Editorial 2005

At the beginning of the 19th century the romantic concept of art and literature as being the language of the inner self was to lead to an interplay of forces and principles, coming together to establish a new point of reference. This was no longer to be found in a framework of rules held together by value judgements such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ but rather in the authors’ and artists’ own selves. A new cult of ‘self’ became the intellectual norm of the romantic movement, not linked to a particular era but to the experience of living in times shaken by the most far-reaching changes in political and ethical systems imaginable. The artistic programme of the RuhrTriennale 2005 is concentrated on the simultaneous development of romantic inwardness and of the industrial age. Contemporary poets and thinkers saw the actual performance of work below ground as symbolic of a journey to the places that fears and desires hold in our consciousness., “We do not know the depths of our mind”, Novalis wrote, going on to derive from this a change in direction: “The mysterious path leads inwards”. In doing this he sketched the outlines later to be filled by the Romanticists. The hard, increasingly rapid rhythm of the young industrial society soon became so strong that literature could no longer ignore it. The RuhrTriennale has invited authors, directors, conductors, musicians and artists to set out on a journey back through time to the origins of the modern age. Their creations will revolve around found items from the early 19th century – a poem, a song, a fairytale, an abandoned room. Whatever else may resonate along with the concept of Romanticism, what is important is its challenge to artists to live out contrasts and disparities in works of their own creation. So that, at the end of the season, all one has seen, heard and experienced might be summed up by the poetic expression in which post-Romantic, early modern Rilke allowed introspection to collide with alienation: “It was that awesome underground of souls.”