Discussion | Phunst


The need to communicate obviously goes back to prehistoric times. But our purpose in communicating is not just to survive – primitive gestures and grunts would do here. Language, writing, music, drawing, theatre and dance are all forms of expression aimed at fulfilling a ‘higher’ need. To strive for the ideal of a better life, meaning change.

The meaning of life is what you make it to be.

Stephen Hawking

Science and technology have arisen from ideas, born from our minds and conceived from the imagination. This is the basic ability for working as an artist. It could also be argued that everything existing in the realm of imagination is art, part of an intellectual process that witnesses to another dimension of time. Imagination has nothing to do with the present reality but everything with the wish to either reinterpret or change that reality, with processes that draw out attention to the future.

Future possibilities are thus always the concern here. This process necessarily transports us from the realm of knowledge – we have after all no knowledge of what lies beyond our reality – and into the realm of belief. What we believe and consider possible is not a trivial matter, because that is the source of our future. Had nobody believed it would be possible to build an aircraft, we wouldn’t have any today.

Those who don’t swim against the current never reach the source.

Peter Tille

The purpose of art used to be to glorify God, or to decorate everyday objects and increase their value. Art is therefore more than simply a system of aesthetic symbols to aid us in communicating and to decorate our lives but also a quest for meaning and value. Contemporary art continues to degenerate to a mere status symbol, so subject to commercial dictates that it has become useless as a vehicle for change. 

When it comes to life’s essential questions, science and technology are also of no help but offer only wealth (to a chosen few) as well as just enough of certain conveniences to avoid any revolutions (by the others). But we pay a high price, in terms of environmental pollution, wars for resources and climate change – to name only a few.

To avoid our demise, we can’t wait any longer before we renounce the growth dogma promoted by the capitalistic world-order and develop a new set of ‘beliefs’ (ethics). This will take more imagination than capital – along with a touch of humour, of course. We need Phunst not art (Phunst statt Kunst)!


Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there’s no will, there are excuses.

Götz Werner

Phunst is neither the philosophers’ stone nor the cure to all ills. It is merely an attempt to shift imagination (Germ. Phantasie) – the source of humankind’s creative energy – into the focus of a new value system, opening the door to new and unusual perspectives.

About the author

short and pithy

“In my day artists wanted to be outcasts, pariahs. Now they are all integrated into society.”

– Marcel Duchamp

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