The “Hilchot Shchenim; Chapter Two” exhibition focuses on tactics and strategies used by artists, artist groups and NGOs to create cultural networks and intercultural / artistic cooperative projects. The artists whose works are displayed in the exhibition adopt tactics and strategies typical of war, finance, commerce, advertising and mass distribution. “Hilchot Shchenim; Chapter Two” emphasizes the ways in which war, capitalism and the globalization movement shape the media, and in which artists use media technologies for their artistic production. When referring to the terms ’tactics’ and ’strategy’ in the context of art, we cannot detach them from their traditional meanings, associating them with the military. In this respect, ’tactics’ represent the tool used by the weak, whereas ’strategy’ is the tool used by the State, the strong entity. This partitioning, however, may be subject to change, and roles may be switched. According to De Certeau’s distinction between tactics and strategy, strategy belongs to the State, to economic power, to rationality; it is based on a clear concept of boundary, a boundary separating the self from the other, and enabling a clear-cut definition of the enemy. Tactics prevail without separation and without boundaries; they need no frontal attack; and as they do not recognizes boundaries, they allow for migrating and diverging with the help of tricks and manipulations. Strategy and tactics as tools may serve both the weak and the strong, the individual and society, the State and the opponent – the terrorist. When individuals lay their hands on State / power ’tools’ (media, information, distribution networks), they deal in the first place with tools and practice. New forms of practice – production and distribution by computers, video and stills photography, the Internet etc. – are neither tactical nor strategic tools. They exist as ballistics in the war of art. Strategy is not a political concept, and it cannot serve as opposition to tactics. The outline of strategy is a debate on the interaction of political times, army or aesthetics. Tactics have not reached the stage of being an oppositional tool, rather than a tool used by the State.
The works displayed in the exhibition offer a new agenda of artists struggling on behalf of social reform, artists who believe that art is not only a mirror of society, but that it can also play a role in social change. It is an art that functions in the age of technology, digitization, information – an art that coexists in dialogue with plagiarism, copying, imitation, duplication, manipulation, espionage, surveillance and immigration. Iconographic representations of warriors, immigrants, homeless people etc. carry on the traditional concept of art, and only few artists pay attention to the production tools with which they work and their significance as part of their production tactics. Media aesthetics nowadays define the aesthetics of art, consciously as well as indirectly, as both use the same tools for the perception and representation of reality. “Hilchot Shchenim; Chapter Two” invites the visitors to view works created by artistic cooperatives, artist groups and couples. These are projects built on the basis of cooperation, in which the collective work overshadows the personal input. This method of creation represents more than anything else the transition from analog to digital culture – not only in terms of digital representation, production speed, availability and manipulative ability, but also in terms of relinquishing the status of analog, unique, ’genius’ artist in favor of networking, a production in which all players enjoy equal status.
Underlying the concept of “Hilchot Shchenim; Chapter Two” is the wish to establish a cultural network in the Near East. It is nowadays the self-evident wish of anyone who believes that art is not powerless, that art is not only a sphere of representation. Art and artists are key players in the sphere of cultural creation. By using media tools, not in order to destroy them but to improve them and create a better technology, art is part of the cultural sphere. Avoiding categorical or stylistic readings of artistic and cultural practices is typical of the Avant-garde of the 1920s, which rose up against the strict rules that dictated the topics worthy of artistic representation. The Avant-garde artists used this title because they regarded themselves as ’pioneers’ breaking the way to a new type of art. They believed that through this new art they would actually represent the world of the early 20th century – a world that had undergone wars and revolutions, a world of inventions and technological innovations, a world in which the industrial revolution and mechanization were changing life styles beyond recognition. They hoped that through their art they would influence society and build a better and juster world. The modern continuation of the metaphysical or historical abstract and the romantic characteristics accompanying this title make it difficult to read tactical art as Avant-garde. Artists working nowadays outside the sphere of representation are exiled from the sphere of art to the sphere of political activism or media activism. Yet, this new type of art may well be referred to as the Avant-garde of the 21st century.