All Power to the Amateurs
Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
– 16 September 2018
“All Power to the Amateurs” is the subtitle to the 2018 Dieter Hacker exhibition at the ZKM in Karlsruhe; “Anyone can be an Artist” was the title of the 1971 exhibition in his producer’s gallery for folk art in Berlin.
With the beginning of social networks in 2003 – Myspace and Facebook, to be named as pioneers – the possibilities of showing and sharing personal opinions changed dramatically. As the popularity of digital photography grew, so did the number of photos and their publication online. Perceptions of photography, public space, and personal opinion have shifted considerably and this has had a significant impact on fine arts and culture. Yet Dieter Hacker mooted the phenomenon of amateur art as a category of folk art already more than 30 years ago.
The exhibition at the ZKM presents a selection of amateur work from Dieter Hacker’s producer’s gallery in Berlin. Photographs, texts, drawings, and objects made by a wide range of people from the newspaper deliverer to the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, are on display. Hacker sees the works as a snapshot of “general creativity and imaginative resistance to the status quo”. In 1972, he is said to have remarked that “Folk art is not art made by the people. Folk art is not the painting, the carving, the kneading of the amateur. Folk art is the art of articulating one’s own interests, as effective as possible and therefore as unconventional, imaginative and intelligent as possible.“
In the context of folk art from the 1970s and 80s, we can now take a broader view of the current phenomenon. The exhibition considers the current and future consequences for society, democracy, and “general creativity” and a possible shift in our relationship to the historical concept of culture.