Artistic Intelligence
or Salvation as a Galloping Liquid

Sandra Freygarten

„It is not to promote a new magical instrument, a new ‘quick fix’ for business. It is an attempt to show the great potential of ‘artful creation’ and at the same time point out that the birth of a new paradigm offers promising prospects for the future of business and society” 


The artist collective Freeters makes things. At the end of a complex process there is a result, an artifact. A chair with an umbrella canopy. A sofa made from a former telephone booth. A perspective-distorting uncertainty as a workspace. A renaissance painting with Superman. A series of poetic stagings from cloud cuckoo land. A workplace series: rude, fairy-tale-like, strange, calamitous, touching, serious, thought-provoking, prompting tears and laughter, inviting people to work, but differently.


Such a list of artifacts, even if it would fill pages, is always insufficient. This has to do with the sheer number of unique projects, with the abundance of inventions and tailor-made arrangements developed by Freeters.  


But what literally gets left behind in concentrating on the diverse products is the track itself; namely, the trail that must first be uncovered in an undeveloped area in order to turn an immaterial subject into a tangible thing. Every path is different, which has to do with changes of pace and direction. The path from the starting point to the finished product is never known in advance, it always has to be found first. It holds surprises, runs into the wall, or gets lost in the unspecific or the arbitrary, only to take promising turnoffs at unexpected points. 


Actors of contemporary art create works in which individual and social questions are condensed and thus enable viewers to take a new look at relevant themes. The paths that lead to such new perspective-expanding artifacts are themselves characterized by factors such as uncertainty, experimentation, and ignorance.

In addition, the artistic results of Freeters develop through a collective process in multistage phases of thinking and acting, perceiving and exposing, dreaming and manifesting, playing and planning, showing and analyzing, dissolving and specifying. 


Some artistic strategies can readily be seen in the works. The combination of seemingly unrelated things: lampshade and garment, roof and hammock, rubber ball and seat. Materials are examined not for their usual function, but for a potential that lies outside the usual. Things are de-normalized: gondolas are used as a cozy retreat on wheels instead of for transport, height differences, small things are enormously enlarged and huge things shrunk tiny. Materials are torn out of context and relocated, like the crafty fusible beads of childhood exploding their 15 x 15 centimeter pegboards and completely covering a furnished room, a millionfold pixelation in 3D.


These works are not created in a vacuum. The collective must negotiate them together within a framework shaped by certain self-determined temporal and spatial conditions, including rules of play related to theme, material, and action. The emphasis is on acting. Experiments are made with material, context, and theme, the experiments are reflected on, and the results of these reflections are fed into new experiments. 


And because the artists build these experimental arrangements from the outset in such a way that surprising results are challenged, it creates a field of action defined by uncertainty, which must be constantly rearranged, reevaluated, rearranged, and reevaluated. This form of artistic work has less to do with erraticism or unpredictability and more to do with the systematic provocation of chance and the unknown for the sole purpose of learning something new about the specific question of the project. 


If we take a closer look at the art processes, procedures such as experimenting, improvising, calibrating, playing, and fumbling are elementary strategies that spring from the principle of restlessness. Restlessness here is an artistic movement that is to be seen against the background of the experimental arts of the 20th and 21st centuries and which deliberately brings chance and the unintended into play. It means an opening of the senses, a scattered attention, a holding out for possibilities at the edges of perception, a deliberate shifting of tendencies into a prolonged dissonance between chaos and order.


It is precisely in the initial stages of a project’s development that artists engage in such restless, searching activities. They provoke coincidences and “mistakes” in order to consciously keep this space of possibility open. Their “strategies of action are composed of general modes of action, which can be broken down once again into a multitude of sub-activities, such as trying things out, improvising, or irritating, as well as specific modes of procedure, such as fragmenting or copying” . These procedures are not only strategies that represent outwardly active activities, but also fragments of inner perceptual activities that are, however, essential to the art process. 


A viewer trained in reflection does not miss the fact that the works are the result of extraordinary procedures that are non-standardized, non-receptive, non-repeatable.


The artistic practice of Freeters is characterized by strategies of thought and action that are needed in a society with constantly changing conditions, in a working world that overturns itself in its dynamics, and in social interactions that must be readjusted again and again. The need to shape the present through artistic action is no longer limited to the context of art alone. Through experiences with such processes, skills are developed that are suitable for overcoming the challenges of everyday life. The ability to experiment, to stretch one’s thinking, to see the fundamental in the seemingly unrelated, to have a thirst for experience, the desire to create, the burning energy. Increasingly, nonartistic contexts also have the urgency for change, which could be organized and modeled by artistic professionalism, provided one does not locate art practice only within an isolated, self-contained organism apart from all systemic relevance.


Freeters’ approach works just like their products. Contradictory, exacting, absurd, refined, fitting, risky, provocative, playful. Freeters’ processes of creation are galloping liquids that sound like electro swing, are sung by Heidi in Gelsenkirchen or Metallica in Mallorca, depending on the order, and alternately shimmer in gold, pink, or neon yellow. The containers with the labels economy, education, and politics urgently need some of this substance, because their solutions are stuck dried to the bottom or have long since expired. 

1 Darsø, L. (2004): Artful Creation: Learning-Tales of Arts-in-Business, Copenhagen, Samfundslitteratur.
2 Freygarten, S./Strunk, M. (2017): Transformation – Komplementäre künstlerische Strategien: Ein Handbuch für Künstlerinnen, Berater und Multiplikatoren in Veränderungs- und Bildungsprozessen, Hamburg, Potsdam, Berlin: HPB University.
3 Reck, Hans Ulrich: Dissonante Perspektiven – Unruhe, in: KUNSTFORUM international, vol. 263, Köln 2019.

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