Make society as Art is Made
A questionnaire in order to reflect on our future
We are in the midst of a gigantic political and social experiment, the results of which are impossible to predict. In the face of this pervasive uncertainty, we believe that the best thing we can do is carry out an exercise in collective self-reflection, taking this impasse as an invitation to throw light on possible futures.
The idea is to reflect, with the help of this questionnaire, on two fundamental questions that arise at this moment: What is important to me? What world do we want to live in?
Concomitentes grew out of Nouveaux Commanditaires, a French project which has “Faire art comme on fait societé” (Make Art as We Make Society) as one of its mottoes. When we founded Concomitentes in Spain, we adopted this maxim to indicate that although our project originates in art, it also has a strong social focus.
This twin objective is always with us. On the one hand, we endeavour to establish contemporary art as an essential part of everyday life, but at the same time, we want our projects to be socially useful, to be carried out in collaboration with civic society, and to play out in public and social space.
What does a situation like the current emergency mean to a project like Concomitentes? As we watch the health system collapse before our eyes, isn’t it perhaps frivolous to to keep working on an artistic-social project with a group of nurses in an ICU? While we are locked down at home for an indefinite period of time, can we continue to think about organising parties and to “dance together” with the community of physically challenged persons that are now actually considered at risk, and will thus probably have to remain in confinement much longer than the rest of the population? Should we keep talking to the inhabitants of a small town about creating a public art work when they will probably soon have more pressing things to worry about? Is this the right time to focus on rethinking a university library, when the entire education sector is at a standstill on a hitherto unimaginable scale?
I think many of us have had similar doubts in recent weeks about the social relevance of our work. The sheer magnitude of the health crisis and the efforts to contain the pandemic curtail ambitions. But as the days in quarantine go by, the sense of urgency is giving way to more deliberate reflection. Little by little, we are starting to ask ourselves why this happened, and where this situation is going to lead us now.
We can see that in spite of its seriousness, the pandemic is not going to bring down society, but it does have the potential to intensify the many other crises and debates that we have become accustomed to living with in recent years. We can see that the measures intended to contain the pandemic are increasing social inequality. We can see that the health emergency is partly due to the collapse of the public sector, which should theoretically be better equipped to deal with these kinds of problems. And we can see that this health crisis is only the beginning of a larger economic, social, and political crisis which will undoubtedly intensify discussions over what course society should take.
Aside from our specific projects, which have, for obvious reasons, slowed down, we want to contribute to this emerging social debate. We are switching around the terms of our motto, from “Make Art as Society is Made” to “Make Society as Art is Made” so as to emphasise art’s inherent capacity to reinvent and project itself into the future.
With this in mind, we have designed a survey as a speculative exercise to help us reflect on two fundamental questions: What is important to me? What society do I want to live in?