... our research allowed us to outline certain conclusions:
1) Solidarity may be provoked as part of a cultural and artistic activity, if the said activity happens based on a social, i.e. cultural, religious or class difference and sets in motion tensions caused by this difference by programming cooperation of people representing such difference. Active encounters of differences in order to reach a common objective (preparation of an event, artistic or cultural activity) is the first step towards rebuilding social solidarity using cultural tools.
2) It is necessary to shift the mindset from thinking about solidarity as a reaction to a crisis of another subject towards solidarity manifesting as building relations with another subject. To make it possible, organizational framework needs to be redesigned together with material infrastructure and interfaces that would form the basis for developing social solidarity. This is how we approach culture: it has greater chance of affecting how the social solidarity practices emerge and consolidate if it provides material foundations, tools that would act as a scaffold for erecting solidarity as a relation, and not only a reaction. Culture should also be able to develop and provide scenarios for social solidarity activities, a sort of dramaturgy, narrative, practical clues on how to carry out collective processes aimed at development and consolidation of social solidarity practices.
3) Thus, we find it is an imperative to rethink the category and the practice of performance which in our opinion has incredible potential as an artistic genre that can be taken over from the avant-garde culture and adopted to serve popular social culture focused on creating communities. Performance is an activity; it stimulates all senses of the participants and has a transformational potential. If aptly applied in the area of culture dedicated to solidarity, it may bring incredible results in future.
4) Other performative genres that in our opinion bring hope as far as provoking social solidarity is concerned, are the ludic genres, referring to dance, collective celebrations, carnival-related practices. Apart from the qualities of a performance they also apply laughter and humour as tools to slightly crack identity and subjectivity.
5) Last but not least, before we as creators of culture take on the task of establishing the new paradigm for cultural practices that will contribute to the restoration of social solidarity we need to fight for the reform of the culture itself, for creating conditions that will allow us to focus on the positive social impact instead of the everyday struggle for survival and concern about the future caused by insecure, precarious conditions of our own work. Without cultural organizations founded on the logic of solidarity, social culture does not have any chance to impact the solidarity of European societies.
This last point that we mention has not only the sociological, but also a deeply philosophical dimension. Solidarity is a function of the subject; only by being a subject, i.e. a person who has control over his or her life, we are able to bridge with another subject. When we do this, our subjectivity is complemented, we become even more ourselves. All in all, solidarity constitutes the subject; only if we are able to act in empathy with others, we can be certain to have control over our own life. The stake in any analysis of culture and solidarity is Europe, our society, politics, our cultures. In the end, however, the final stake here is us, our dignity and the meaning of our lives altogether.
This final excerpt is from a paper based on the action research carried out by an international group of researchers and artists across Europe in 2018 as part of the Culture for Solidarity project. You can now access the final version of this participatory-action-research in both English and Polish. Soon we will also publish the Spanish version.
Read the final English document in PDF
Read the Polish version in PDF
Information on the project - English website