At YBCA, art is not a spectator sport.
It’s not about sound bites and who can shout loudest and who wins and who loses. It’s not about voracious consumption, bling, status or prestige. It’s not about possession and greed, fear and loathing or anger and violence as a means to an end.
It is instead about that most important human quality – the ability, through creative expression, to passionately engage with each other and with the world around us. It’s about the rare opportunity to be provoked in a smart way and walk away with more questions than answers. It’s about rethinking your assumptions and questioning your presumptions. It’s about long, sustained conversations and wondrous aesthetic experiences that are increasingly rare in the contemporary world. It’s about art that matters in really profound ways in a world in which nothing of consequence seems to matter any longer. It’s about connecting with each other and creating a richly textured, deeply meaningful life.
In striving to accomplish this, we know that, like the artists who create the work we so fervently want to share with you, we need to break some of our own boundaries. We need to step out of our long traditions of neat packages of artistic “product” and create a completely new, multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural, artistically challenging and humanly satisfying contemporary arts center, one that today’s world needs and deserves.
Using the lens of our “Big Ideas” we are creating that arts center by establishing a framework of thought and ideas that invite exploration and engagement. The robust film, visual arts and performance programs that are the hallmark of YBCA, coupled with our endlessly creative and evolving approach to public programs, revolutionizes the way you engage with contemporary art. We think that this is the most important work we can do right now and we think it’s what you want as well.
This season, we embark on this journey anew and we invite you to join us. We’ve settled on four big ideas — lenses through which we can investigate contemporary art and the world with you and others who share your curiosity about and enthusiasm. Over the next several months – and for as long as we all find it interesting – we’ll explore contemporary artistic expressions from an amazing range of sources and influences. We’ll talk about ideas, share art experiences, question widely held beliefs, celebrate the human experience and maybe we’ll even fight a little about what it all means or if it means anything at all. But most importantly, we will engage in conversation that really matters. Join us.
ENCOUNTER: Engaging the social context
Contemporary artists that come to YBCA are very often deeply engaged with the social context. They are interested in exposing and challenging some of the inequities that exist in the contemporary world and making us think more deeply about issues of social justice, creating change and striving for a better world. Often, they want to provoke us to some sort of change in behavior or action. But their work almost always involves a confrontation, or an encounter, with reality and even truth.
SOAR: The search for meaning
Moving well beyond the day to day realities that are the substance of most of our thinking, many contemporary artists are creating artistic experiences that allow us to extend ourselves into a transcendent realm, one that acknowledges the human need for meaning. Beauty, wonder, joy…these are ideas that we are almost embarrassed to talk about in this age of irony and cynicism. Yet, the inexplicable and unexplainable - the impulse to reach for our higher selves can still be a transformative experience. It is also, in this time of conflict and strife, something for which many of us yearn and to which artists can respond.
REFLECT: Considering the personal
The power of the personal story is often at the core of an extraordinary art experience. By delving deeply into our own lives through engagement with art, new insights are revealed to us that affect our understanding of ourselves in the world. The power of art to make the individual story a universal experience is why we engage in art in a public setting – so that we can see ourselves in others and others in ourselves.
DARE: Innovations in art, action, audience
Contemporary art and contemporary life is about risk. It’s about daring to see the world that does not exist and making incursions into the unknown. Especially now, we find that artists are experimenting with the boundary that seems to separate art and artist from audience. Increasingly in our lives, engagement is not just about watching – it is about participating, shaping, integrating art and audience in new ways. We welcome this movement by artists to create these powerful experiences and change the way we think about art, audiences, and the world.