Archive for the ‘Art & Politics’ Category

[originally posted on my Facebook time line 6. October 2018]


in 2018 of the idea of
Auto-Destructive Art
by Gustav Metzger (1959/1961)
Banksy artwork self-destructs after selling at auction for £1m 1,883 – Guardian News Published on Oct 6, 2018: Girl With Balloon, a well-known Banksy artwork, is the final item in an auction at Sotheby’s in London. Shortly after selling for £1.04m, the canvas passes through a shredder installed in the bottom of the frame…
Good overview on Gustav Metzger at this website/page: https://monoskop.org/Gustav_Metzger

[added contextual comment]
I did participate as a young man in the 1966 DIAS (Destruction In Art) symposium in London… so it struck me immediately that this was also a hommage to Gustav Metzger (as well as market-conspiracy (including Sotheby’s) with a double meaning re-valuation of a neatly (half threaded) work; mind you there have been many who started of with shifted around cut-ups of their work… the Czech poet/writer/artist Jiří Kolář being a famous one = http://www.tresbohemes.com/2017/08/the-striking-collages-of-jiri-kolar/) it also fits in the situ ‘détournement’ tradition a product from post WWII surrealist Lettrist actions & theory predating the Gustav Metzger first Auto-Destruction Manifesto of 1958)…
My visual lecture from the year 2000 traces back this idea of temporarity and the act itself as the artistic moment: http://imaginarymuseum.org/PTA/index.html (sroll number III tackles the ‘reification’ of the artistic gesture…)

What is misunderstood in most comments is that the art work is realised only at the moment of its self-destruction. Auto-destructive art is momentary art, whereby the act is the work and not the reification.

On 17. October this video with the full story was published on YouTube
“Shredding Banksy’s the Girl and Balloon – The Director’s Cut”


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KUNSTENAAR ROB SCHOLTE ONDER DWANG UIT ZIJN MUSEUM GEZET “luctor et emergo” zo weten de geuzen in de kunst….
… tevens kunstroof door de strandjutter van Den Helder burgemeester Koen Schuiling…..

Zie: https://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/kunstenaar-rob-scholte-onder-dwang-uit-zijn-museum-gezet~a4593835/

Zie ook: ROB SCHOLTEN’S SLAG OM DEN HELDER, April 16, 2018

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Rob Scholten’s SLAG OM DEN HELDER is tot nog toe niet meer dan gebulder van pers-cannonades… wil Scholtens museum heelhuids uit de strijd komen, zoals bij de zeeslag bij Den Helder beter bekend als de ‘Slag bij (het Fort) Kijkduin’ van 1673 – dan behoeft hij meer munitie….
Teken de petitie via: http://robscholtemuseum.nl/teken-open-brief/

PS het schilderij links laat de Slag bij Kijkduin/Den Helder zien, rechts is een Turniaanse remake van de brandende kwestie van het Den Helders gemeentehuis... waar onbetrouwbare wethouders en zwakmoedige gemeenteraadsleden hun laffe beleid bepalen… de lokale kongsi’s en rotary-clubs regeren dit stadje in de kop van Noord Holland… het kanon is een bruikleen van het Rijksmuseum Amsterdam…

tijd voor een frisse windvlaag daar… die permanente tegenwind beloofde Scholten in juni 2017 in een interview en artikel over zijn museum in de Volkskrant, geschreven door John Schoorl:

Den Helder is de meest gezagsgetrouwe stad van het land, nergens anders dan in deze marinestad is het geloof in koning en autoriteit groter dan hier. Daar moet iets tegenover staan, zegt hij: opstandige kunst van een vertegenwoordiger van de tegencultuur. Daarom past hij hier, als Rob Scholte, hij is de andere kant die ze nodig hebben om alles in balans te houden.

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in red: but who called her? … and what is her calling

For those who can read Dutch my article published on the 17th of April 2014 at the moment when Beatrix Ruf had just been appointed. Title: “Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: Beatrix RUF her calling just in time, but who did call her and what is her vocation?” Indeed the title can hardly be translated into English as the German word ‘Ruf’ means call, ‘roep’ in Dutch and ‘roepen’ is verb meaning ‘to call/calling’, further the noun ‘roeping’ means in this context ‘vocation’.

The article is a documented analysis of the organisational structure of the Stedelijk Museum that was in origin (it’s best & most creative period) just a municipal museum for modern art as the name says. I explain the process of halfhearted privatisation, the practice of sponsorship by business tycoons and the double agenda strategy of those who invest and deal in art and use their position in the board of the Stedelijk Museum also to advance their social prestige and the market value of their art property.
My article questions the ‘world class’ status idea and the art-market-competition with a yearly list by the art-trade magazine Art Review of the “Power Top 100” in the art-market world in which Beatrix Ruf in 2013 held a 7th position, with Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Head of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and sister of the Emir, as number 1. [note 1]
When we look at the names listed in the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ (Call Ruf Back) advertisement) we see several names of those who have been listed in the Top 100 international art-market-championship. The opening name Marina Abramović is for instance number 5 on the 2014 list. It must be clear this is a partisan call for many on the list, more than just a lobby, it has many characteristics of the meanings embedded in the Chinese (Cantonese) word ‘kongsi’ 公司 a traditional clan like structure that evolved with the diaspora of Chinese migrants to a world wide system of common cultural bound paired with common economic interest. Not all the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ signatories do have a stake in the art market and several may have been attracted to pair their lesser known name with better known names (a standard phenomenon with all social-political advertisements in newspapers). [note 2]
I do have an alternative vision whereby I re-value the local over the international… as anything internationally acclaimed now, once had a local origin. Even miss Abramović was once local in Amsterdam – I do remember her as such far before she started to behave like a goddess doing these unbearable pretentious performances… (by the way she had the guts to send via social media a Kickstarter fund-raising appeal for some temple venue for her own glory in New York, if I remember well designed by another signatory of the Ruf list Rem Koolhaas, I had the dishonour to receive one of those appeals for money as well, what a shame!). [note 3]
How come that a municipal museum cannot have a director who has her or his roots first of all in the local and national art scene? That is a rhetorical question. The answer is that the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is not anymore in the first place a local cultural and educational institution, but an asset in the international art-martket and mass-tourism industry. The pleasures of local uniqueness has given way to the uniformity of what has been pepped up, by the kongsi, to be of “global value”…
Another element is that these ‘flown in from abroad directors and curators’ lack a local power basis and tend to be moldable material in the hands of either the co-opted museum board members or public administrators.
I do not pledge for any provincialism, on the contrary, I think that the whole business type of dealing with ‘art’ by attracting so called ‘famous’ curators from abroad claiming it a necessary step to reach the eagerly wanted status of ‘world class museum’, is in itself the uttermost provincial attitude to be found in the year 2018. It is sheer lack of imagination. It is lazy. It is proof of incompetence. It negates all chances of the unpredictable, the core element of any creative act. It is repetition of the same hailed names and styles, the world over. Nothing new will come from it.

[1] In the 2017 list Beatrix Ruf has fallen down to position 27 on the Top 100 list, with this comment: “Tireless curator and adviser, ex-director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. // It has turned into a tough year for Ruf, who just resigned from her position as director of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in the midst of alleged conflicts of interest between her institutional role and her broader activities as an adviser. While the effects of that remain to be seen, she nevertheless managed to develop a programme at the Stedelijk that navigates seamlessly between her usual focus on art’s next hot young thing and reexaminations of work by more mature practitioners, as recent shows for Jana Euler and Jordan Wolfson, but also Jean Tinguely and Ed van der Elsken, demonstrate. Furthermore, Ruf’s strength has always been her ability to operate as a meta-curator, in various advisory and panellist roles. In January, she launched the first Verbier Art Summit around the question of whether museums should consider ‘de-growth’, and she continues to be one of the core advisers to Luma Arles.”
See link…

[2] Advertisement in the local daily of Amsterdam Het Parool published Saturday 17. February 2018
[3] Last year the whole project was cancelled, let me cite an Abramović friendly source of October 6, 2017: “She will “probably sell” the building that was to become the $31 million Rem Koolhaas-designed center. Sarah Cascone, October 6, 2017 Marina Abramović with Rem Koolhaas’s model for the Marina Abramović Institute. © OMA. Citing a fundraising failure, Marina Abramović has announced that she will not move forward with plans to open a $31 million upstate New York facility for the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). In a talk hosted by Fondation Beyeler and UBS at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery on Wednesday, the performance artist revealed that she had been unable to raise the money necessary to convert a 1936 former theater in Hudson into a center for durational performance art and multidisciplinary collaborations, as reported by the Art Newspaper.” See link…
There were also less friendly reactions after the raising of money for a project that flopped, which is a common occurrence now with fund-raising actions using social-media and the internet, an ideal becomes crooked very soon. Like this header in the New York Post of November 11, 2017: “Marina Abramovic raised $2M for canceled art project, hasn’t given money back (…) The artist is present but the cash is gone.”
Interesting to note how Rem Koolhaas has made sure he at least is paid, because he can be in everything, but not in charity:
“… last month the artist revealed she was abandoning the project, after learning the price tag had mushroomed to $31 million. Her surprise announcement left residents of Hudson and shocked donors questioning what she did with the cash. In addition to the 2013 Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $660,000, her non-profit institute raked in $1.5 million in donations between 2011 and 2015, tax filings show. Jay-Z gave “a substantial donation” to the Kickstarter campaign, according to press reports. He did not respond to a request for comment last week. Some Kickstarter donors complained that they did not receive their promised rewards for contributing to the institute and others wondered how their contributions were spent, if at all, and wanted an accounting. When asked if Abramovic would return the cash, a spokeswoman for the artist said all the money raised through Kickstarter, plus additional funds, went to pay Koolhaas’s firm.”
See link…
To close off this footnote on the first signatory for the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ campaign of Mariana Abramavić, I cite a source that has asked Abramović for a reaction and did get back some accounts details on the failed project, in spite of its name the blog ‘Vulture – devouring culture’ gives her a chance to reply on November 14, 2017:

“This is terrible for me,” Abramovic said, before detailing how she personally contributed $1.1 million of the $2.2 million the institute raised. “The majority of those funds were direct contributions of my own money, which I earned as an artist.” As for the Kickstarter, which raised $661,452 (after Kickstarter’s administrative fee: $596,667), the purpose of that money was clear on the page: “This Kickstarter will cover the first phase of MAI’s development: the design process.” And that went toward the bill for Koolhaas’s firm for the schematic design (which cost $655,167.10). Artnet reported last week that backers wouldn’t be getting refunds.”

The conclusion of this article is nevertheless critical:
“Still, the Post is right about one thing: the understandable frustration that Hudson residents feel that the big, much-hyped building in the middle of town remains empty and dilapidated and full of pigeons. But it proved to be a money pit — $700,000 for asbestos alone — in addition to the unfeasible ambitions of the Koolhaas design itself. And so the institute will sell it, and focus on its traveling circus of projects around the world.”

The financial reeling & dealings of the first signatory of the campaign to restore Beatrix Ruf back in power are far from transparent. Is it her inflated personality that made Abramović undertake a project that was beyond her means? Can one say that someone who is able to raise a million or so from her own pocket is ‘naive’? How did she manage to have such personal capital? Certainly not by being naive. So we read that another signatory of the Pro-Ruf kongsi advertisement, Rem Koolhaas, did get his money for a plan that local observers in New York describe as the “unfeasible ambitions of the Koolhaas design.”

We locals do remember also newspaper articles about the costs of architect Rem Koolhaas who has been commissioned during the Beatrix Ruf ‘Stedelijk Museum directorship’ about an exceeding of a budget for interior museum redesign, originally estimated for 0.9 million costing 2,9 million in the end.
“De nieuwe collectie-opstelling van het Stedelijk was zo’n 2 miljoen duurder dan vooraf was aangekondigd, blijkt uit een brief aan de gemeente. (…) Stedelijk Base, de nieuwe collectieopstelling die door Koolhaas is ontworpen en op 16 december wordt geopend, heeft bijna 2,9 miljoen euro gekost, zo’n 2 miljoen méér dan was aangekondigd. De inrichting van de 1.100 vierkante meter grote kelderruimte duurde ook niet drie tot vijf maanden, zoals aangekondigd, maar ruim veertien maanden. Daardoor waren er veel langer dan gepland geen tentoonstellingen te zien.”  NRC 7.12.2017


All this side-references and -effects are a good illustration of the ‘world class museum’ concept and its propagators it leaves us with a
tapestry of interwoven ideals and personal gain
that can not be disentangled.

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Republishing of an article I published on August the 29th, 2013, on my Flickr news-tableau pages, it is bilingual (English in the lower part) it had 3110 views at that time. As it is relevant in the actual discussion on the demise of the next Stedelijk Museum director Beatrix Ruf 2014-2017, I republish it here…)

Ann Goldstein vertrekt na amper drie jaar als directrice van het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Je hoeft geen Nederlander te zijn om artistiek directeur van een Nederlandse kunstinstelling te wezen, maar als iemand niet verweven is met de wereld van een museum dat niet voor niets Stedelijk Museum heet, dan mag het niet verwonderen dat het geen levenstaak wordt, maar gewoon een baantje als opstap naar een volgende trede in een carrière.

Het was de drang naar ‘internationalisering’, de wat zielige grootheidswaanzin van “Amsterdam Wereldstad”, waardoor gekozen werd voor iemand ‘van buiten’. Hierdoor vielen de eigen krachten van stad en land buiten het blikveld en kreeg de ‘internationale stijl’ – die er uiteindelijk overal hetzelfde uitziet – de overhand.

Niet dat we eigenheimse kunst behoeven, maar als de moderne kunst zich enkel in een museum weet te manifesteren als het eerst ‘internationaal’ op de kunstmarkt ‘doorgebroken’, als alles ‘well established’ is voordat het getoond wordt, wanneer een kunstzinnig directeur het niet aandurft een geheel eigen keuze te maken, wars van bestaande opvattingen, dan wordt ook een bezoek aan zo’n museum niet meer dan “een koude douche in het stedelijk badhuis.”

Of… zou het kunnen zijn dat bestuurders en subsidiegevers willens en wetens curatoren en directeuren van buiten halen, als mensen die geen eigen ‘circuit’ hebben in de plaats van aanstelling, als gewillige uitvoerders in plaats van eigenzinnige beleidsmakers.
Ann Goldstein leaves after hardly three years as director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Museum of Modern Art Amsterdam).


One does not need to be of Dutch origin to become director of an art institution in the Netherlands, but when someone is not involved with the world around a specific museum, a museum that – purposely – carries the name Stedelijk Museum (municipal/city museum), then it comes as no surprise that a director post will not become a lifelong dedication, but just a job that serves as a stepping stone for a personal career.

It was an urge for acquiring international status, this somewhat pitiful grotesque idea of Amsterdam as a “World City”, that made the authorities chose ‘an outsider’. Local and national potentials were thus excluded form view and ‘international style & fashion’ – that in the end looks alike everywhere – became predominant.

Not that we are in need of ‘local-yokel’ art, but when modern art in a museum is only able to manifest itself when it first has managed to make a break through at the international art market, when all is ‘well established’ before it will be shown, when an art director does not have the guts to make an original personal choice, in disregard of existing opinions, then a visit to such a museum has the effect of “a cold shower in the municipal bathhouse.”

Or… could it be that board members and subsidy-providers purposely take new curators and directors for their institutes from the outside – without their “own” local support circuit – as amenable executives, in stead of willful policy makers.
Een lijstje van het bewind van Stedelijk Museum directeuren van na WWII laat zien hoe dit vak en deze roeping in de loop der jaren verbrokkelde en tot niet meer werd dan een kortstondige management taak van een cultuurfabriek:

A list of the reign of Stedelijk Museum directors after WWII shows how this profession and mission has crumbled over the years into not much more than a short-time management job of a cultural factory:

– 1945 – 1963 = 18 jaar: Sandberg (1897-1984)
– 1963 – 1985 = 22 jaar: De Wilde (1919-2005)
– 1985 – 1993 = 8 jaar: Beeren (1928-2000; worked till his pension age)
– 1993 – 2003 = 10 jaar: Fuchs (1942-)
– 2003 – 2005 = 2 jaar: Van Beers (1941-; interim directeur)
– 2005 – 2009 = 4 jaar: Van Tuyl (1941-)
– 2010 – 2013 = 3 jaar: Goldstein (1957-)

De achtergrond is een hergebruikt beeld van een tableau dat ik verleden jaar bij de opening van het vernieuwde Stedelijk Museum publiceerde

The background is a recycled picture from a tableau I made last year for the opening of the renewed museum.

“Kranen open bij het Stedelijk” (taps open at the Stedelijk Museum) September 22, 2012 by Tjebbe van Tijen

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Iustitiae Languor/Justice Falls Down:
Indictment for Gaddafi but not (yet) for Assad makes one wonder and the symbol of Justitia as an impartial being came to mind and it made me  search in one of the emblemata databases for the word ‘justice’, this one popped up and though made in the 17th century it is still fitting four centuries later, where the geo-political situation in the world often gets out of control, like an unbridled horse.The emblem book (*) has the old German text on the facing page and it reads:

motto (de)
Gerechtigkeit gehet zu Grundt.
subscriptio (de)

GLeich wie ein wildes/ freches Pferdt
Stelt sich die Welt jetzundt auff Erdt/
Das wildt Pferdt leydet kein Gebiß/
Die welt die leydet kein Verdrieß/
Doch haßts vnd scheucht insonderheit/
Der Gesetz Recht vnd Gerechtigkeit.

A quick rendering of the somewhat obscure German – with an eye to the Latin – could read in English:

Like an untamed horse
The world puts itself on earth
A wild horse not bridled by a bit
A world not guided by remorse
But hating and dossing off especially
Law, righteousness and judiciary.


(*) Proscenium vitæ humanæ siue Emblematvm Secvlarivm, Ivcvndissima, & artificiosissima varietate Vitæ Hvmanæ & seculi huius deprauati mores, ac studia peruersissima. Versibvs Latinis, Germanicis, Gallicis & Belgicis ita adumbrantium … (1627, Frankfurt)

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A picture today in Aljazeera of the Green Square (1) in Tripoli struck me, it had a caption “People gather near a portrait of Gaddafi in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, before the explosions [Reuters]”. This news picture showed a huge street painting or print of Gaddafi and what seems to be a dwindling crowd around it. There is a fence around the picture that must be something like 50 by 250 meter in size. On the inside of the fence once sees guards posted at regular intervals. The picture shows Gaddafi in one of his hundreds of outfits, possibly the uniform of an air marshall  he wore when visiting the Italian president Berlusconi in June 2009. On the right side of his uniform jacket Gaddafi wears a gallery of medals and on the left the a photograph has been pinned on his uniform. The photograph shows the martyr of Libyan resistance Omar Mukhtar, the “Lion of the Desert”, on the day before he was hanged by his Italian colonial masters in 1931. A provocative statement for his host Berlusconi, who hugged  him nevertheless as he was about to make some big business deals with the Libyan leader.

The people around the fence at the Green Square in Tripoli in July 2011 look at the picture of this moment of theatrical revenge on the former colonial power, a picture that shows the leader completely, from his golden adorned cap to this shoes, with a saintly light blue glowing aura all around him. If one would not trust the strict editorial rules of Aljazeera and Reuter’s photo agency,  it could have been a photoshopped picture.

This made me think of the frontispiece of the book by Thomas HobbesLeviathan” published in the mid 17th century during the English Civil War, which describes the necessity of a sovereign authority to be accepted by all, to avoid ‘the state of nature’, everybody for themselves, a ‘war of all against all’ (Bellum omnium contra omnes).

For the sake of peace, the people, so did Hobbes argue,  had to make a social contract with an absolute ruler, best in the form of a king. The ruler in 1651 is depicted as an embodiment of ‘the people’. There is a crowd that marches from a landscape into the body of the ruler. The ruler has a sword in one and a crosier s used by priests in the other hand, showing he is in command both of state and church.

The display of the picture of the ruler as if he was a landscape, one could walk in, at the Green Square in Tripoli, has a similar function: Gaddafi as embodiment of the Libyan nation. Only, the aerial photograph unveils that it is but a meagre crowd assembled around their leader. It expresses how the maximum leader has inflated himself disproportionally to the feelings of embodiment by ‘his people’. In mathematical terms one can even speak of an ‘inverse proportionality‘, the more his popularity shrinks, the bigger his pictures.

The 17th century theory of state of Hobbes can still be used today, to understand the prolonged rule of dictators. There is some form of common interest, expressed in a social contract, by the ruler and his subjects. (2) How such a two dimensional state of affairs – ruler and ruled – may become a more diverse structure where more people can participate in the affairs of state, is apparently not well understood. The attempts of outsiders – like the Western coalition forces under NATO command – to kill the ruler have failed until now. Aerial bombing, even under the title of a UN mandate to protect civilians from attacks by their own ruler, are counterproductive. To deliver the idea of democracy to a nation does not work, or at least it takes many generations to wear off the effect of long distance destruction perpetuated by outside forces in one’s own country. (3) Interventionist regime change – as we witness for a few months now – does do little to empower the common people. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition forces are more and more filled with former supporters of the Gaddafi regime that try not only to evade the eminent purges after Gaddafi’s downfall, but also are preparing to continue the old rule, hidden under new revolutionary slogans.

The inflated picture on the pavement of the square of revolution in Tripoli of  the dictatorial ruler Gaddafi, serves more than one purpose. It glorifies him and at the same time it shows him as an ancient non-heriditary king who knows his days are counted when he hears the song in the streets: “the king must die“. (4) The ruler as scapegoat to cleanse the history of a nation. The ‘effigy of Gaddafi’  may serve an extra purpose, as a painting to be trampled on by thousands of feet in a direct release of anger , thus avoiding or diminishing the acts of revenge that accompany any change of regime.

(1)  Green Square named so after the Green Revolution coup d’état of Gaddafi in 1969 (Arabic: الساحة الخضراء‎ As Sāḥah āl Ḥaḍrā), also known as Martyrs’ Square (Arabic: Maidan Al Shohdaa‎); a downtown landmark at the bay in the city of Tripoli. Mainly constructed during Italian colonial times. Named Square of Independence during the short lived Libyan monarchy (1951-1969). On February 20th an anti-Gaddafi demonstration took place here, which was harshly suppressed. One source, a mortuary orderly from Tripoli who fled to Tunesia, later told the BBC that he saw hundreds of dead and wounded be brought into the hospital where he worked: “Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.”

(2)  This phenomenon is explained in another way one century earlier (1548) – and with more foresight – by Etienne de la Boétie in his “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude). Boétie notes  that “…the best and most virtuous man would not remain so if he ruled alone…” See also the study of David Lewis Schaefer “Freedom over servitude: Montaigne, La Boétie, and On voluntary servitude”, page 40, partly available at GoogleBooks.

(3) Incendiary carpet bombing of Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, imprecise precision bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(4) See the famous chapter of Frazer in his book the ‘Golden Bough’: “Kings killed at the end of a fixed term.”

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