This is a contribution to the concept of a 'club of responsible artists'. It first gives some hints and definitions about the notion of 'responsibility' and specifications in the context of organisations, then remarks to the relation of artist and society, finally conclusions for the said club.

I. Responsibility

Firstly responsibility is about responding, to a question. This question will address a concrete event, action, communication or idea, so it will not be philosophical. Responsibility is less the ability to give (good) answers in a real conversation but more a preparation, willingness, and attitude to respond, possibly, in the future. Nonetheless, the preparation-to-respond may have implications on current thinking, behaviour, organisational structure and actions. A responsible attitude is not connected to a specific person or role posing the questions, but rather to an unspecific questioner. Responsibility is not to be confused with morale, an ethical attitude or righteousness (a mafia killer may act responsible without complying to any of the other virtues)


From the perspective of the individual the process of stepping into responsibility is two-folded:

  1. The individual gains self-consciousness
  2. He takes a role in an organisation or community
  3. In this role he speaks and acts as a person-in-social-context > responsible

Each of the two transitions 1>2 and 2>3 demands a learning process and respectice conditions.


In the context of organisations the scope of responsibility becomes wider: - A responsible position is not connected to the individual person but to an organisational role - Defining, transfering or dropping such a role is one process, filling it with responsibility another - While the handling of roles can be technically defined in organisations, the handling of responsibility can not, because there is always an implicit (unspoken) element involved - A complete understanding of this process demands abstraction between individual and role - A complete understanding of the process is, on the other hand, not neccessary to fill out a responsible position

II. Artist and society

The position of an artist to society is not different from any other member of society. The notion of responsibility is often used as a permanent challenge for individuals or organisations in order to improve universal values - for example protect the environment, the human rights, save energy. This success of this kind of responsibility can not be measured and is not limited to a defined scope in time or scale. In a concrete and process-oriented application, responsibilty becomes more a tactic for organising - we may call it 'concrete r.'.

From many definitions of art a popular one is that art be the field where most freedom may be realised, freedom of ethical, organisational or economic constraints. This implies that art, artists and works of arts may as well be irritating, provocative or destructive as they may be entertaining, pleasing or creative.

The responsibility of art can be seen as symbolic communication with the aim to further progress, ask questions, irritate the status quo, demonstrate alternatives, inspire.

III. Implications for a club of responsible artists

For an artist committing himself to responsibility, the two-folded character of the basic nation applies as well:

  • First fold: From individual perspective to social - understanding the responsibility to further the society with a maximum of freedom.
    "Good art" in this sense may be described as: effective, inspiring, aesthetic, involving.
  • Second fold: Respecting the attitudes, beliefs or rules of other individuals or communities (in the society), and what happens alongside the art actions or communications.

Version 1.0 - Berlin, February 2013 - bernd_brincken

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