Workshop “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”

During the workshop “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”, the input of every participant (work or contribution) shall be discussed with all participants. In order to divide time equally and make the best of the other’s judgements, it is necessary that everyone who signed in for the workshop, be present the full time and attend every work presentations/judgements.


Everybody is welcome

Everybody is welcome to attend the art workshop: “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”. Everybody, not only art-students or those interested in art.

To participate, two things are necessary for everyone:

– it is necessary to engage in common work, discussions, exchange, thinking, judging.

– it is necessary to bring an input (work, contribution, something coming from oneself).


Structure of the workshop

Each participant brings an input, a work, something coming from her/himself: a text, an original-painting, a drawing, a song, a collage, a sculpture, a video or anything else. The participant chooses this work – only one – with the idea that it will be discussed according to the criteria “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”. The participant can choose to make a preliminary presentation of the input or not. Each work is discussed together. It is important that each work be discussed in equality, therefore it is important that all participants attend all the discussions – even if ones’ own input was already discussed.


Why “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!” ?

I can only do a school-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!”.


Judgement Criteria

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 teach 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.


About making “School”

This occasion to do a workshop is the opportunity for me to state my idea of what I think “School” should be: egalitarian, open to others, a commitment in being present, producing something, always together, all together, sharing time together and sharing clearly, from the guidelines established at start, sharing an experience, being engaged toward the other participants, knowing that each participant is important equally, even more that the “professor”. To me the workshop “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!” is a kind of model of what an ‘ideal-school’ should be.

The most important thing in art school is the other, the other – the students, the other – the family, the other – the friend. With “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!” the other is essential.


The goals of my workshop are:

– to encourage doing a work,

– to be ready to have it judged,

– to trust ones’ own – very own – judgement.


Thomas Hirschhorn, 2013