7th ISTANBUL BIENNIAL 2001
21 Sep - 17 Nov 2001
Fugue from Ego for the Next Emergence
21 September - 17 November 2001
Ana Maria Tavares
(Federico Guzman, Carolina Caycedo, Raimond Chaves, Adriana Garcia)
David Noonan & Simon Trevaks
EXONEMO (Yae Akaiwa, Kensuke Sembo)
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
Fuat Şahinler & Murat Şahinler & Ahmet Soysal
Jane and Louise Wilson
Kim Young Jin
Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset
Mika Taanila & Matti Suuronen
Ömer Ali Kazma
SANAA (Kazuya Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa)
Yang Fu Dong
Three elements, 'man', 'money' and 'materialism', which played key roles in the progress and development of 20th century civilization and which simultaneously spawned considerable problems and sickness, will eventually be replaced with new essentials. While coping with the problems inherited from the previous century, new directions will be sought to ensure spiritual and real-life survival. Our quest will naturally lead us to the new elements of 'collective consciousness', 'collective intelligence' and 'co-existence'.
In making the transition from three elements, we come to rethink the key concept, the modern ego. In the 20th century, where individual egos and personal freedom were pursued, various problems such as ultimate materialism, avarice, competition, and ethnic conflicts were created as the result of self-centeredness.
To overcome these problems, we pose this question: How can we liberate ourselves from our egos? Buddhism offered one answer through its philosophy of selflessness, and thus, elimination of ego. However, to modern people, who have lived in the age of individualism, the Self is the important core of being that cannot be denied.
How can we liberate ourselves from our egos while maintaining self-esteem? I coined the term egofugal to embrace this contradiction. The term is a combination of ego and fugal in Latin. Fugal is also an English adjective for the fugue, a style of music wherein an original melody is gradually transformed, pursued by its counterparts. Egofugal is an unfamiliar word, weighted down by the existence of ego; at the same time, implying the lightness and rhythm intrinsic to moving away from the ego, transforming oneself just like a fugue, creating new life and a new source of significance.
There is a clear global trend toward the search for connections beyond the limitations of individual existence. 'For the Next Emergence' springs from chaos theory, which is also used to explain biological evolution. Chaos theory reveals that in the process of biological evolution, when a major transformation (for instance, from inanimate to animate existence and from unicellular to multicellular creatures) occurs, unexpected structures and functions emerge out of random possibilities in order to support a more complex system.
The concept of ego, the modern self, has been based on a unit of the individual body with a central nervous system. The ego in modern Western history, has developed based upon the supposition that each human body is individually complete. Humanity, however, has reached saturation and limitation within the framework of this individualism and modern ego. Spiritual isolation and loss, environmental contamination, and segregation from the rest of the ecosystem (leading to, for instance, the extinction of other species) warn us to reorganize ourselves beyond individual existence for the next emergence.
Art is an individual act of politics to influence the public and transform human consciousness and vision. Artistic expression itself refers to the very spiritual basis of what one believes in. For example, plastic creation in space has been the center of Western visual art. Conversely, creation in the framework of time was more focused and developed in the East. In each moment, and in the action itself, lies eternal creation. The two forms of art have interacted and created new art forms in space and time through infinite exchanges, made possible by developments in technology and transportation. The ways and forms of the new art influence human consciousness and develop secret networks at the deepest level of consciousness. From the field of shared collective consciousness, a new significance of the world emerges. This is in fact the next emergence.
A shift from 'connecting to a large central system' to 'networking between smaller units' is seen in the development of artificial intelligence. Instead of connecting into a central mother computer with a vast memory, more possibilities are apprehended through a neutral networking model, utilizing smaller units to communicate with others and producing more significant relationships.
Globalization, in which we try to connect with world information and economies through the Internet & the information revolution, and trans-border & interdisciplinary movements are only inklings of the next emergence. What will transform these movements into the real next emergence will not be the modern ego but egofugal being.
Egofugality liberates us from the ego, while maintaining self-esteem. By freeing and distancing ourselves from the ego, we may be able to share a common field of consciousness with others. This is different from the conventional definition of selflessness. Here, individuality is valued while respecting others and sharing a magnetic field of consciousness. We may illustrate this relationship through the analogy of archipelagoes. Archipelagoes are independent islands, though they partake a shared identity as a common grouping. It dissociates itself from religious organizations, group mentalities seen in conventional small local communities, and from Asian mass mentality. Egofugality should engender self-consciousness and awareness of exchange at higher intellectual levels.
Four forms of separation from the ego
The new term, egofugalism, continues to reveal abundant significance. It includes, for example, Conjugation, in which creatures interchange genes to prevent aging and revitalize weakened states, is a very strong interaction in exchanging life forces.
Intelligent collaboration in a broader sense, as in mutual exchange through transportation, and the formation of combined cultures, is also included. Mobility and immigration revive moving bodies and lands of destination. A crucial caveat would be not to exploit anyone or any place involved and not to develop hierarchy of power.
One form of separation from ego is Sleep, an absent state of self-consciousness. It includes conditions of consciousness suspended, for instance, by prayer and meditation. The paradox of sleep is that it appears to be a helpless condition without intelligence or will, but it can also be seen as an absolute state.
We can search visible information on the Internet to the ends of the world. The amount of information and its superficiality makes us feel empty and exhausted. Instead of being connected into the world of consciousness, we may be able to find ourselves in the vast field of collective consciousness in the world of sleep away from our senses. This may also be construed as an act of giving since an unconscious self is offered without defense to the world or to others.
Other forms of separation from the ego are Skills of art and pure technology. Crafts and traditional apprenticeships are passed down from individuals. Now, technology contributes more to form imagination and ethics than do artworks. In times where craftsmen and artists were not clearly separated, the work itself, rather than the name of the artist, spoke eloquently. In the same way, excellent works that influence the consciousness of the viewer will be evaluated regardless of what genre - fashion, architecture, design, or crafts in which they may reside.
The fourth form of separation is Myth, a world-enveloping structure that exceeds the individual. It is not an isolated metaphor to represent daily life, but rather the interconnected world of extraordinary imagination and allegory. It is not limited to conventional human stories. Myth includes particular situations, such as the absence of visual and/or auditory senses, and involves the senses and worlds of different bodily organizations, such as robots, cyborgs, and other species. Metaphor is very human. On the other hand, allegory is often unfeasible, superhuman, and inhuman. Allegory in the context of egofugality is new myth created by egofugal beings and separates itself from that of the modern ego.
The 7th International Istanbul Biennial suggests various visions and strategies for survival in the 21st century by combining Western individualism and the methodology of intelligent collaboration with Eastern wisdom comprising the sharing of consciousness and co-existence with nature. At this crossroad between Western and Eastern cultures, in this topos fertilized by historical and near chaotic transactions, a map of significance clearly emerges to present the future.
Egofugality may possibly include other multiple elements, significances and interpretations than the above four aspects. It is not selflessness, or self-sacrifice, or compromise. Egofugality is a worldview in the three "c" visions verified by strong, egofugal subjects. The 7th International Istanbul Biennial will emerge by involving the audience's consciousness through works which propose all of the aforementioned potentials.