Salles d 'Urgence / Emergency Rooms


Urgent Proposition for Museums of Contemporary Art

Based on the observation that the visual artist is left out of the debate
about actuality. I believe that it would be healthy for society to open up
'Emergency Rooms' in contemporary art institutions.

Such emergency spaces would give the artists the chance to visually comment
on actuality ­ an opportunity to express his/her position and visions about
today (today understood as today without any delay).
The Emergency Rooms will be updated every day and will have the important
concept of living at the same ultra fast speed of the news (and it's
consequences like new wars).

The Emergency Rooms will welcome any visual artist with burning visions
about the news.

The quality or aesthetic of the exhibitions is not important here. The
importance lies in the possibility to show art immediately. The exhibition
should function like the mass medias: Be renewed every day and be up to date
on the ongoing debates. For example, visual artists working with video could
re-edit and thus make new version of the TV news; artists working with photo
could reorganise the iconography of newspapers to provide another angle.
Visitors to the museum would see a new version of the newspaper they have
just read, or of the TV's 'breaking news' that they just saw. Visitors
should experience a new vision of what is normally offered to them through
the news media, a new perception of the World's actual situation.

To work this way, the visual artists need: An 'Emergency Room' ­ a real
physical space. It should be clear that an installation artist is not a web
artist or a writer of a chronicle. To express his/her burning vision and
feelings about what happens in the World today, the installation artist
needs an exhibition space. To be powerful in his/her expression the artist
needs to express him/herself in his own language.

The actual situation is that if an artist wants to comment on a burning
actuality in an art institution, he must accept a delay of several years
before having the possibility to show his vision. The contemporary art
structure is putting the visual artist in a position of a 'retard' (delayed


I believe that installation artists have important statements to make. I
believe that artists are the thermometers for society and that we have to
give them a voice in real time (and not in delay, before it is too late).

Politicians use visual communication more and more. The visual artist is a
specialist in decoding and synthesising visual material and is strongly able
to bring us a new version of what is really going on ­ as he/she is a visual

Political decisions are made fast and it is important that the contemporary
art structure allows the artist to take part in the actual debate and
compete with the ultra speed of the news.

This is why I believe that art institutions should open 'Emergency Rooms',
where artists can arrive in the morning and exhibit immediately i.e. the way
he/she reads the newspapers. I am sure that some evidence or even human
sensuality will be brought into focus for the visitors of museums.

I am convinced that artists have some 'evidence' about the world today ­
evidence that we should also have a chance to look at.

Artists in society play the role of bringing back the debate on human values
(and not always those in media strategies). He/she also has the role of
being a sensitive observant of society's mechanisms. The Emergency Rooms
have to take place in public institutions like museums because the opinions
of the artists are of public interest.

We need the artist's comments now. Let us give them spaces to show us what
they think about today's news, i.e. the war.

Thierry Geoffroy / Colonel/Cph 18/02/2003