In today’s contemporary art context, artists are increasingly pressured to become entrepreneurs, maintain an active art practice, and to engage in a dominant value system. At the same time, artists are often expected to provide social criticism and even imagine alternative economic and value systems. The stereotypical figure of the artist as a disruptor, trouble-maker, or emotionally disturbed creative—often confined to some conventional margin of society—are themes that all speak of an assumed relationship between art, creativity and turmoil. But what about the relationship between art and turmoil when it is used to bring clarity to the world? Don’t these rules, systems and prescribed methods (for instance, that art must contest, disturb, upset, or disrupt) also blur reality?
These questions lead us to consider artistic practice as a range of methods that each, in turn, produce their own systems of knowledge. Art as a way of understanding the world, of generating meaning from the otherwise disordered elements of reality or through a reordering of its current categories. One of the values of turmoil, one could argue, lies in the agitation it provokes—in other words, it makes us vulnerable but also open to new perspectives. Agitation isn’t just something that is caused, it is also felt. More reactionary than contentious, it stems from a feeling of anxiety that leads to a form of introspection and self-criticism, a moment of suspension.
Through its singular relationship with artistic practice, VCA is uniquely positioned to foster creative processes that involve a negotiation between art and its presentation context, as well as the transformation of artistic intention through the emotional (turbulent) impact of its implementation. Often, art absorbs this turbulent force during its production, but sometimes the turmoil resurfaces once the work is publicly presented, like a barely audible dissonance or a wrong note, gone too soon to be clearly identified. Where does turmoil come from and what position(s) should we adopt in the face of it? Is it related to the notion of systems (values), rules (functioning), or conventions (aesthetics)? What are its effects, its values, and how do we react in its absence? Must we navigate the troubled waters that lie beyond our accepted frames of reference? Does the desire to establish rules stem from an imperative need for landmarks? How does turmoil insinuate itself in artistic practice or artworks? What measures do artists use to either exacerbate or de-crease it?