by Jochen Volz


Artists and cultural institutions increasingly reflect on their social and political responsibilities in these times of increasing uncertainty, the erosion of democratic principles, and manipulation through biased social and conventional media.  The conversations and inquiries at the 2018 Verbier Art Summit began to point to questions around activism, education, and social mobilisation through art and I aim to extend and elaborate that direction of inquiry in the next iteration.

Even if the predictions of future events on our planet are still contested in the political sphere, scientists from all fields are calling for immediate action to address issues of cultural diversity, global warming, economic and political instability, mass-migrations, disease, and hunger.  They demand that collective awareness be raised around the globe for the challenges our societies are facing right now.  But it is a long way until school curricula, media agendas, and political programmes effectively make these issues their cause.

For the 2019 Verbier Art Summit, I propose to explore themes that have been present in artistic and institutional practices for decades, but that have gained additional urgency in recent years: concepts of many histories, of plural forms of knowledge, and of contradicting narratives and multiple truths. 

We are many and we can shape and direct the things that are happening.  Art can and should be a means by which to challenge prevailing thinking and spur individual and collective action.

Consider art as a way of experiencing a fusion of ‘pleasure’ and ‘insight.’
Reach this by impurity, or multiplicity of levels, rather than by reduction.
—Öyvind Fahlström, Take Care of the World, 1975 


Chapter in the 2018 Summit publication More than Real. Art in the Digital Age.


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