[spectre] Netherlands must go to school
adsl487504 at tiscali.nl
Wed Jun 29 23:49:17 CEST 2011
It might be interesting to go beyond the status quo and think along the
lines of a more pro-active attitude. What could be done to contribute to the
reversal of the present situation of the visual arts in the Netherlands? I
take (visual arts + NL) as a case in point because this is what I know best,
and also because it is an extreme case from which extra learning can be
Probably the change should start with a serious self-critical discussion of
the art world and its failures in the - let us limit the scope - post-wall
period. Without trying to argue in favor of pretty-boy of Dutch politics,
premier M. Rutte (who said that artists were for a long time with their
backs turned to the public, and with their faces to the subsidies system),
we have to acknowledge the fact that a vast majority of the electorate
(about 70% of the voters surveyed) approved the anti-cultural measures
passed yesterday by the lower chamber.
It might be interesting to see that after about two decades of "relational
art" (I include here all types of projects that address more or less upfront
issues from politics, economy, finance, migration, colonialism etc. etc.),
the voters/viewers still do not recognize themselves in the discourse of the
artists. While all the topics debated by such art are high on the
philanthropic agendas of your average do-good Netherlander.
It is maybe time to see if exhibitions formats do work in the favor of
artists and their ideas, in the case that artists are interested to exert
some influence socially and politically.
It might also be useful to look at the economics of the visual arts (in
terms of investment-revenue), and see if it works/not in favor of
development. While the private art markets (outside of the Netherlands, I
have to stress) circulate large amounts of money , next to none of it comes
back into art reflection/production. Maybe a loop should be closed in that
Coming as I am from the late-stalinist Romania I would be the last to
advocate the social immersion as an expiatory solution for visual arts. But
still, it might be a problem that self-criticism has not been in favor
within this profession, which reached in the last 20 years (that is how far
back goes my personal international knowledge) the curious performance of an
overall gentrified mentality in an environment that operates usually on
rather low budgets.
So why not go back to school, and try to confront ourselves in the first
place, then our representational institutions and agents, and see if new
policies can be created which would give a stronger voice to the visual
community in relation with whatever other agencies?
Also, why not re-visit the utopias of the previous modernisms and call to
school various social categories that could learn from us and that could
bring us fresh knowledge? Something like evening schools for mutual
learning, that might work better than your usual politically correct public
commission which nobody sees and/or nobody cares about. Platforms where the
specific values that visual arts do not share with other cultural
manifestations can be highlighted and explained to the working class
(whatever that means, lately), to the small entrepreneurs and liberal
professionals, but also to those with top incomes. It might sound naive, and
I am ready to amend all written above for someone who puts on the table some
strategy that goes out of the boxes that we already know.
While all that has been said on this list (and others as well) in the last
weeks about the paradigm shift towards a more brutal, cynical and oppressive
type of capitalism is true, maybe we should close a good period of free
creativity and lesser responsibility with a U-turn and check if we can
invent new moves for the future. It would be a pity to just let things
happen with a lamento, and live the stage to peroxide, slightly jaded
political primadonnas, and to their protégés who design slick clothes and
sing sentimental schlagers.
I think it was Mallarmé who said "Tight shoes force you to invent new dance
Another modernist, that Mallarmé.
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