Growth and prosperity still number among the basic ideological constants of our purportedly post-ideological age. Growth and prosperity also play an indispensable role even in movements directed to diametrically opposed goals, addressing for example the climate protection transition, as well as the energy and mobility transition. Scant attention is paid to art and culture in this context or to the question of how the cultural field relates to these fundamental ideological patterns. However, ever since references to limits to growth in the economic and socio-political realm began to appear – which has been the case since at least the 1960s – there has also been a greater focus on calling the culture industry’s agendas into question (along with the widespread embedding of artistic practice in those agendas). Admittedly, such querying of why everything must constantly grow even larger, more comprehensive and better, including in artistic and cultural terms, long played a rather subordinate role. However, art institutions and many practitioners in this field are now also beginning to question the mantra of permanent accumulation and multiplication in the light of the growth critique that is once again gaining ground. This affects myriad aspects, from waste of resources and a dearth of sustainability in the cultural sector to the still inexorable expansive proliferation of contemporary art, not to mention the problem of how individual artistic work can resist the growth dogma or criticize it meaningfully. What course is being steered by this undertaking that claims to be committed to the Green Deal, yet actually contributes to maintaining a status quo that is not in the slightest “green”? How could the desire to avoid constantly having to expand and grow be implemented effectively? The "De-Growth" issue attempts to address these questions from multiple perspectives.
Publication date: 15th September 2022