As a response to 25 years of cultural deep freeze in the UK, the Anti Design Festival will attempt to unlock creative fires and ideas, exploring spaces hitherto deemed out-of-bounds by a purely commercial criteria. Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk. The festival will provide a rare space for unhindered exploration and creative opportunity, where ideas may fail as equally as succeed.
Photo from ANARCHY/apathy workshop with Research Studios
The first Anti Design Festival wrapped up in London this past Sunday, September 26th. The fest consisted of ten days and ten venues of various events/exhibitions/performances/workshops/etc. surrounding art + design. While a select group (spearheaded by Neville Brody) served as curators of the festival, their policy was “to invite like-minded people to control key areas and aspects of the festival. These ‘agents’ will contribute, commission and curate work and events during the festival.” Here’s their manifesto (which you can also download as a pdf on their site):
We are living in an age where millions of colours became 256. Difference is the enemy. Generic culture hypnotises us all into generic patterns, where control is visibly invisible. Danger is replaced by fear. New means upgrade. Risk is obsolete. Art made money stupid, and money made us fools. We welcome no_use, no_function and no_fear. Anarchy, crash and burn, the new awaits.
From Learning to Earning, and now to Yearning, we have forgotten why we are here. We have lost touch with what made us tick, the fire of creative possibility that once consumed us from within. Revolutionary thought is but a distant memory. I grew up as part of a generation that thought it could help improve society; that our sole function was to be conscious and to spread that consciousness through creative awareness, exploration, observation and questioning. This generation was replaced by the Thatcher/Reagan paradigm of Culture=Money. Thinkers became earners, Creatives became entertainers, and a whole dumbed-down generation now feels entitled to success and profit without having to work or think too much.
We are now left with a spiritual hollowness. The belief systems of consumption and commodity have been exposed as empty. Revolution is a distant echo lost in the white noise, and religion has been largely subsumed by globalisation. Virtual experiences have replaced human touch. Analogue culture is now the exotic. We have managed to create for our children, perhaps for the first time in history, a future which is less hopeful than the one we live in today.
The house of credit cards has now collapsed. For 25 years we have been in a state of Deep Freeze. We have somehow denied ourselves permission to remember what it was like before the Big Bang of banking deregulation. Schools became businesses and hospitals became profit centres. Art for art’s sake was sacrificed for entertainment and bums on seats. Ideas became cliches and anything different was viewed with suspicion and disdain.
We have traded Freedom for Peace. What we need is Liberation.
Free Me From Freedom
As the Lehman Brothers collapsed, so a new era is signalled and the baton is passed on again. Mankind has the opportunity now to reclaim the cultural high-ground and risk something new, a creative breach in the barrier of exclusion that can allow some real growth and evolution, like a bright light shining through the cracks of a crumbling wall.
The line of Dangerous Ideas had been interrupted and the path can be found again.
I like that there’s an effort to foster an alternative (to commercial work, to AIGA, etc.) design world and wish it was a bit more practical for me to attend and check out. Do you think this push for anti-materialist design thinking from this group is just the new form of elite or do you think they’re sincere?
Something to keep on the radar.