Futurism Today or NOT!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
An Independent Project for ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche 2011
Curated by Thom Sokoloski
Presented by The Distillery Historic District
'Futurism Today or NOT!' examined the artistic originality of the Futurists and how it could be reinterpreted today as a significant artistic movement of humanity’s inventiveness and/or a fleeting simulacrum of an artificial optimism appropriated by the zeitgeist of its times.
Initiated by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti with his Futurist Manifesto in 1909 published on the front page of Paris' Le Figaro, Futurism's impact, driven by the movement's desire for speed of thought and the acceleration of action, made its presence felt throughout Europe, specifically, France, Italy, England and Russia. Though an off-shoot of Cubism, Futurism pushed the envelope further. Interpretating everyday life in geometric and abstract forms was fine but the cult of the machine and industry was what was transforming all apsects of life faster than art and this is what Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, Russolo, Balla and Severini stuck to. All artistic expression had to stay ahead of this transformation, and with a severe and glorified sense of irony, expose its dehumanization of everyday life faster that it could be imagined. Futurism was the modernist fuse that ignited the artistic explosions of the great multi-disciplinary art movements which followed into the 1930's, including Dadaism, Bauhaus, Constructivism, Surrealism, Suprematism, Vorticism, German Expressionism, etc.
The Futurists also faced, more than any other artistic movement, an onslaught of criticism as a result of their eventual ties to Italian Fascism and their glorification of war and misogyny. These cannot be ignored, but at the same time art and politics were never so integrated as they were at the beginning of the 20th Century. Right or wrong-headed, modernism was on the move with unparalleled voraciousness, especially in politics. If Futurism's ideals were driven by the momentum of spectacle, why shouldn't the new politics of Fascism appropriate and steal what they needed until they got their branding together as well? Once Mussolini succeeded in doing this, he broke-off the relationship claiming that Marinetti refused the real violence the Fascists' required to spread and wreak havoc with his urban arditi and rural squadrismos - Marinetti '[is] an eccentric buffoon who wants to play politics and whom no one in Italy, least of all me, takes seriously'. The challenges artists and the momentum of their creative forces faced during the rise of Naziism, Fascism and Communism in Germany, Austria, Soviet Union, Spain and Italy, did not make being an artist comfortable, or sometimes it did, depending on what was needed and not needed from you. Composer Dimitri Shostakovitch's insightful journals while serving under Stalin make for a good read as does Griel Marcus' Lipstick Traces.'
My hope was that 'Futurism Today or NOT!' brought together a group of interested and inspired artists who examined the many artistic and political questions of our past through a mass collective creation that incited a robust dialogue between themselves and their public about our present and future.
Anthony Cristina & Natalie Viecili, Arianne Pollet-Brannen & Rebecca Hannon, Barbara Astman, BellaLuna Benecorpo Community, Christine Lucy Latimer, Dominique Banoun, Enza Iovio, Evoke Movement Dance Theatre, Evond Blake, Heather Hughes, Henry Navarro, John Marriot, Kadozuke Kollektif, Kat Citroen, Kevin Bonnici, Kirsten Webb, Larchaud Dance, Marcus Patching, Mladen Ovadija, Nexx Level Dance & Theatre, Nouveau Futurist Art of Noise Group, Paul J. Stoesser, Paula John, Rebecca Leonard, Richard Watts, Saving Us From Destruction, Scenocosme, Sean Smith, Semco Salehi, Shannon Dobbs, Timothy, Scaffidi, Typecast Dance, Victoria Ward, Production by 5th Element.
Artists selected participated by proposing a project which reinterpreted or was inspired by one of the hundreds of multi-disciplinary works created by the Futurists. These may include but are not limited to; Performance Art, Aerial Painting, Advertising, Futurist Cooking, Fashion, Cinema, Cabaret, Media, Art, Sound Art, Exhibition, Photography, Action Painting + Sculpting, Theatre Performance, Dance Performance, Music Constructions + Performance, Poetry + Manifesto Readings, Opera, Architecture, Art Criticism, Journalism, Posters, Archive Reproductions, etc. Please keep in mind that ScotiaBanks's Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour durational visual arts experience! Any work submitted must meet the basic criteria of starting at sunset and ending at sunrise as one individual artwork or as part of a programme of a collective artwork, such as a cabaret-style event inclusive of dance, theatre and music.
The controversies surrounding Futurist politics: