David Weber-Krebs (BE/D) is an artist and a researcher based in Brussels. He studied at the University of Fribourg (CH) and the Amsterdam School of the Arts (NL). David explores various contexts as a basis for an experimental process, which questions the traditional relationship between the work of art and its public. He creates situations engaging the spectator in a complex game between getting absorbed or merging with an art piece, and keeping his critical distance towards it. Be it by staging actors (ex. into the big world), a donkey (Balthazar), a minimalist sculpture (Performance, Robert Morris revisited) or a public space (Miniature), the form is ever reduced to its simplest expression. It becomes like a projection screen, inviting the spectator into a mode of active contemplation where meaning is not given but produced by the spectator.
Recent works are the performances Tonight, lights out! (2011/2013), Balthazar (2013) with Maximilian Haas, Into the big world (2014), and the installation Immersion (2014) at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt. David collaborates on a regular basis with different artists and theorists and he teaches at several visual arts and performance academies.
The Sublime in the Anthropocene or is it possible to extend the notion of participation to non-human agents?
In the eighteenth century, Edmund Burke defined an aesthetic of the sublime through an analogy between experiences made in nature (a storm, an earthquake) and experiences made with artworks. At that time, the relationship between man and nature was still clear. But how can we think of the sublime in the era of the anthropocene, in which humans have become the principal agents for the transformation of our planetary systems, to the extend of becoming a geological power? And how can we create artworks that are aesthetically and ethically truthful to the deliquescence of the boundaries between nature and culture? Or maybe we are due to an entirely new paradigm of the sublime that would be found in the machine or in big data?
Claire Bishop defines participatory art as art in which people are the main medium and material: people do something in interaction with one-another within an art context.
In a kind of reverse movement, is it possible to extend this definition to non-human agents? What about things and animals? And what about the air that we breath? What would an aesthetic experience be where humans and non-humans interact in a horizontal, non-hierarchical way?
Departing from these two questions, I want to retrace the history of the Sublime (let’s say from Longinus to Steven Shaviro) and think of the possibility of a new aesthetic: an aesthetic of continuity. The extension of participation to non-human actors constitutes, in a sense, a case study thereof.
Theater as a social and ecological experiment.