The history of Western Art is dominated by the authority of the Artist. When he paints a tree it is him who is considered to be the ‘true genius’, not the tree itself, effectively making it seem as if the art created by the artist is merely a form of mediation between object and subject. We believe it is time for this form of Artist — with the Artist-as-God, the artist as ‘true genius’ — and, consequently, this form of Art, to die.
Indeed. Without trees, artists can neither paint nor write. Nor can they breathe, or think, or live. The very possibility for us to become what we are is provided to us by the tree, as well as by that on which the tree itself susbsists on: air and water. But as industrialized and civilized human beings we are destroying the sine qua non of life as we know it. It is on a once unimaginable scale that we are now polluting air, poisoning water — living as if infinite economic growth is a given on a finite planet. But it is not. And if we do not stop living this self-perpetuating lie, life on earth has no future.
It is with conviction that we call on artists to speak out against the insanity we call ‘civilisation’. This implies taking full responsibility not only of what we want to be as individuals but what makes our existence in general possible. What gives artists the right to believe they, and they alone, are the ones doing the creating? Perhaps they are only cleverly re-creating. Tapestry, wallpaper, decoration are all fine crafts in themselves, but art’s myopic focus on such re-creation obscures the ideological backdrop against which creation is possible as such. It is by first losing our connection with reality – the tree, the air and the water, the soil and the sun – that we can move on to destroy the connections between the vital parts of this reality. And without these connections we have no future.
The art of photography could be rethought as something that does not represent the Artist as god, by which we mean his almost absolutely and exclusively narcisisstic human supremacist form of (non)existence that actually means the destruction of the future of every living being on this planet.
What would art be, if our art history would have taken into account not only all the forms of creativity we as human beings are capable of but also all of the forms of creativity all the other living beings are capable of? Like the clean water we drink and are dependent upon and without which we couldn’t have created anything at all, and without which we can’t create anything at all. like our body that exists mainly of water. like the water that we keep on poisining in our quest for greed and complete hatred of others whom we murder when we poison their water. And our own future if we keep on doing it like we are doing it.
Why? Because we say only human beings are capable of True Genius and we as human beings should collect this so called true genius in careless disregard of what we choose to not see and not look at, the genius of Life Itself: over and over again we seem to fail to see the importance and utter beauty of what it is we are destroying.
In this project we want to proclaim the Water-as-Artist. The photographic form could be seen merely as a form of expression of gratitude and humbleness to try to force the history of western art what it chooses not to see. the creative genius of everything that is not human but without which humans couldn’t live and would have never lived and be anything at all, let alone these creatures who claim to be better artists than the Water and the Air while they are poisining every drinkable source while doing just that. Registrating the art the Water-as-Arist produces could also be seen among other things as a form of communicating the joy and responsibilty one feels to show what true artists are capable of:
the true Artists being the sunlight refracted on the waves of a river, a reflection of a reed, the unimaginable beauty of the reflection in the water of the Amsterdam Canals. These are the true artists. It is not me, nor is it the technique being used. On the contrary, the ‘true Genius’ is the water, creating these pictures of undiscribable beauty. I’m merely it’s servant. And I enjoy my servitude. For it brings me back to reality, to the reality of life that I depend upon. To the reality of the water I depend upon.
Manifesto written by Mara Jonsson & Freek Spijkerman and edited by Federico Lafaire