Dogma 2005




Before I start, and just so there is no doubt, I would like to state that, ‘Dogma 2005’ is a dogma, not a manifest. ‘Dogma 2005’ does not want to tear, break, destroy nor surpass. No longer is there something that deserves the effort of being torn, broken, destroyed or surpassed. ‘Dogma 2005’ only wants to exist. Before I start, and just so there is no doubt, I would like to state that ‘Dogma 2005’ is a title I have confiscated without permission to “Scandinavian hand-held camera cinema”, and it is just that: a title. ‘Dogma 2005’ is called ‘Dogma 2005’ because it is a dogma, and because it was created in 2005. Ten years after Lars von Trier’s dogma, ‘Dogma 2005’ comes out and states: down with contemporary ephemeredes, down with contemporary classics, down with contemporary repertoire, down with the anachronic and obsessive attempt to surpass the contemporaneity crisis. Today, November 16th 2005, ‘Dogma 2005’ comes out to state: long live the post-modernist skeptics! Today, November 16th 2005, ‘Dogma 2005’ is born just to be itself: a dogma that is born in 2005, ten years after the previous one. ‘Dogma 2005’ does not want to be like Lars von Trier when he grows up. ‘Dogma 2005’ wants to be a grown up when it grows up. ‘Dogma 2005’ was not created to be a saviour. ‘Dogma 2005’ was created to finally extinguish the rotten institutional zombies that still breathe. Nonetheless, ‘Dogma 2005’ is not pro-death. ‘Dogma 2005’ is pro-life. It is an alternative “life-style”. A life that does not let itself be invaded by the fetid stench of the institutional zombies that still breathe. A life that does not want to believe in anything, apart from itself. A life that feeds from itself; that implodes each time it appears; that dies, so it can be born once again. A life that has nothing important to say about, apart from the exegesis inherent to its own existential condition. A life that does not believe in other dogmas apart from the one that sustains its foundation. A life skeptically lived. A discredited live. A life that passed away. Today, November 16th 2005, ‘Dogma 2005’ comes out and states: “Art is over now, but is not dead!”: the name still exists. Let’s look at it, then:


If we can no longer go on with History, let’s join it! Let’s live with it! Let’s die with it! ‘Dogma 2005’ admits the presence of those institutional corpses, but does not admit their strength! Today, November 16th 2005, ‘Dogma 2005’ is born to say: “Oh Father — 20th Century —, forgive them!; for they know not what they do.”





Art is not dead. What actually died was a certain art narrative. At the beginning of the 21st century, any artist who wishes to deserve the name “artist” has the duty to carry out the summary of the decades that preceded him, proposing alternatives that may respond to the post-historical ‘air du temps’.


The supposedly “anti-bourgeois” art became actually “bourgeois” many years ago. The post-historical ‘air du temps’ mentioned in the previous statement does not tolerate the continuous growth (just like an uncontrollable plague of poisoned mushrooms!) of new authorship romanticisms, attached to artistic formulations that are still modernist.


The 21st century means the total democratization of artistic practice. ANYBODY can make artworks. For ‘Dogma 2005’, art is not individual. Only through people’s free access to the mechanisms that structures the artworks can contemporary art free itself from the dominant artificiality and the bourgeois and individualist posture of making art.


The spectators’ participation and commitment are the motto. It is not possible, either for artists or curators, to choose an art that is partially social; as if art was not already in society or as if it was not socially functional.


Art has been clearly transformed into a thinking process. People that want to have fun should go to a club. People that want to spend a good time should call their friends. People that want to leave their problems behind should see a psychiatrist.




I, [artist’s name], hereby undertake the obligation to comply, throughout the phases of my work process, with the following rules, duties and interdictions, comprised in ‘Dogma 2005’, and to which I must submit my project blindly:


There are no themes. The subject of the project must deal with the project itself, as well as the social, political and institutional context that allows it to exist. The artist is forbidden to start the project with pre-conceived ideas.


If there are pre-conceived ideas, these are in the project and in the surrounding context, never in the artist.


By “pre-conceived ideas”, one means both immaterial entities (conceptual figures of various kinds), and material entities, such as texts, objects, clothes, music, performers, etc. When existing, those entities must be provided through the context, never through the suggestion of the artist’s intelligence.


It is then inferred by the previous sub-rules that there are no “performers” (in the classical sense of the term). The only performer is the work itself. This is to say, the work “performs” itself. The context “performs” itself. The project, in the theoretic sense of the term, is the only possible “performer”.


It is the project as ‘idea’ and the context as ‘idea’ that supply the materials, which will give a form to the process. The result, when existing, shall be the possible demonstration of those materials, in a well documented manner, clear and concise, in more or less “performative” events, unrepeatable and temporally unlimited. The intelligence of the artist can never surpass the immaculate immanence of the materials themselves.


If a critical and/or parodist understanding on the contemporary artistic practices or the institutional contingencies surrounding the artist exists, that same understanding is already in the idea of ‘Dogma’ itself. Therefore, it shall not be necessary to do more than what ‘Dogma’ already does by itself.



“In order to understand an artwork, the audience must be equally creative” [once said Marcel Duchamp, from whose heritage we have not already freed ourselves]. ‘Dogma 2005’ takes on the audience as one of the elements of the context that surrounds the project and the artist; therefore, the role of the audience becomes of identical or superior importance to that of project and artist. In the end, the last word wil always be that of the spectator, the greater responsible for the validation and legitimation of the artistic work.


The participation and commitment by the spectator towards the artwork, independently of its “format”, is an obligatory dimension of all the projects built under ‘Dogma’ rules.


The artist must yield his autonomy before the created (or under construction) artwork in favour of the sharing of each one of its parts with the audience. That same audience shall be given the power to change the course of the work, in any given moment of its participation and commitment.


As inferred by the sub-rules presented previously, the ‘social/collective’ shall always be superior to the ‘individual/personal’. The ‘artist/creator’ is no longer an ‘artist/nor creator’ just because he imposes his personal taste and transforms that same taste into the raison d’être and the strongest foundation of his actions and intentions. The greatest responsibility belongs to the spectator (“usufructuary”); the average responsibility belongs to the project and the context (first-rate stimulators/inspirers); the artist is only a mediator.


The artist is, therefore, prohibited to impose his aesthetic, philosophical, and metaphysical concerns, in detriment of the concrete existence of the project, the context and the spectators. The ‘personality’ of the project is more important than the ‘personality’ of the artist.


The main goal of ‘Dogma’ is the construction of artworks that before being designated as “artistic” must be designated as “problematic”. Hence, the inevitability of the abandonment of any ‘spectacular’ and/or entertaining aspect of the object produced.


In what concerns the “public presentations”, all sorts of purist worries in relation to art ‘forms’ and ‘formats’ are drastically eliminated. Both shall be chosen according to simple criteria: choose the ones that are obviously, easily and directly the best ones regarding what the project wants to convey.


Two important foundations are inferred when taking into account the previous sub-rule:


Video, photography, word, movement, etc., are supports/means, not objects/ends. All and any disciplinary field (better said, ‘disciplined’ territory) can never justify the action that leads to the project. The project is already action, i.e. the project is the discipline; hence, the project is the name of the thing.


In conclusion to the previous sub-sub-rule, ‘Dogma 2005’ foresees the total abandonment of any conventional denomination that may categorize the work he is doing.


However, ‘Dogma’ does accept alternatives!


A “problematic” object is a “problematized” object and infinite in its “problematization”… This is to say, it is a ‘thinking’ object. There is no point in saying that one is laboratorial. There is no point in saying that one is experimental. One ALWAYS is. Everybody knows that. Therefore, ‘Dogma 2005’ rejects redundant assumptions towards the artistic work.


The thorough investigation within the scope of the subjects with which one creates the artwork is not a subsidiary action of a potential result; it is, in fact, ALREADY the result. Any public presentation (more or less “performative”) will always be subsidiary to that initial investigation.


Only theoretically can the investigation be called ‘initial’. Actually, it should accompany the entire process. Nevertheless, the artist is forced to remove all the contextual/institutional conventions that “formalize” the investigation work, in order to create autonomously the system that may be the faithful reflection of the idiosyncrasies of the project to develop. It is possible to do a meticulous research and only find the methodology in the end.



It is through ‘real’ things, it is with ‘real’ objects, it is with ‘real’ words that the artist must work with. There is no room for falsity. There is only place for fiction: the life of an artistic project created in a fictional manner following the flow of its own structures, fed by its own myths, by its own simulations.


The life of the artist is “real life”. And real life is part of the creation process.


The time mentioned in this text is the time that elapses, or the time that caused the present time, as if the immediate past, referring to the work, was more important than the work itself, annulling it dialectically and ‘ad aeternum’.


Everything that happens in our daily life, since being fictionally “structured”, and that the usual tendency tends to annul, is extremely important. The glass is not less important than the water. ‘Dogma 2005’ supports an authentic, non-disguised agglutination between life and artistic work.



The artist that undertakes to create an artistic object under the scope of ‘Dogma 2005’, is compelled to use the following set of operative concepts in order to legitimize all the decisions to take and the final discourse upon it:

Archive — Documentation — Object vs. Residue — Memory — Spectator vs. Spectator-Creator — Authorship — People vs. Life — House vs. City — Public vs. Private — Context vs. Project — Site-Specific vs. Body-Specific vs. Life-Specific — Intention vs. Compromise vs. Will — More/Less Infinite — Present — Reality vs. Fiction vs. Narrative — Specialization vs. Interdisciplinarity — Performative Justice — Performative Laziness

For the sake of ‘Dogma 2005’
Rogério Nuno Costa

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Lisbon, Wednesday, 16th November 2005




The full text that gives shape to this document: introduction, statements, dogmatic rules and conclusion are duly protected. It is not allowed to copy, publish or quote without the author’s previous consent. Any infringement is punishable by law. Furthermore the text does not allow any kind of counter-argumentation, since it is wrapped in itself, as it is intrinsically any dogmatic text. I cannot avoid all kinds of comments, opinions and analyses made upon the text, but I will refuse to respond to any of them. However, ‘Dogma 2005’ can be used by any artist, no matter the artistic field, as long as he is duly credited, by means of a previous authorization (requested at least 60 days before the beginning of the activity), and through the payment of a symbolic fee of €10 per project. Even though ‘Dogma 2005’ was written having in mind the creation of an alternative for theatrical theory and practice, all kinds of artists can also use it. Notwithstanding, and as in any set of written rules, the ‘Dogma’ is susceptible of being interpreted by those that shall use it. For more information concerning the rules and regulations for the correct use of ‘Dogma 2005’, please contact: