What is Gallery SoToDo ?
Theodor di Ricco
warum hast du sotodo gestartet?
The state of California is so young and so far away. It is separated from the rest of the world by the Pacific Ocean to the west and to the east; deserts, mountains and fields of corn. Culture is imported, what was originally there has been put on reservations and ignored. With such an recently implanted pluralistic culture in California, set aside from the rest of the world, nothing has had time to become sacred.
SoToDo, The name implies much. It was time to stop complaining about the lack of contemporary culture in this far away land and to do something about it. I contacted local artists, provided an space, linked them to a theme and set them loose. I invited the public and together there exchange of view points, experiences formed a lasting impression on all those who participated.
was ging damals in dir vor?
Since the end of the Second World War, virtual consciousness has evolved tremendously. The telephone, radio and television had moved humans much closer to experiencing events simultaneously. Perhaps performance art is one of the first art forms that appeared in various cities around the world at the same time some fifty years ago. Today, the internet is increasingly the vehicle of communication incorporating the three as well as being global and instantaneous.
In the eighties, I had studied in Paris and Berlin. In 1987, I returned to California where one is liberal, comes from an academy and is open to new ideas. Or one is conservative, from a closed community and opposes alternative views. Or one is socialist and supports a common ground and loses out in a capitalist society.
A socialist artist is ignored from the academy or condemned by the conservatives. Their art is not new nor does it aspire to traditional artistic values. It is no wonder the socialist artist provokes in order to get attention. They are in the middle and nether side is willing to listen. With all this in mind, I was ready to put my experiences and knowledge into action.
warum so to do - something to do?
SoToDo comes from doodling at elementary school. I stumbled upon a graphically pleasing as well as a very short english sentence. What has it become? As with every action, it has a political, spiritual and aesthetic statement. It seems to reason that if an artist or an artist group uses the action and calls it art, that their message should be honest and the concept clear. The concept of 'so, to do' is authentic and concise and has been the driving force behind my actions.
was ist daraus geworden?
For the first ten years of it's conception, it followed the concept of something to do. in the last 15, it has evolved into a congress of performance art. It has come this far without any personal or financial debts. It is a success because of the simplicity of it's concept, the clearness of it's goals and the strength of it's principles.
One principle is to do the best it can with the resources at hand and to make good on this promise. Since evolving into a congress of performance art, the artists are guaranteed during its duration
- Breakfast and a warm meal,
- documentation in the for of a printed catalog and / or CD-Rom.
Which leads to the second,
the second, act democratically but realize that exceptions due occur. Apropos money: because of limited budgeting, SoToDo has never been in position to cover the cost of travel or pay an honorary fee to the artists. However, the responsibility of making the artists' stay as comfortable as possible; lodging, breakfast and a warm meal, plus documentation have become the traditional ways of saying thank you.
The goal is to create a environment where artists and public can come together and exchange ideas and network in a non-commercial environment. The benefits of this exchange, whether personal or artistic, are highly motivating factors for those participating and an existential aspect of the longevity of the organization.
In it's concept, Gallery SoToDo does not play god. The invitation to the next congress goes out all the artists who have been apart in a SoToDo event over the past twenty five years. New participants are welcomed only through a recommendation from a former SoToDo artist.
In the invitation it states once and for all our concept, goals and principles and can be followed from the moment the artists receives it until their departure from the congress site.
It is because of this conciseness that Gallery SoToDo has been easily translated in other cities around the world and artists have remained loyal to the congress, returning occasionally as well as adding a constant flux of new participants. In addition, I have demonstrated that it is possible to organize and realize a congress of performance art without major funding or a base in an art academy.
was bedeutete deutschland/berlin für sotodo?
The end of WWII was the zero hour for Germany. From then on everything had to be rethought. realigned and rebuilt. To be civilized, the society must know it's strengths and learn from it's mistakes. Germany is such a country. It encourages it's people to actualize themselves and holds the the dignity of man is inviolable. It maintains it's people in work, health and happiness and guarantees to uphold civil liberties
In the 20th century, Berlin has had a run of extreme politics, From the chaotic years of a fledgling democracy, to fascism, capitalism and communism which for two generations separated the city. West-Berlin was then an island. Those fleeing the mainland had to live separated. In the East, they lives were regulated. In both societies there existed a strong public and private social network which was in part artificially maintained by massive subsidies. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, another generation has passed. Germany is united, anchored into the European Union and what has survived politically in Berlin is socialism.
was hat sich während den 25 jahren geändert an sotodo?
Gallery SoToDo started in 1987 by incorporating visual as well as performance art. Ten years later it evolved into a congress and has since then devoted it's resources to performance art. To better describe the events organized by Gallery SoToDo, the word 'congress' was chosen. As the word suggests, it is a union in order to exchange, By bringing together artists and the public. who differ in their distinct geographical and cultural temperaments, the SoToDo Congress of Performance Art ensures a constant flux of new ideas and is the purest form of artistic expression within contemporary culture.
I am puzzled when people refer to Gallery SoToDo as underground. There is nothing underground about SoToDo. It does not distribute is whereabouts in coded ways. It does not hide it's documentation. When the SoToDo event occurs, it is publicized as best as possible within the means available. It is for all to enjoy, if only they dared.
an der umgebung, in der sotodo tätig ist?
In the sixties, there were Happenings, Sit-Ins, group demonstrations where people came together to manifested a collective statement or common consciousness. An awareness of the body within time and space became Body Art
The seventies, Fluxus where an object or act is used and manipulated thus giving it a new meaning. It developed from the concept debated during the period that everyone is an artist in the infrastructure of society; from the gardener, to the craftsmen, the dentist to the politician. It is particular to note, that it is at this time the word Performance Art was deemed proper to use when describing this new and controversial art form.
In the Eighties, performance art began to incorporate the elements of dance and theater. New genres within performance art were created. In the Nineties, the reverse was true. Theater, dance, video and music were increasingly incorporating some elements of performance art and Live Art was created.
In the Naughts or the last decade artists, having being taught by those who are relevant to the art of performance, have mastered and incorporate the technique of video and sound and readily include other people into their performance art piece.
Performance art continues to evolve. It is the pinnacle of contemporary art simply because it is time based. It is the performance artist who first defines the zeitgeist, which is later interpreted in other artistic media of sculpture, painting, theater, film, dance and music. Performance art is the act of making art on site at the moment. Yet, even though everyone is allowed to make art, only a few dare.
Currently, the outlet for free speech is through the internet. With the dawn of Web 2.0, radio and television channels and the telephone line are being replaced by one cable hooked up to a computer monitor which is on a desk or hanging on the wall. Our social networks have become, in part, virtual and we are free to choose what we experience.
There is an ever growing tendency to mix the virtual with reality and the gray area between the two is broadening.
Artists have strengthened their international network respective to the developments of information technology. The ephemeral nature of performance art is it's means and has been turned into a commodity by those who created it. Therefore, in the near future, art via the monitor will develop within these parameters.
in order for this to happen, events centered around performance art must occur. It provides the real time environment where participants can explore current means of artistic expression, communicate, pool ideas and strengthening the bridges that will link them further. The benefit of this exchange, whether artistic or personal, is a highly motivating factor for all those who contribute.
In the case of life following art, within the context of performance art this collective artistic happening is a service to ourselves and to the society at whole. So, to do.