The Outsider's Manifesto

When you arrive at this world on a very fragile seat that is constantly threatened, you are growing up with the fear of falling apart. This fear conquers your whole existence, it deprives it of safety. And this lack fills you with shame, a lot of shame when it encounters power. And power is safety.

When you grow up on a seat like this, you get to learn to hide. It’s a matter of survival. Scared amongst scared ones, filling our holes with knowledge instead of accepting them, we sometimes manage to forget them. We convince ourselves that we are like them, we learn to speak and hide behind their language and shame on whoever hasn’t learned to speak, shame on whoever will dare to remind us.

Shame on them!

But when did the art world become a shelter for fearfulness?

Scared people that can’t and don’t want to see, are leading not only the real but also the art world. The place that was supposed to give people room to accept the absurd, to talk in another language, has become a contest of certainty, a showing-of of knowledge. The place that was supposed to free us from the burden of fitting in theories, boxes and societies, has become a collection of them and shame on whoever can’t fit in!

Shame on them!

Too many intellectuals and people who have found their way in society/ies, have entered the art world. “Complete”, confident, and sure of themselves, they took our seats and through us out. There is no room for madness.

Even minorities, that were supposed to share a similar kind of suffering, are scurrying to hide behind the safety of groups. They nestle into them and together, they claim equality. Sooner or later though, they understand that these groups are also formed inside this language. But they have been fighting alone for too long, so they are not to blame for not having much energy left for extra fights; and shame is a heavy burden to carry. In the name of the group, they will sacrifice whatever can’t fit in and shame on whoever will not! Inhabiting their language is the sacrifice they have to make. No one and nothing can exist outside this language and only through it, they will fight.

But when did the art world become a shelter for fearfulness?

Some seats are soft and filled with flowers. Their owners can thrive in everything in life but they are not meant to be artists. I don’t know why they keep coming this way but this was supposed to be a space for people that their seat was trembling, if they had one. This was their chance to build it.

And these are the people I want to address. The outsiders.

No matter how much we try, flowers will not pop up on our seats. And that’s okay. Flowers colour those who have them and outshine the rest of us but this is because we accept their power. Truth is we don’t need them any more, we wouldn’t even know what to do with them. We managed to grow up without them and precisely because we lacked them, we had to develop another kind of power.

If instead of struggling to prove our integration we would accept our lack and instead of submitting to the shame that comes with it, we would be resisting not within the structures that they -are able to understand and therefore- approve but with our own power, the power of the senses, inviting them, rather than fighting them, to understand the fields that can’t fit in their language, we would establish a space of a mutual understanding. It’s all about the introduction.

Theories are in fact essential, but they should not dominate the work of art. We tend to believe that by understanding the politics of what is happening around us, and by creating work that manifests our knowledge on these politics, we gain our lost power. But by trying to intellectualise everything, we lose the only thing that is left to us. The artist has to cross these boundaries to access what is not yet domesticated or understood, and most of the times this means to show us what their, and our, seats are made of. Our power is that we have access to what they renounce and because this denial costs them a lot, our job is to remind them. After all, knowledge will never explain, we will never understand.

There is not much changed from when we were babies, except we learned to hide. There is not much that we have became except an outcome of trying to adjust. There is not much that we can do except from having a bit of fun. There is not much to understand rather than what we understood a long long time ago, when we were at our cradles yelling Mum.

I’ll always lose to safety because there is nothing in the world more powerful than it. Safety cannot be generated from inside, it requires more than one individual and it shines and it destroys whoever is left outside.

I want to get inside. But in my own terms for once; Let me inside.

The Outsider's Manifesto, Eleni Tomadaki, Unpublished, 2018