“Energy: Yes! Quality: No!” (2013)
Why “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”?
I can only do a project about something I believe in. I know what has energy; I know where there is energy. “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!” is one of my guidelines as an artist. It is an affirmation, it is something constitutive for my work and I have always been faithful to it. “Energy: Yes!” is the assertion that things which have their own energy are important. Energy is what counts, Energy is what I can grasp, Energy is what I can share and Energy is what is Universal. “Energy: Yes!” is a statement for movement, for the dynamic, for invention, for activity, for the activity of thinking. I want to say “Yes” to Energy as such, Energy as the idea of a possible accumulation, as a battery. It is about saying “Yes” to something without establishing an exclusive criterion. I use the term ‘energy’ as a positive term because it includes the other, it is beyond good and bad – even bad energy is Energy – and Energy is situated beyond cultural, political, aesthetical habits.
“Energy: Yes!” is to oppose thinking in terms of ‘quality’ and the criteria of Quality.
I am against the label Quality, everywhere, and in Art also of course. Therefore I propose to follow the guideline “Quality: No!” and oppose it to: “Energy: Yes!”. But, “Quality: No!” is the refusal to be neutralized by the exclusive criteria of Quality. Quality is the luxury reflex to keep a distance with everything which doesn’t have Quality. I don’t know what has Quality, nor where there is Quality. As an artist I refuse to adopt the term ‘quality’ for my work and I don’t want to apply it to the work of others. Quality is always a try to establish a scale, to distinguish ‘high quality’ or ‘low quality’, but I don’t know, myself – today – what kind of work has Quality. I use the term ‘quality’ as a negative term, because it excludes others, because it’s only an ‘international thing’ and because it makes the distinction between good and bad. Quality is exclusive, luxurious and based on tradition, identity and particularism. I need another criterion – today.
Therefore I propose to follow, as a guideline, “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”.
I expressly use the term ‘judgement’ and don’t use the term ‘evaluation’. Today, a lot is produced, in all fields, but few people accept a judgement on their production. If you have the power to produce something, you must be ready to accept being judged for this production. Besides – at the opposite of ‘evaluation’ – a judgement is an engagement, something absolute, something which comes from the heart, something you can think about and build upon. In order to resist evaluation and being subject to it, we need to work out our own judgement, towards our own work, and towards the work of others as well. Contributing to an evaluation is not important – but to have my own personal judgement is essential, as an artist, but also as a human being. To me, ‘judgement’ is a positive term, but I am aware that it is often used negatively. Judging the work is never judging the person. Judging a work (my work/the work of others) is one of the keys to giving form, facing this judgement is one of the keys to asserting form – asserting form is the most important thing in Art.
My/our criteria of judgement is/are “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”. I want/we want to assert what has energy for me/ for us – I do not want/ we do not want to judge the Quality of something. I don’t want/we don’t want to tell the other what should have quality for her or for him. A person is never judged, the judgement is never personal, I/we only judge her/his work or her/his output. With this proposition I want to assert that, when you do something, you will be judged for what you are doing. And as part of the act of doing something, the judgement of this doing has to be held out – this is the grace. I am happy if my work is judged.
Thomas Hirschhorn, 2013