by Bibi Katholm

In 1839, French artist Paul Delaroche famously declared, “from today, painting is dead.”  Since then such statements have been repeated many times, yet we still have painting and we still have art. In the age of information and technology overload, with our cultural globalisation and relativism we appear to have lost all faith in the power of things like art and philosophy, at least in some parts of the world. Have we somehow misplaced the meaning of our existence? While most contemporary voices are preoccupied with a dark view of the future and the meaning of art, ‘In Case We Don’t Die’ asks the question: What if creativity and art is the only thing that can save us?

“ These days potential catastrophes are everywhere you look. The world is so full of danger, threats, stress, overload and insecurity, and most of the time it feels very likely that we will all be dead soon, the only question is when and how, exactly? Assuming that we, against all odds, survive the terrifying pitfalls of the future that lies ahead, is creativity going to be the thing that saves us? Will our imagination become an escape route, a place where we can hide and pretend to be alive for real, or will it be the one thing that forcefully confronts us with the truth and gives us the strength needed to make a change? What kind of art would a generation of unlikely survivors produce, and where would they find their inspiration? What influence would surviving a catastrophe have on our values, ethics, and our perception of truth, and how might this influence visualize itself in the art of the future? ” 

This extract from the original exhibition proposal for the ICWDD project raises some important questions in relation to the connection between contemporary art and social politics and our collective concerns about a future that seems to appear more threatening with each passing day.
By creating ICWDD I was trying to locate all the little acupuncture points of anxiety that come together to form a pattern of nervous energy that seems to run through our late capitalist society like an electric current or a shooting pain. I wanted to instigate a discussion about future creative spaces, temporary creative communities, the current relationship between art and social politics, solidarity and the potential of the shared creative process.

The necessary void

The following quote by UK artist Shane Bradford is his answer to the question I’ve posed by creating the ICWDD project:

” …we need a different type of illusionist to recreate the emptiness where the pure event of form can take place’ – Baudrillard
The apocalypse foretold in In Case We Don’t Die is a blessing. It pre-constructs Baudrillard’s necessary void, creating the conditions where possibilities of newness can begin to be tested. What once was perceived as post-modern complexity is now revealed instead, as a cancellation and painting can begin again, without the shackles of modernist preconception and expectation. Finally, the failure of painting is matched by the breakdown of society and painting is free… “

I wrote an actual manifesto for ICWDD. Then a non-manifesto. Then another manifesto. Eventually I also invited all the artists involved in the group exhibitions to contribute to the website with their own bits of writing about the exhibition idea and our collaboration. This archive of artist writing can be found in the ‘Words’ section on the ‘Exhibition’ page of the new ICWDD website.

The ICWDD project will continue to manifest itself as exhibitions, constantly growing and taking on new forms, but the exhibitions are only one part of the flexible organism that is In Case We Don’t Die and they will continue to exist as such.
So far there have been 5 international ICWDD group exhibitions – in Berlin, London, Copenhagen (2) and Los Angeles.
The most recent initiative and development of the project is the ICWDD Journal. The Journal will become a permanent blog part of the ICWDD website.

ICWDD is alive and well. How are you?