Lebenskünstler - LeisureArts - Notes

One of the nice things about Lebenskünstler is the way that it resonates with dilettante and slacker and evokes something like "the practioner of conviviality" - all major themes of LeisureArts.

Lebensfreude = joy of living
Lebenskunst = art of living
Lebenskünstler = master of the art of living
via: http://www.heilkunst.com/rebuttal.html [not a useful site]

The word is “Lebenskünstler.” It is a German word and connotes a person who approaches life with the zest and inspiration of an artist, although he or she may not be working recognizably as an artist.
via: http://www.iwwg.com/index.php?section=words [interesting award concept]

Lebenskünstler - chilled-out dude
via: http://www.proz.com/glossary-translations/german-to-english-translations/2 [obviously not very helpful]

Lebenskünstler - someone who knows how to live, survivor, a person who always knows to make the best of things [see our discussion of the bricoleur], bon vivant.
via: http://forum.leo.org/archiv/2005_07/01/20050701115507e_en.html [brief discussion of how to translate]

* Lebenskünstler ("life artist", someone who masters life in a somewhat eccentric way)
* -meister (primarily satirical usage)
via: http://www.hongfire.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2621&page=83 [nothing else relevant]

Oscar Wilde once purportedly said "I put my talent into my work, but my genius into my life." A suitable introduction to this week's entry, Lebenskünstler. Literally translated, it means "life-artist." ... He is a Lebenskünstler. Someone who pieces together his living from various activities that, collectively, bring in just enough money to live. No office, no suit, no boss, no rules. German has a word for such people, and English doesn't. There's even a higher form of Lebenskünstler, and that is the Überlebenskünstler, or "survival artist."
via: http://andrewhammel.typepad.com/german_joys/2006/02/german_word_of_.html [best portion here]

Lebenskünstler - one who recognizes opportunities in life and takes advantage or makes use of those opportunities to make the most out of one's own life; one who lives life deliberately and to the fullest capacity (concept from Henry David Thoreau of “living deep and sucking out all the marrow of life”); one who gambles with the outcome of his/her own life by seizing opportunity; one who makes living an art.

Lebenskunstler - artist of life

Lebenskunstler - an architect of his own achievements
via: http://www.theharmonicaman.net/lebenskunstler.htm [a bit more there - but sourced from a neo-nazi site!]

connoisseur of the art of living - Lebenskünstler {m}
via: http://www.dict.cc/english-german/c264.php [only relevant portion]

Lebenskünstler (life artist): someone who manages to get his living in an eccentric way (such as through piecing together odd jobs, mooching, etc. -- think of Kramer on Seinfeld)
via: http://kellysearsmith.livejournal.com/tag/words [only relevant portion]

Technical Bulletin

Believe it or not, there are people who read this blog on a regular basis!

LeisureArts will be undergoing some changes due to the migration to the new version of Blogger. There will inevitably be some glitches as a result.

We recommend that those of you who do not currently use a blog reader/subscription service (Bloglines, Feedburner, etc.) go ahead and do so. It will make your life much easier. Starting in late September, the posting here will be entering a perpetual cycle of three weeks of no posting followed by a blitz of posting (due to scheduling issues in the Dilettante Ventures empire). Subscribing to this blog will avoid weeks of fruitless searching for new material. Of course some might argue that even new material is a waste of your time...

Lyceum - LeisureArts - Chautauqua

"What shall you do with your leisure? I understand that Chautauqua is trying to answer that question, and to open out fields of thought, to open out energies, a largeness of mind and a culture in the better sense." - President James Garfield, August 1880

In searching for historical models for LeisureArts, we discovered two related movements from the 19th century - the Lyceum movement and the Chautauqua movement. Links will do more to explain what they were/are than we are able to. Although Chautauqua should be noted to be the more apropriate model for our activities and philosophy for its multiple meanings and particularly for its blend of pop culture with "higher" forms of knowledge/learning.

What was Lyceum?

What is/was Chautauqua?

Another take on Chautaqua.

The comprehensive web resource for Chautauqua/Lyceum.

Leisure Team Productions - LeisureArts - The Art of Living

The good folks over at Leisure Team Productions were gracious enough to send us the first chapter of their book Time Off! The Upside to Downtime. It is "The Art of Leisure." The chapter definitely borders on the self-help/pop psychology side of things, but has some decent moments:

"Every hour of overtime is an hour that you don’t spend playing, singing, dancing, learning,or enjoying the company of others. It’s an hour that you’re not spending on an experience that you choose purely for its own sake, whether or not anyone rewards you for it."

"Playing and dabbling are not only hedonistic and relaxing, but can also generate new ideas. All the major arts and sciences, especially the humanities, developed from the creative use of leisure. Constructively used, free time leads to cultural, societal and individual enrichment, all crucial to the evolution of advanced society."

"Leisure isn’t a luxury to squeeze in after taking care of your basic needs. Leisure is a basic need."

The final sentence of this quote could of easily been found on a univeristy wall in France around May '68, or found in one of the early documents of incorporation for LeisureArts:

"When you think in terms of what you might have lived or done, leisure becomes nothing less than crucial. The art of living will never be perfected without practicing the Art of Leisure."


The following message was posted on the NeMe Forum discussion thread regarding the Manifesta 6 debacle:

The Vanity Core that supplies the fuel for the Culture Engine is too big to fit through the Disciplinary Orifice. Dismantle it and send it through in fragments...reassemble it after the work is through.

Best Regards,
the mechanic

...is the new...

This project has been relatively well received and since we're not above self-promotion from time to time, here's a link. (Download the pdf)

The Social Turn - Claire Bishop - Response to LeisureArts

Related LeisureArts posts:
Grant Kester - Artforum - Claire Bishop
Claire Bishop - Aesthetic/Ethical - Critical Modalities
Maria Lind - Tactical/Agnostic - Ted Purves
ARTFORUM - New Art Practices - Cross Pollination

In a recent interview (Socially Engaged Art, Critics and Discontents: An Interview with Claire Bishop), Claire Bishop is asked about the initial LeisureArts response to her much discussed article "The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents." In her answer she displays a fundamental misunderstanding of our position and continues to display a rather conservative notion of what forms of cultural production are valid or "consequential." The full text of the exchange:

Your article stimulated a lot of conversation. One discussion on the Web, in LeisureArts blog, raised a compelling point. The writer said:

I think (Bishop) misses something very important … namely that many of these practices might be better served by not considering them via art critical methodologies at all. There are a number of forms of cultural production that might call for new theoretical tools to interpret properly … I suspect there are many people operating in the domain of art discourse because they have nowhere else to go, even though their interest in connections to an art historical lineage is ancillary at best.

What do you think of this?

CB: I completely agree that turning to other disciplines can help to sharpen our mode of discussion about works of art, particularly those that step into the social arena. Political philosophy and psychoanalysis have helped me to articulate my reservations about the political claims made for relational aesthetics. I am currently looking at sociology as a way to be more precise about the idea of "inclusion" and "participation" in socially engaged art. The task is to bind these ideas together in a discussion of the work’s overall meaning as art.

But what this quote implies – and which I resist very strongly – is the idea that art is the "last place" to go for engagement, that it is the only remaining "free space." This idea is dangerous and lazy. It signals a retreat from the political, rather than the invention and assertion of new territories. It is fine for socially engaged and activist work to operate within the domain of art discourse, providing it also contributes something to that discourse (which actually does have an art historical lineage – think of Situationism, Joseph Beuys, Group Material…). It is comparable to a practice-led PhD: the practical work and the theoretical text both have to be PhD standard, equally important contributions to the field. But if the claims for transdisciplinarity are to be taken seriously, then these projects should also function within other discourses too. The situation I would want to avoid is of inconsequential practices that make no impact on either field.

Notice how she agrees with us before qualifying her answer by declaring our idea "dangerous and lazy." Now obviously being called lazy is hardly something that bothers the LeisureArts team, but dangerous?

To clarify, LeisureArts is not at all interested in "turning to other disciplines to sharpen" discussions of art. As should be clear to regular readers of this blog, art is only interesting to us in that it allows people to escape the rigidity of academic disciplinarity. It offers, rather imperfectly, the "invention and assertion of new territories" that Bishop complains we are retreating from. Her interpretation couldn't be more wrongheaded. We say "imperfectly" precisely because of Bishop's (and many others) continued refusal, or inability to, allow "new territories" to be invented. She argues quite forcefully against it by subsuming hybrid/relational/social/littoral art practices to the dictates of a "PhD standard" and insisting that they contribute to art discourse rather than allowing true "transdisiplinarity" to occur.

Bishop seems to be thinking about either "inter" or "multi" disciplinarity rather than transdisciplinarity. In both of the former iterations, practices and knowledge are exchanged, but disciplinary authority ultimately remains untouched. In transdisciplinary practices, cultural production is not confined to proscribed professional standards, but allowed to be in dynamic flux with regard to form and content of research and activity (these distinctions are informed by Florian Waldvogel's essay "Each One Teach One").

Although we admire Bishop's attempt in "The Social Turn" to challenge the critical orthodoxy around relational art, she really wants to assert and even greater restriction on how to negotiate the complexities of new forms of cultural production. She wants the nature of these activities to be neatly inscribed within existing critical and academic frameworks rather than allowing them to form new networks of meaning, or new forms of thoughtful engagement. Nothing could be clearer than her continual assertions of the importance of rehabilitating these wayward activities "as art." She seeks to contain them, or as she puts it, "The task is to bind these ideas together in a discussion of the work’s overall meaning as art." The use of the word "bind" here is instructive - it means, among other things, to restrict, to oblige, and to constipate. LeisureArts believes quite strongly that continuing to "bind" new avenues of cultural engagement to the safe and often stale strictures of art historical/critical discourse is truly "lazy."