The theme of this eleventh edition of Artefact is The Social Contract. That term has been used in political and philosophical theories since the 17th century, but still emerges regularly today, in interviews with politicians, political party programs and debates. Even the early adopters of the social contract theory, such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, used and interpreted the concept in different ways. The classic interpretation concerns the relation between the individual as a citizen and a political entity, in which the individual sacrifices part of his freedom and power in order for the state to offer safety and social and economic security to the citizen. But what is the position of the social contract in our current times of crisis in a globalized world?
One of the festival’s main questions is whether we can renegotiate or reform those ‘contracts’. Can we cancel them, rewrite them? The programme focuses on different forms of resistance and imagination. With exhibitions, performances, debates and meetings with international artists, we look for the position and alternatives for The Social Contract in our contemporary information and network society.
Irational is a loose grouping of international artists who came together around the server irational.org, founded by the British net artist Heath Bunting in 1996, going on to make decisive contribution to early net art from the mid-1990s onward. They include Daniel G. Andújar (ES), Rachel Baker (UK), Kayle Brandon (UK), Heath Bunting (UK), Minerva Cuevas (MX), Vahida Ramujkic (SR), Kate Rich (AU) en Marcus Valentine (UK).
With dry humor and minimal aesthetics, irational commented on the Internet hype of the mid-to-late 1990s, competing with the commercialization euphoria of the new market by developing its own pseudo-ventures. At that time, net art was very immediate, neither needing nor enjoying the safety of a mediating space or instance. This is why irational often hit upon humorless trademark attorneys, who wanted to keep irational from using brand names such as 7-11, American Express, Sainsburys and Tesco. If the early activities of irational during its “net phase” were dedicated to calling virtual boundaries into question, its members now experiment with interrogating and overcoming economic, political, and social boundaries in real space. The works in the exhibition will partially be selected on the basis of them being a commentary on, or a premonition of, the current financial and economical crisis.
The Wonderful World of irational.org is curated by Inke Arns (Hartware MedienKunstVerein), Jacob Lillemose and Heath Bunting. It’s a smaller version and an update of an exhibition they presented in HMKV in Dortmund in 2006 and that was later also shown in Glasgow and Novi Sad. The exhibiton will often be ‘activated’ by several irational members with live events and workshops.