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– Rock The Boat

Press release 1.9. 2003
Rock The Boat –
Localised Ethics, the Situated Self and Particularism in Contemporary Art

By Tere Vadén & Mika Hannula
Published by Salon Verlag, Cologne
September 2003


As the globalisation of economic and political ideologies accelerates, in contemporary art as in many other fields, it becomes increasingly important to consider both our ethical responsibilities and the idea of the local.

Rock the Boat explores the practices of ethics and contemporary art in relation to local situations. The authors offer a concept of locality that means far more than simple situation in time and space, and argue for a new, localised ethics that is open, reflective and self-critical, formulated in specific situations in response to everyday political questions and individual choices. These ideas are developed through discussions of works by artists including Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Ghada Amer, Matti Braun, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Esko Männikkö, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Santiago Sierra, Superflex and Roi Vaara.

The idea of locality needs to be formulated in a radically hermeneutic way, paying attention to lived experience, and it is here that the practices of contemporary art and reflective thinking about ethics can inform each other. The claim is that a mortal, finite and situated self, with an openness towards its own locality, can think and act ethically. What is needed is a focus on the complexities and never-ending conflicts and contradictions that exist within, as well as between, localities, and the aim is to bring the discourse back to problems and challenges at the local level.

“The task is to think through, in a critical yet constructive way, a new version of locality?especially in terms of the practices of ethics and contemporary art. At the same time, we see this as a process that forces us to rethink and renegotiate our own positions. We are on the move, and definitely not yet anywhere close to arriving. So, instead, we are rocking the boat that we are travelling in.”

Tere Vadén is Professor of Hypermedia at the University of Tampere, Finland, and a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Skövde, Sweden.
Mika Hannula is the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland

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