// 28 January – 3 February 2013
// Various venues, Berlin
THEME: THE GOLDEN AGE
Under the conditions deployed by digital culture, globalization and postmodernism, that which has always been key aspirations and promise of art and pop culture now fully unfolds: unleashed subjectivity and an unharnessed imaginary meet the wide public acceptance of its diverse forms of expression. Those manifest not so much as essential originality but rather as the products of continuous processes of self-design based on the ad lib appropriation and transformation of an eclectic or syncretic range of resources.
Against this backdrop, today’s music presents itself as more diverse than ever before, and never before have the listeners’ ears been so receptive. This “anything goes” situation, barely constrained by canons, technological limitations or gatekeeper authorities, fosters what appears to be a paradisical flowering of fully realized creative potential: The Golden Age. Its hallmark is a kind of ubiquitous eclecticism or syncretism, that equally characterizes contemporary art music, pop-cultural niches and remnants of the mainstream, and brushes aside tired differentiation between high and low.
Today, we all can draw from an increasing abundance of material just waiting to be sourced. Given that art and music are accumulative because past forms cede to new developments yet continue to exist, all that ever happened is up for grabs in the present. If nothing is ever discarded then everything is a potential resource; even what was once considered waste now is recycled as cultural artifacts. Re-contextualisation, pastiche, montage, anachronism, recombination, paradox, fusion and morphing are just some of the tools and methods applied.
Such eclecticism serves personal growth and survival strategies in equal measure. Eclectic approaches rely on the originality of the materials and methods employed. Marginality thereby becomes the dominant principle. That which initially appears to be the manifestation of long-fought-for creative freedom therefore quickly also reveals its shadow side: competition for the limelight, narcissism, “tumblerization”, redundancy, unfair appropriation, sterility, or superficial “Facebook-referentiality” are just some of the catchwords up for discussion. Consequently, not all artists optimistically welcome the explosion of aesthetic diversity on the digital matrix, or the opportunities for recombination it affords them. By radically restricting themselves to a limited range of source material and strictly defined methods, or by stubbornly working through meticulous variations on long since established styles, such artists swim against the current, even when their work thereby turns out no less eclectic than anyone else’s. Likewise notable is a growing attentiveness to analog processes in real materials, in which entropy and decay are positioned against the supra-temporality of the digital.
Eclecticism respectively syncretism has been a base credo for the CTM Festival since the get-go, and this year will be no different. Under the consciously polemic and glistening, ambivalent theme The Golden Age, we’ll investigate artistic approaches to the contemporary cornucopia and the yawning chasms it hides, and simultaneously reflect critically on our own curatorial practice. How best to distinguish between fruitful and sterile eclecticism? Which perspectives are required to establish criteria that foster a broader discourse? And how to move towards new forms of sharing and communication from this molecular aesthetic? The terms tension, intensity and friction give a hint of eventual answers that will be explored further in the concert, exhibition and discourse programs.