A European network meets the need of being based
on a conceptual plan. It was the goal of the third great meeting of
the network, held in Linz in July 1999. It was the director of the
OK Centrum, Martin Sturm, who set the bases.
The main discussion concerned the very concept of
margins. Is it a question of joining together centres that are
marginal through their geographical position, centres addressing a
certain social marginality, or of marginality as intellectual
positioning and choice of work?
levelling versus differentiation
Martin Sturm posed this alternative from the
start, based on the concept of a "Europe of Regions" and on a point
of view particularly well marked in the countries whose regional
capacity is already strongly differentiated from central capacity:
"The Regions, far from national metropolises threatened with loss
of significance, are treated with incertitude as cultural centres.
The periphery offers, in spite of its incoherence, many starting
points for artistic and scientific creation.
Symposium Edge of Europe. O.K. Centrum
It becomes interesting where it comes into contact
with the world. It is there that oppositions are born, transforming
peripheral zones into fields of confrontation, oppositions between
internationalisation and search for identity, obstinate insulation
and modernisation without limits, religious and genetic
fundamentalism, folk tradition and implementation… However,
these oppositions are only apparent: they are not mutually excluded
but rather conditioned among themselves".
Moreover, he insists on the diversity of this
concept and on the constant phenomenon of recovery or absorption:
"Whoever considers the periphery only in its geographical extent is
limited! Peripheries always have a historical, social, economic and
artistic dimension, for metropolises do not develop their creative
and cultural force due to their economic size or richness. Their
force lies in the permanent absorption of the best resources of the
periphery. From the obligatory daily confrontation with the other
arise fresh impulses. The centralised control organisations that
follow their own laws and mechanisms of filtering permanently
sandpaper all angles and differences in order to produce a mixture
that satisfies the national self-portrait."
effects of networking
Martin Sturm concludes about the evolutionary
characteristics of the bonds that can be created among peripheries:
"If the emancipation of regions from centres goes hand in hand with
a setting in network of the peripheral zones with certain similar
aspects, the diversity of cultural backgrounds can yield new
potentials. A transverse organisation enables the differentiation
of qualities specific to each area and the comparison to others,
appeared under similar conditions.
Art and landscape centre of
Vassivière en Limousin, France.
Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre,
architects. Photo Jacques Hoepffner
This is because peripheral zones have, in addition
to their provincial narrow character always deplored by
metropolises, a larger opening to certain external influences.
Peripheries always serve as crossroads and bonds. As the pressure
of assimilation is lighter, they can preserve an identity which is
rawer, but also more mobile and more flexible. It is only in one
diversified structure that does not seek to level this variety that
new associations and different combinations can be born."
These theoretical foundations, put in perspective
during the discussions of the symposium, made it possible to
restart the network on new widened bases while proposing as the
next topic "Islands and Endgrounds (Finistères), or the
circulation of works and artists to the margins of Europe."
C'Hybert rallye, 3 and 4 November 2001.
Contemporary Art Centre of Vassivière en Limousin.
the car of Frédéric Vaisen. Photo Pierre
The meeting of the network took place in 2000,
with CREDAC in Ivry in the Parisian suburbs and in
Vassivière en Limousin, within the framework of the Campaign
"Europe, a common heritage". It gathered more than forty art
centres by privileging six Central and Eastern European countries:
the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the
Beyond discoveries that constituted the
presentations of the work of certain centres really located at the
periphery of a widening Europe, the network of the "Arts Centres of
Europe" perfectly affirmed its place within a framework of European
identity. Cross exhibitions and reception of artists in residence
are now the heart of its evolution.
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