Contrary to traditional museums many of today’s cultural institutions are more like ‘houses of culture’, where one can find reading groups, activists, lectures or even parties with clubbing music. It seems that most artists have an enthusiastic attitude towards these changes, often even encourage them. Sometimes they collaborate with scientists, people excluded from the mainstream society or school youth, church choirs or senior citizens. These joint efforts may result in ‘anti-art’, however more often they lead to creation of some sort of art which, due to the unusual circumstances of formation, take on unusual functions and meanings.
Art’s susceptibility to being redefined and moved between different contexts convinced researchers in the XXth century to open up the meaning of ‘art’. They based this decision on the terminology created by Ludwiq Wittgenstein. He defined an ‘open concept’ as an idea connecting items which have no clear common characteristics besides the one Wittgenstein described as ‘family resemblance’ – there is no way of providing characteristics sufficient to create a proper definition.
Wittgensten’s approach was heavily criticized because according to his opinion everything can be considered as art – this argument is being raised by those believeing in a timeless essence of art. In reality this radical relativism isn’t as popular as some people fear. Examples can be found in theory: Arthur Danto, one of the greatest eulogists of nominalism in western humanities, has tried to form a universal definition of creation. Few years ago Stephen Wright, a Canadian theorist, formulated a theory of utility of art. He’s not going away from nominalism, still saying that everything can be art through the act of naming, he is just shifting the emphasis. Wright isn’t interested in stretching the concept of art, he is instead focusing on the fact that people are constantly trying to create the definition, investing their emotions, time and energy sometimes looking for a vital interest in those investments. Wright is also suggesting that we shouldn’t neglect the intentions, values and opinions presented by various ‘users’ of art, as they don’t dare to question its existance.
During current edition of KRAKERS we would like to try to think about the contexts in which art becomes ‘something else’, not just an aesthetic object. We are not conisdering usefulness as a vulgar utilitarianism, a subject to One True Ideology. It also isn’t a synonym for effectiveness, especially if we define it as a direct result of the artist’s actions, which are best considered as ‘transition’. It is a result of meetings between different communities of the art world, various concepts of culture illustrated and supported by art as well as values and sensitivities consciously shown and celebrated by creators and recipients of art. Nothing is useful by itself, only ‘for someone’ or ‘for something’. To whom and why is art useful? – this is the leading (open) question of KRAKERS under the slogan ‘Art: an open concept’