — in relation to a specific object. Concepts have no absolute and unchanging substance. New forms and words are created and established at the time of their institutionalization and through the conscious activity of a society (community).
We believe that it is important for intellectuals from post-socialist countries with a common history, and thus certain common phenomena and problems, to meet and work on the theoretical and practical rethinking of basic concepts and ideas of culture and art. This will help clarify this common past and the way it affects the present day through a dialogue that takes into account local contexts. On the other hand, this activity also creates opportunities for investigating spaces for alternatives, for discovering and trying out a more complete form of common public language.
The program will culminate in the publication of a collection of theoretical essays in the form of a glossary. Art works, reports and discussions will be presented publicly in accordance with the results of the program. In addition, video recordings of discussions and program results will be posted on the project website for public access.