Dialogical Art

In Building Conversation, we take our place in an artistic tradition called ‘Dialogical Art’, which derives from the ‘Soziale Plastik’ or ‘social sculpture’ of the influential German artist Joseph Beuys. This was the concept Beuys used to label society as a whole as shaped by its members. The reorganisation of this society into an inclusive coexistence, which Beuys considered to be an urgent matter, was to devote itself fundamentally to questions of education, economy and manners, peace and ecology. According to Beuys, art is responsible and is competent to carry out this work as ‘extended art’ and he emphasised that ‘Art is in my opinion the only evolutionary force. This means that conditions can only be changed by human creativity’. By means of his now renowned statement that ‘Everyone is an Artist’, Beuys underlined his faith in the possibility of everyone taking part in these creative tasks.

Over the last few decades, inspired in part by Beuys’ work, many different art practices have developed in which the conversation itself is presented as an artwork and/or the artwork is in itself a dialogue. Whereas for some the term ‘dialogical art’ may give the idea that it is consensus-oriented work that seeks harmony, we want to emphasise that to us dialogue is first and foremost agonistic: where opposition is tolerated and room is made for differences. Inclusion, which Beuys also referred to, is not intended to smooth things over or make them harmonious. The inclusive society to which we are pleased to contribute through our work makes room for difference and precisely for that reason is surprising and challenging.