OFF BRATISLAVA 2019

dogmatiX

The jubilee tenth year of OFF Bratislava, titled dogmatiX, aims to create a space for examining ideological dogmas, social prejudices and institutionalized points of view. The festival invites artists to address settled and established opinions and principles and to discuss official tenet systems concerning faith, morals and behavior. The festival is ready to question particular doctrines that have been authoritatively laid down, prescribed and proclaimed as unquestionably true by certain social groups.

A firmly-set authoritative opinion, statement or principle: this is the general definition of the Greek word dogma. Originally it did not have a specifically negative context, rather the opposite. For religious ideologies it stands as guarantee of possible redemption; something that is worthy of trust. However, in modern society’s vocabulary this concept carries a rather negative connotation.

There is a very thin line between dogma and truth. The one that has become increasingly outmoded over the course of time is dogma. But before this has happened dogmas are often used as an argument for usurpation of justice and committing iniquities. A society with such experience is often cautious about dogmas. Still, how well are we able to differentiate between purpose-built statements and facts or question an opinion of someone in power? And is it always in the interest of human society to distinguish between dogma and objective reality? Those who believe usually do not want to question their beliefs. For certain groups of people their beliefs, even contradicting rational thinking, can be an effective tool of survival, offering feelings of solidarity and security. As long as this does not restrict the right of others to differing opinions, such illusion does not need to be considered as clearly negative.

The truth is that even when we can distinguish belief in a dogma from reality our attitude towards it can vary. We can try to ignore, criticize, fight against it or even approve it. In this regard, art has always represented a very active instrument, either as propaganda for a particular dogma or in its opposition. It is art’s ability to communicate with masses through aesthetic experience that gives it the crucial power to convince. Sometimes even a simple observation of matters, free of judgement, can be sufficient. What dogmas, prejudices or authoritative statements inspire contemporary photography and media when they can freely reflect on them?

The selection of authors exhibiting at this year’s festival offers a broad scope of artistic and conceptual solutions by which to elaborate this theme, starting from reportage documents, where understanding of the process of overcoming dogma or prejudice goes along with understanding the context, to eminently conceptual works, using hyperbole or satire. From black and white photography to multimedia objects and installations, the theme has found a wide range of forms in this exhibition, from the media chosen to the artist’s role. Some of the exhibited projects reflect on the author’s personal life and his/her experience of dogma. Other artists became interested in dogmatic practices as observers, feeling the urge to react to them due to their serious impact and immediacy. Both historical and present-day subjects only stress the fact that art and its authors do not remain indifferent towards these phenomena.

Festival z verejných zdrojov podporil Fond na podporu umenia.