Towards a matrix of cultural production
It is our argument that as cultural producers we operate within a matrix of cultural production. In this matrix, the meaning of cultural artefacts is never fixed, but always remains tentative and contested; meanings are continuously being worked on and are being reworked. In this sense, cultural producers are intervening in cultural and social meaning production. Such interventions need not only take into account the social and cultural contexts in which they are introduced, but also have to scrutinize which publics are involved in the process of cultural production – and aim at involving participation of these publics in their interventions. Culture in its relation to society cannot be produced – or better: realised – by a singular person. Understanding the “product” of cultural production as a result of making meaning and pondering on its consequences for everyday life, specific publics have to be integrated into the negotiation of an alternate meaning or perspective. Ideally this is to be done in an active approach and through ways to promote a kind of social acceptance. Thus understood, projects of cultural production entail the possibility to question established ways of thinking, raise awareness of processes of stereotyping and finally counteract mechanisms of exclusions. We argue that this can only be accomplished as a collaborative process: a process of public negotiation and co-producing – often initiated, supervised and mediated by artists and cultural entrepreneurs.
In order to involve publics like artists, managers, audiences, citizens, journalists or politicians in cultural productions, new ways, forms and principles of communicating with each other are necessary. We assume that this is one of the greatest challenges in the whole process: breaking down boundaries set by hierarchical arrangements or/ and legal authority, determining one’s strategies of intervention, using participatory marketing and relying on civil engagement. All of these practices have emerged as integral parts of successful and innovative cultural processes.
While many projects in the field of cultural production are aiming for participation, sustainability and social change, this is an on-going challenge, often times resulting in failure or dissatisfaction. So how can processes of participation, sustainability and transformation towards social change be set into motion and be supported through instances of cultural production? Which competences are necessary for a competent participation in the cultural resources of society against the background of unequal power relationships? How can these be made possible and stimulated? How do all the nodes in the matrix of cultural production relate to and influence each other? How can conscious interventions in the cultural circuit be made? More specifically we are asking: at which particular nodes are a reflective intervention and processes of participation needed, so that culture can actively and sustainably be co-produced? And what kind of approaches, artistic practices and strategies need to be developed and initiated in order to successfully integrate and involve local communities and various publics in these processes? These are only some of the questions that we are concerned with in this project.