Life is short, art remains


Mega-retrospectives, futuristic museum buildings, biennials, triennials, blockbuster exhibitions, gallery weekends and sensational auction records – what remains of the era of the art boom and its sales records?

Climate change as an entertainment program

The CO2 emissions generated by these events seemed negligable in view of the eagerness with which contemporary artistic positions were to be explored worldwide. Basel, Miami, Venice, London, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai – a must to be there to follow the works of the universal masters, the Richter paintings, Koons sculptures and Ai Wei Wei‘s installations.

More burning questions, whether Venice is sinking, the Acropolis is crumbling or the tombs of the Pharaohs are being plundered, were ignored. At least they did not cause any significant change of mind or behavior. Rather, the impression was created that, with a certain elitist fatalism, it was personally important to become eyewitnesses to their world-historical decay.

The Anthropocene: The age of geological history shaped by man

In this age of climate change, is the eternal character of humanity’s testimonies at stake? Or does the COVID-19 crisis only mean the end of the hype around the art market, because its financially strong audience is withdrawing to secluded estates, luxury yachts or private islands? Does art now seem so worthless that it is no longer necessary to hand over these human wonders to posterity intact, because the planet is becoming uninhabitable for humans anyway?

Cultures develop even in crises

In recent months, one could observe that the production of art and ideas was by no means in lockdown. Artists took advantage of this sudden calm in the otherwise hyper-nervous art business to fill up their creative reservoirs. Here, the artistic avant-garde no longer focuses on people, but on the vulnerability of our planet.

Nature and the destructive human intervention become the main theme

People think about making art without destroying natural resources. As a consequence exemplary projects of creating climate-neutral dwellings in urban biotopes are growing. One builds back. Environmentally protected areas are expanded and turned over to their own natural balance. Concrete palaces of the star architects of yesterday are being torn down. The lockdown showed that the sudden calm in the ruins of industrialization is even allowing wild plants and animals to reappear. Life forms that were thought to be already extinct.

Interdisciplinarity and creativity

The hype about the artistic ego is out. Research-orientied artists and scientists are working together to develop CO2-neutral, cooperative forms of living and working in the renaturalized urban landscape or in a near-natural environment. Socio-political issues related to sustainable art production are coming into focus. Art projects focus on the experience of nature to change consciousness within the consumer society. Future-oriented sustainability as an interdisciplinary content is in the foreground in order to combine ethical categories with technological progress.

Globalization on the retreat

In the age of globalization, a young, educated middle class has emerged, which, without neglecting the global perspective of migration and worldwide supply chains, is developing its own local, individual living environments in the awareness of sustainability. In this crisis, the inspiring diversity of the established art scenes is once again being perceived. But even before this, people have resisted the supposed philanthropic donation of artworks of the international jet-set in centuries-old idiosyncratic public places.

Credibility through accountability

The disruptive fantasies of globally active investors who destroy grown structures without local accountability and responsibility are now met with suspicion. The COVID-19 crisis clearly showed in the creative professional fields that the neoliberal thesis, according to which the market eliminates inequalities or even gets crises under control, belongs to the past. It is obvious that market manipulation and speculation in the art market prevent diversity and innovation. These problematic developments are man-made.

Art and culture as basic needs

Without public financial support for artists, art production would have come to a complete standstill. In the neoliberal marketplace, ethical categories are often considered an obstacle to the free development of capital-producing forces. But art and culture are basic human needs that build community. They can only arise within a community of solidarity. In addition, they strengthen and integrate communities. The drive and creative motivation for self-determined, enlightened artists is therefore to minimize the resource requirements of their works and to place the preservation of the environment at the center of artistic and social discourse. To replace content-related discussions with ever higher art market prices seems a thing of the past.

Art to save the world

In the European understanding of art and life, a certain eternal character is fundamental. With the beginning of the 21st century, artists see the concern for the preservation of our wonderful planet Earth, its still unexplored diversity and complexity, as a source of inspiration. After centuries of art production in praise of divine and religious experience of the world, today this means to put the diversity of life and its preservation into the creative center.

It is the scientific-secular, knowledge-oriented experience of the world that motivates man to humbly withdraw himself.

Man does not let himself be seduced by fantasies of world domination, but directs his creative drive towards a life without destruction through unbridled consumerism. With a direct participation in creative processes, participative methods of art education and without an ecological footprint, the works of the future are produced.


An ethically educated audience – not followers or users – is an integral part of the artistic processes and the discussions about their content. Art and science, ethical values combined with technological progress make the complicated abstract facts of climate change emotionally tangible for people. An interdisciplinary avant-garde of scientists and artists could thus contribute to a fundamental change in consciousness and behavior in order to save our world.

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