Our April conference gathered participants from 10 countries in Turnhout, Belgium. Some highlights.
'We all understand, in philosophical and cultural terms, that we live in Postmodern times. But what I want to suggest to you is that Modernism was the last phase of the Enlightenment. And we are now leaving the Enlightenment. Because the Enlightenment's ideas, including its invention of Fine Art and its purpose in society, was shaped by a world that no longer exists.'
Our collection of resources from the conference (audio, presentations, photos & related articles) is here.
Those words from François Matarasso, on the first day of Shortcut Europe 2018, seemed to echo throughout the rest of the conference. They resonated with Flanders Art Institute director Felix De Clerck's look at political pressure, activism and artistic freedom in the European cultural sector today, and with researcher Marjo van Schaik's analysis of the offspring of modernist architecture and the tough questions they ask us. Among which, 'Should we continue building cultural venues?' From centres conceived as centripetal, standalone points, to multi-use hubs dealing with hyperdiversity, interconnectivity and the goal - and sometimes diktat - of deep participation, the models she proposed drew lines around some of the sea-changes culture is going through.
In this discussion of new spaces for culture, architectural and schematic models loomed large. As the ENCC prepares to put a special focus, in the coming year, on supporting local networks, we are also trying to go beyond infrastructure and towards connection. To think beyond the hub model and towards the 'node' - or rather towards a tentacular, evolving, place-based cluster of nodes. Let's leave the last words to Leen Laconte, president of OKO (and thank her for reminding us of the complexity of the job):
'Connection is not successful just because there is a connection. It has to be a meaningful connection, a productive connection, and I also think it has to be a challenging connection - and a changing connection. [...] The real challenge is not to stop showing products or to prioritize processes, it is to use venues as free spaces to interconnect on meaning.'