‘it is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there’
William Carlos Williams
In May 2014, ARTos Foundation and MoTA organised a three-day symposium to conclude the first two years of TRIBE residencies. The symposium took place in Cyprus, perhaps one of the most visually scenic and illustrative countries for the topics we were addressing in the past two years – the topics of transitoriness and transition. The aim of this symposium was foremost to discuss and reflect on the present realities we are facing as artists in the broadest sense of the word – as critical and curious human beings who aim to make changes. Our purpose was to structure a gathering that would make us understand our practices better, and consequently conclude this project with a clearer idea of what transitory art is.
The symposium was roughly divided in four topics: tactical media, spaces, transitory art and sound, following the main trails we identified in the artistic practice of TRIBE artists. But in the end, the spaces panel led to a discussion on programming and emotions, transitory art became a discussion on death and archiving, and tactical media was about dismantling any kind of definitions, starting with art. Organically, we tackled and discussed questions that move us beyond categorisations, mediums and definitions.
What is transitory art? As the founders and directors of MoTA, we are asked this question often. Like in the Little Prince, we have an answer ready for adults: transitory art is the convergence of new media art and contemporary art, the convergence of analog and digital, and art that captures the transitional mode of the present moment. But for others, the answer lies somewhere else. There is no definition that would satisfy us, because in practice and in theory, we always find something that doesn’t fit in. In fact, I left Cyprus knowing transitory art does not need a definition.
Our museum started because we wanted to build a museum for us, a museum that would reflect the present; and transitory art is art that defies definitions – a museum that happens on the streets when like-minded people meet and collaborate, open-endedly, an artistic collective that is fluid, and dynamic, that responds and reflects, that changes its mission and methodology so that it responds to the situations we want to address, a museum of art that is in a constant search for the uncertain and the undefined. The introductory essays respond to the question “What is transitory art?”, opening the way for some of the possible answers, yet still not creating borders where there aren’t any. Written by our close collaborators, who work with us closely on both conceptual and practical levels, these contributions are an invaluable source for reflections on the facets of transitory art.
The second part of this publication is organised as an overview of concrete projects related to TRIBE. TRIBE was conceived as an experimental platform that would connect like-minded organisations in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, with the aim of creating a shared residency network, a collaborative approach to curating, and a platform for international co-productions. Projects were selected through an open call and by invitation. Roughly twenty artists and researchers participated in the residency program, while more than fifty others participated in different TRIBE activities.
The second part thus includes projects that were conceived and produced for TRIBE residencies (Azahara Cerezo, Ohira + Bonilha, Petko Dourmana, Flemming and Swintak); projects that are older, but respond to the aims of TRIBE (Jan Vormann, Nik Nowak, Nuria Guell, Société Réaliste, Karina Smigla-Bobinski); and projects that remained only project ideas or were not yet fully realised (Flemming and Swintak, Markus Jeschaunig, Gabey Tjon A Tham). They are presented in diverse ways – some as drafts, concepts and diaries, others as conversations, essays and visual documentation. The selection includes artists working in all media, and its editorial approach supports the diversity of artists and their ideas.
This is not a textbook on transitory art practices, it is rather a mind map that could lead to any possible answer. Like in our previous edition, the Outerviews,
the selection is personal. Artists that we respect and admire. Artists that we would like to see in our museum of the present moment, of life, of the streets. Artists that tell us more about life than the news.