KunstWerk e.V
ehem. Kunstschalter e.V
In the 70ties, Joseph Beuys defines the idea of a social sculpture, to describe an enlarged Conception of art, aiming to build an collective, democraticand creative space, in which our lives can be created in a new way. The idea and
in this context combined practice with social plastic has been supported by many artists. Since this time artists all over the world started to hold up Beuys? Idea of social and ecological initiatives and made up projects stressing the subject of democratic functions. 1 didn't want to invent something new with the "Bangkok meets Cologne" project. 1 wanted to connect the works of
artists belonging to different cultures and to weave a ribbon combining two cultures. This is not meant as an alternative role modell of the actual art scene, but rather more as an additional experiment.
The wish to belong to a community, instead of lonely artwork and the ability to connect different things always has been a risk and challenge for me. To see, how the individual in a group with its unique and pragmatic character, is forming the community at the base of social interaction, using social acting as flexible and self-determinationed activity. Knowledge instead of science, away from classic disciplines, laboratory-like-situation and interdisciplinarily in Cross Over, High and Low - that all connected with each other creates something new and vivid. So is Production, like the product, to bind nets and to keep people and work together: Collaborative environment's, unideological, without style, temporary, self-controlled with changements. The "We" for team-spirit, in the classic way is getting lost. The individual keeps its own personality and character in the group: The single will not drown as an individual in the group. In the contrary.. The individual starts in the group and will later form it to something new. The social interest will either substitute politics, capitalism or this terms will have another sense. Located to the concret live-circumstances, the group will be lead to pragmatic agitation. Not looking for artbasics or statues, it is a summary of ideas and arrangements, transposing, interposition, intercession, complex and multimedial. So offers "Bangkok meets Cologne" - like other of my passed projects - the necessity to open the views for other cultures, which differ in religion or habits for example. The discussions of the artists among each other, pushed religious and politic themes in the background. The main issues
during this social exchange have been tolerance and acceptation. Fulfilling the duties of a host 1 tried to organise a couple of enchantments like visiting museums and galleries, a sightseeing-tour in Cologne or a trip in a thermal bath. The group should have the possibility to get in touch with everything that convened. Improvement of social Communication on a non-verbal level is part of my intention. Moreover it is my intention to treat artprojects as a first step to economical behaviour. The experimental, not predictable aspect is a further stimulus.
It is par of the process to influence at this level, contents, methods and aesthetic aspects. In this system 1 prefer to work with institutions. The medial and education-political capital of institutions make it possible with its culture-position in the society to find a quicker and less official way to higher positions. To present parts of the exhibition "Paper Works of Thailand"
was another condition for the flow of the project. To organise in this way means in our days to use the complexity of media and to have the choice between Scyla and Charibdis. The necessity of that in the starting process is sometimes difficult to communicate. Art in public space is more than decoration or capitalism: It takes position, goes in situations, starts out to be an experiment at events. The conditions and structure of art production and its presentation in work of progress are opened. The group decides by itself which way it goes and where it applies its standards. In Cologne especially friendship wove a strong ribbon to keep the group together: Questions and chats, to see, to find out, to eat, to draw, to film and to sing, to go shopping and swimming together.
It is still to be proved that human beings need to be in a pack and that the individual is able to find this spirit in its mind. If this is the case and if this is reflected in its soul it will get connected in an intelligent way with others. This means for the project to live without usual habits, being flexible and to sustain instabilities. So it is important for me to build a distinctive kind
of strong frame. In addition of my good co-operation with Vichoke Mukdamanee from the Silpakorn University in Bangkok and the support from KunstWerk e.V., 1 have had to find financial funds. The Cologne Culture Office and the international Goethe Institute and the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen helped us to realise the project.
The qualifications of the artists from Cologne for this concept rounded everything up. Their possibilities as individuals in Cologne helped as well as that they were used to perform in front of an interested audience and that they already have been working in different socialcultural projects. Mrs. Marie H?Ilenkr?mer, the head of the office Culture, and Mr. Kaspar K?nig, the director of WallrafRichartz-Museum, did anything to make our guests feel home at Cologne. 1 may thank all sponsors and cooperation-partners by heart for their effort and their help to realise this international exchange project. The experiment to connect the international exchange and art, cultural dialogue on a high level between Asia and Europe and to build bridges of friendships between artists started with this meeting in Cologne happily.
My desire is more realisation of international social-cultural projects which will create more acceptance for each other.
Uli Eichhom
October 2001