WORKSHOP “ENERGY = YES! QUALITY = NO!” – KOCHI BIENNALE 2019 DEBRIEFING
The workshop “ENERGY = YES! QUALITY = NO!” took place from March 2nd to March 28th, 2019. In total there were 43 workshop sessions, twice a day from 9:30 to 12:30, and from 2 to 5PM. The total number of participants that came to the workshop was more than 300, mostly ‘newcomers’, a few came twice or even three times. Therefore, altogether more than 300 different contributions were discussed. The workshop team consisted of Betsy, Ajay, Anil, joined by John the ‘observer’. The decision to lead the workshop both in English and Malalayam (the regional language) was a good idea. No one was excluded because of language, and this was important to me, as it made possible my will and assertion to always work for the ‘non-exclusive’ audience everywhere, in India and in Kochi where so many languages are spoken. Here I want to thank Betsy Thomas for her wonderful translations.
I am happy of the outcome of the workshop, it showed and confirmed my affirmation of doing a universal work of art in sharing everyone’s competence to make a judgment. During the month of the workshop, I experienced and measured the diversity, creativity and invention of participants. I saw how seriousness, taking things seriously, and being seriously implicated in the workshop always creates followers and brings supporters on the long run.
I was impressed by the fact that participants understood why deciding and bringing only one single contribution to be discussed at the workshop is so important. This is essential in order to avoid the issue of ‘choice’ during our discussions and clearly point the difference between deciding and choosing. The fact that everyone understood the seriousness and meaning of this endeavor is a success. The participants’ ability to focus their attention and judgements on the criteria of “ENERGY = YES! QUALITY = NO!” made me happy. I was impressed by the sovereignty of the participants’ reactions who sometimes faced all kinds of judgements, not always easy to confront. I am happy that the participants got the point that judging is not just a matter of expressing a ‘like’.
The workshop addressed everyone. Indeed, judging through the articulation “ENERGY = YES! QUALITY = NO!” made it possible to reach out towards the non-exclusive audience.
We discussed very different contributions. This made clear that the workshop did no address artists but everyone claiming to be an author of something. Each discussion on every contribution lasted about 20 minutes and was carried out with our common judgements “Yes” or “No”, followed by the discussion about “Why”. And I am sure that every one of those moments of common attention and concentration were positive and beneficial, not only for the author, but for each person participating. My participation – instead of being ambiguous in the role of the ‘animator’- was benefic: I gave impulse to look precisely and express a judgement without aiming the person. This is one of the essential achievements of the workshop, marking the difference between judgement of a contribution – which we did – and judgement of a person – which we clearly avoided. Understanding the necessity to always follow this, in art, is one of the important outcomes. I am happy I could participate in the “Kochi Biennale”, 2018/19 – a powerful, meaningful and non-compromising biennale. Indeed, this is a truly universal and global biennale, not only an international one! I was happy to take part in this sharply and precisely made art exhibition which addresses complex issues of today’s world, thanks to the engagement, thoughts and sensitivity of its curator, Anita Dube. To stay one month in Kochi – not only as a tourist but also as an artist with an everyday-mission – was a fantastic experience for me.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Paris, April 5th