Thuistezien 104 — 05.11.2020
In early 2018 a one-day symposium took place on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Ethics into Aesthetics’ by Gustav Metzger (1926-2017), at which several speakers talked and discussed about his work, philosophy and legacy. Metzger’s entire oeuvre is determined by his writings and thus his manifestos form the cornerstones of his radical impact on art, art history and society. Not only did he strive for awareness, but his work is also a reflection of the alternative world that he envisioned, and with which he exerted a lasting influence on other contemporary artists and researchers.
Mathieu Copeland (1977), an independent curator and writer, was one of the speakers at the symposium and dealt with the subject 'Auto-Creative Art: Liquid Crystal Environment', discussing Metzger's writings on and creation of auto-creative work with 'Liquid Crystal Environment' as starting point. The notion of auto-creative art is inseparably linked to auto-destructive art, which was introduced in Metzger's first manifesto in 1959 and simultaneously characterises the prism through which his work is mainly considered, i.e. that of auto-destruction. The combination of theoretical thoughts and radical philosophy have nearly always been the motive for his artistic experiments, just as these two dimensions are the core of the exhibition. He describes auto-creative art as follows: "In this art form, as in Auto-Destructive Art, time, space, motion, metamorphosis and sound have a different far more important role in the conception, construction and appreciation of the work […].” Through this radically new art form he reflected on how society could be (self-)destroyed by capitalism. Not only the political system, but also the commercial aspects of for example the art world were approached critically, as he himself was hoping for a collapse and total restructuring of the art system.