Debates & Credits

Media Art in the Public Domain

Debates & Credits was a Russian / Dutch art and media project which has invited four artists and artist collectives from Russia and four from The Netherlands to develop interventionist (media-) art works for the public space.

The project happened in three stages:
Amsterdam, September 11 - 22
Yekaterinburg, September 26 - 29
Moscow, October 7 - 13

About Debates & Credits:

"Debates & Credits" is an attempt to find possibilities for artists to enter into a direct dialogue with mass audiences by intervening with a series of artist projects in public space; both the physical public space as well as the public space of the media. The project aims to mobilise the creative potential of art, which is a priori based on a critical attitude to reality, to find appropriate tools for artistic invention that can address problems of life in contemporary society by means of electronic media.

For "Debates and Credits" 4 artists / collectives from the Russian Federation and 4 artists / collectives from the Netherlands have been invited to develop art projects that operate at the intersection of media and public space. These artists represent a new generation that is no longer interested in the heritage of the former "underground" in the east, or the anaemic neo-conceptual art spaces of the west. The new generation concerns itself much rather with media, with the dilapidation of the cityscape, streets and facades littered with aggressive advertisement campaigns, which particularly in the streets of Moscow have acquired a "special quality of their own". This generation is no longer satisfied with clinical spaces, isolated art spaces disconnected from the rest of society. They seek new places where they can manifest their presence: electronic media - television and internet -, billboards, advertisement campaigns, posters, public space and urban architecture, are transformed into new surfaces and media that can carry their poetic and political messages.

Electronic media permeate virtually every aspect of contemporary social life. They are so deeply ingrained in the body of society that they start to act as an organ, the equivalent for the social organism of the circulatory system for the biological body. But the information flows transmitted by these media channels do not have to be the ordinary digestible, tranquillising,. mixture of daily news, advertising, and entertainment. They can also carry disturbing alien ingredients...... These may be viruses, or rather injections of vital antidotes. Contemporary artists are nowadays equipped with a wide spectrum of tools, starting with new media technologies, and ending with a much more valuable critical attitude, creative potential, and a highly developed set of conceptual tools.

The realisation of the artists' projects takes many forms. The "Debates & Credits" project is going to be an "expropriation of the expropriated". This reversal is sought for by means of the same PR and business technologies that attempt to seize public attention and opinion at large.

Surprisingly, it now seems a natural and even logical development, how the language of mass propaganda has passed through various stages of transformation in Russia and the former USSR; from avant-garde AGITPROP of social action, via the monumental style of communist proclamations of "the right way to the enlightened future", to the insane optimism of slogans and faces represented by the fictions of commercial advertising or election-campaigns. Meanwhile in the Western frame entertainment politics have long become the standard model of political discourse (Reagan, Clinton, Berlusconi, Fortuyn). The question how to make words and images work for the distribution of ideals, ideologies, products, or politicians, is reduced to a purely technical problem. A problem that can easily be resolved with the implementation of smart PR techniques.

Our question to artists and activists is how they can reappropriate the advanced communication tools of the mainstream P.R. technologists, and put them to the advantage of genuine human concerns, use them as a creative outlet... What art can offer instead of, or in addition to, political and advertising assurances? DEBATES & CREDITS will explore new hybrid tactics, developed often beyond the context and aesthetics of visual arts. Led by centrifugal forces, these tactics tend to explode the structure of information consumption from the inside.

Tania Goryucheva (Moscow)
Eric Kluitenberg (Amsterdam)

Project website (archived):