Sensuous Society

There is an overarching issue that I continuously associate to Theatrum Mundi. The root of it is the idea that we are moving toward what I call a sensuous society. In this society the general mode of being is defined by the aesthetic dimension, that has exactly the sensuous experience at is core (according to Baumgarten and the aesthetic philosophy following him). That means that the current economic rationality that dominates all spheres of societies today will be replaced. So, it is a very radical idea. But the basic principles of societies have changed several times. As Joseph Campbell points out, one can tell which dimension has dominated at a give time by looking at the tallest building in the city. Up until the Middle Ages – The church (and the basic premises of the religious dimension: to transcend, a relation to a god/the gods, spirituality…), and now (since the industrialization) – The financial centres  (and the basic premises of the economic dimension: efficiency, duty, discipline, consumerism…). I think most would agree that we are still living in the economic dimension and it determines our fundamental mode of being in the world. But a new time, allowing for a more sensuous mode of being in the world, seem to approach. It is possible and it is happening as I see it. It will affect all the societal institutions and elements. Art is at the centre of this change and to me, Theatrum Mundi could be a city in a sensuous society.

The notion of a sensuous society further more reshapes the role of art and artistic practice. The exclusive autonomous art system is also a result of the dominance of the economic dimension. Within this autonomous zone the art genius is a celebrated figure, which is conceived as someone with a very special (transcending) intelligence. In a sensuous society however, I believe that this will be a more common intelligence, as for example Joseph Beuys points at – simply, because we all have this creative potential within us, and if our outset and mode of being in the world is the sensuous, this potential will be released. Of course, there will be some, who are better at navigating in the sensuous society, those with special artistic talents. We should pay a lot of respect to that craftsmanship and continuously refine it – But much more people than those crystallised as artists today have artistic talent that will be discharged and cultivated in a sensuous society, which it would never have been in the economic.

In the artistic practice I work with – intervening performance art, there is really no distinction between artistic practice, research and activism. My cause is the movement toward a more sensuous society and allowing for a world where more people can liberate their creative potential – to be expressive, exactly as Richard Sennett puts it. My tool is my artistic practice and the research.