The continent formerly known as Europe

The continent formerly known as Europe

In the 20th century’s 90’s, deep in the bliss of spending in the name of consumerism (without a blush), the foundations were secured of what we are living now. Europe endorsed money as the major life value and its citizens were renamed into consumers; then the talk about (the) currency started and ruled over any other concern of the European existence.

This, the currency, was meant to be the main experiment and around it we saw all possible flaws sticking to the continent’s vessel. As real Europeans growing in self-criticism, should we first list the (criminal) flaws? Dublin 2 top of the list; the agreement regarding the refugees that touch land in Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, but also Hungary (till sometime ago); an agreement designed to protect the financially advanced, situated in the centre of this continent, at any cost (lives-dignity-resources). The economical flaws are equally crucial. Tax evasion (or accomplice to) as a person or as State; bribery and fraud counted in bills of hundreds or of millions (under this should we also mention the bonuses of bank managers in central continent?); corruption on the level of a police station officer or on systemic violations of citizens’ constitutional rights (e.g. strategic misinformation turning peoples against each other)?

Once flaws listed, every top meeting and every negotiation in Europe could start with reporting about the basics. On which ideas should we base our directions? What can your country contribute to the pool of historical knowledge and philosophical vision? The standard answer of eternal financial growth is here irrelevant; as it refers to an accountancy and investment bureau, not to the place that claims to defend democracy, etc. But the € union is systemically pushing humanities and culture to the side; starting by crashing the (university) studies that do not translate into present or future profit, those failing to produce present or future antagonistic individuals (humanities again). No need to mention the total dishonouring of the arts; though here more actors are involved. Governments are even applauded when scrapping in one go 40% of the spending on culture from their annual budget.

Europe was a continent and then, after multiple internal massacres, came the European community, then called union; then the Euro and the eurozone appeared. In this process, Greece received its share of benefits, while contributing – amongst a number of known and less known things – the name Europe, Ευρώπη. Within the recent dismay of everything Greek, and the non-memory of the people, the officials will cut off from the name, one way or the other.

On a time leap ahead, when our dear northerns will be visiting Europe, they can show their passports mentioning at forefront “citizen of €”, or else “citizen of the continent formerly known as Europe”.

P.S. 1 From the depth of my heart to a hero of my youth: Thank you Jean-Luc Godard, for your fiery defense for Greece and for the ideas that once seemed to unite this continent.

P.S. 2 This text was written in the midst of the Greek financial crisis. Since then, some things may have changed in the Greek situation; the tv has found other black sheep to point fingers at. I am not a journalist; my point remains.

the continent formerly known as Europe

Vive la République!

I believe in the peaceful anarchism of art.

To all those who dream of “armed resistance” within states that have learned to tolerate: where saying your opinion/ exclaiming your positions does not jeopardise your safety; where possible expressions of state oppression is in the critical discussion. When your opinion fires out violence by a mafia, be it economical, religious or dogmatic in any way, democracy has mechanisms and services to which you, we together, can appeal. Advocating for armed fight in such a state means that we are asked to put our destiny in the hands of persons who cannot be persuasive by using words and images, should they ever try.

Indeed, our Democracies fail to provide substantial education equal for all its members, or equal opportunities, yet do stand for it as principle. There is people’s blood shed (Vive la République!) for this principle and we consider it irreversible. Provocation by the pen and the imaginative image sided by a good laughter are meant to shake all parties brains in order to think; in present tense. What in life’s name haunts such killers?

P.S. Urgently: art and philosophy as main subjects in all schools

"we'll meet again", 100x150cm, S.K.
“we’ll meet again”, 100x150cm, S.Kapnissi, #jesuischarlie

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5 art scams exposed.

Just to add that lately the tariff has increased to around 500 Euros, per work (!!!). Maybe scam no 6 that preceded the mentioned ones, many galleries in Holland that have been charging the artists, very casually, since I first came here in the 90’s, maybe even before. Of course then the artists, or most of them, did not have a reason to react negatively as this fee could be claimed to the artists centres financed by the municipalities; tell me then who is scamming as a principle.

Polygon art

Scam 1:

January 2006

Good day to you. I will like to know if this painting  “man with wings” of yours is still for sale and to know the least price. However, i will make my payment with a cheek, so i will like you to provide me your contact details in the manner below…

If you reply to this, they will tell you that a check is waiting for you at Western Union, but they continue “I have a check of $5000,could you pay the difference first? ” At the Western Union the check is waiting, you pay the difference. Once you get your check it bounces.

Scam 2:

November 2013

Contact through  gallery website like
I found your beautiful painting  ‘two dogs’ on the site. It still for sale? I really love it and would like to buy it immediately for my father who is very…

View original post 350 more words

Greek public tv and principles (again)

On Tuesday evening 11 June, the government of Greece shut down the public broadcast channel, ERT.

Greek people are protesting against this action, showing their support to the thousands of the suddenly unemployed people of ERT, expressing their opposition to the authoritarian attitude of this government (which declares illegal anyone ready to fight for their work and civil rights) and preparing the ground for an ending of the irrational way of “saving” a country.

This action is unacceptable not only for the indifference shown towards the working people, the history of the land, or the feelings of the audience who consider the national radio/tv station as part of their common cultural heritage. This action is not against persons, it is against principles; and, alas, it falls under the league of fascism.

tv GR
tv GR

No principles no artists (and vice versa?)

We read in the press about corruption and we basically agree that it is a decay that must be eliminated. That stays there and we are satisfied that  justice as relevant authority will deal with it; anyway our western world is based on the principles of justice, equality, inclusion, etc. If it is so, then, mystery has entered our life again after it was vanished  through the rein of reason and the principles set by the Enlightenment in the 18th century. And mystery would somehow be attractive if it was a genuine spiritual action; unfortunately it is aligned with the power of money, legitimate money, that buy and sell people and their products. Reason and principles have no word in this trade. Look at the art market but even at the municipal policies about culture, here in advanced Netherlands.

The way of functioning of art centres falls under the category of legal corruption; this said without exaggeration nor by using a metaphor. If you have another description for an organization that is introduced as sole authority in this field in a city or a region (monopoly), receives exclusively  state or municipal subsidy for a specific goal (that is to promote the arts locally mostly), but functions as a closed corporate company based on exclusion rather than inclusion and tripping-up the people that it is supposed to assist, I do want to hear it. Are the heads of these organisations, that use public funds, elected? Is he/she appointed for a specific time span, for example 3 plus 2 years? Are the members of the commissions elected; do they work on voluntary basis or are they paid for their services? Should actors of the corporate world (in this case the galleries) be allowed to participate in the commission that judges an artist’s capability to be acknowledged by the organisation? Can a municipality exclude artists from the decision board that draws policies about their profession and about the content of their practice? If artists are excluded who then decides about the art direction of the city? Who gives them this authority and why? Reminding once more: they are using public funds and they draw the artistic map of a city!

I had my personal experience with Stroom but since artists in The Hague prefer to sit back when a colleague is hit on the head than speak up for their rights (own rights too), after protesting at first, I just continued my way looking from a distance. In private talks colleagues expressed their concerns and disdain for the fact that they were threatened to be kicked out Stroom because they do not exhibit that often and even when they exhibit it is mostly in places not recognised by Stroom. After the shutting down of the Free Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague (that was planned already years ago but waited for the moment that no one would react anymore) and even further reading in the BBK krant (Union of Visual Artists newspaper) the clearly set article by Hans-Joachim Schroter with the title “NULCULTUUR” (zero culture) about the closing of the artists initiative “De Krabbendans”, I think that the artists of this country should seriously sit and think about what happened to them and how they have allowed the little grey people to saw the tree from under their nests. Maybe, after all, sitting comfortably and looking only inward serves a system that promotes the destruction of principles in favour of a net of positions, power and authority. This net gives the minimum (have no doubt about that) to some of its subjects and then feels free to “invest” on works of show-off or on specific people or groups that belong to its own inner circle. The subjects are happy with the crumbs, the inner circle thrives.

But one day the crumbs are taken away too; we are already (or finally) there.

P.S. 1 Pushing culture and its fighters to the corner is not an innocent decision nor an action of neglect

P.S. 2 Principles have been mocked and replaced by the awe to the successful individual which consequently buried any sense of solidarity. Now that the authority is withdrawing its crumbs(in legally non-democratic ways) who is going to stand for us, eternally poor fool artists.

art decorating destruction
art decorating destruction

Art as product

Product is a word that shifted from being suspicious for triviality to being the confirmation of existence of nearly everything. The shifting happened so easily that whatever did not get the stamp was aborted as not recognizable; in any case as a thing or activity not acknowledged by the connoisseurs of the field. I cannot recall when this word accompanied by the cheering of the conversant first hit my brain. It is sure though that nowadays the word “product” lives glorious moments, rather years I should say. Is it the era of product and for how long is something to be decided later by historians; my concern is art as product: produced, packaged, tagged and sold.

In the same way as the artistic field became part of the culture industry (a product is attached to an industry), the artists are renamed art professionals; however it is not clear if this is just a matter of having a VAT number* or it goes deeper to the substance suggesting that we have to eliminate every amateurish element. Which again brings up a long conversation on how to justify the seriousness of someone who claims to be freed (and by her/his work is stimulating the brain, etc. of the spectator) from the pettiness of repetitive actions (called routine on professional ground) and in the same time is able to push a product in a highly competitive industry which merely targets the petty side of humans. It sounds complicated; and it is. So the curators filled the intellectual gap by letting the artist work at the production level and took over the actual end product, the synthesis of an exhibition. Some of us try again and again to persuade the artists that they can re-position themselves, but naturally we mostly fail, or our success is only temporary and sporadic.

Funny to see this written: the end result is not the final product. I will contemplate on this while putting in words the next article about how the notion of art as product leads to shameless exploitation of the artists.

* European tax number for freelance work, in this case

P.S. The images are from the geborgen kamers no 1, in Brandtstraat 158, Transvaal-The Hague, demolished in 2008. The exhibition itself was titled “geborgen kamers” (secured rooms) and presented as a dark space with objects/ shards. In one of the photos it’s me less than a week before giving birth to Mickey in front of the  “mirror newspaper”, a wall covered by newspaper articles of socio-political nature with small mirror-paper interruptions and the painting “do not press”.

Georg Baselitz comes out weak as his paintings

That the world of fine arts is sexist and one of the most conservative circles one can get caught up in has been obvious to me since my studies; there you had the guys seeing themselves as painters and  you also had the girls that could paint the poor ones; some of them pretty well (oh my…!). Of course women were expected to be out of any serious activity like squatting a common atelier…

Then we went out into the jungle, usually deprived of encouragement, trust and space to exist.

Of those  painters we were taught to admire, I would always skip Baselitz as a total cheater to the level of ridicule, with success nevertheless. His coming out stating that women cannot be anything in visual arts only shows what a weak insignificant mind he is; just like his paintings.

Now, let me continue reading my book upside down; they say it is good training against dementia.


Artist: employee of the year

With the crisis expanding to more European countries, even to the most “stable” ones, the issue of the status of artists and the positioning of their practice in society is coming up over and over, drawing several lines of thinking. Words like visionary or technocrat, as opposites, are heard about the politicians who may (not) find a solution to our problems, but for the arts the main worry is the cut of state subsidies or the ways for marketing art products. It is true that artists are forced to live in poverty either by being accepted solely as craftsmen either by being confused about what they are “allowed” to do for earning money. The confusion is mainly based on excluding any other activity except of the practicing itself on the pretext of professionalism. In that way, the artists become employees of the same political status that threw education to the gutter of professional training, declared humanities studies as irrelevant to our era’s demands and exclaimed profit as only measure of success. Not to think in this frame is nowadays called utopian leftism; accompanied by a little grin. As I see it, the only utopia remains the call of other more revolutionary times for being realists. Maybe the biggest challenge for the artists at this moment is to break the tag (with definition and instructions) that any authority has put on them and redefine their position. Otherwise, those who once carried the light will soon be applying for employee of the year.

Detail from the work in progress "Arcadia letters", embroidery on felt

You are what you sell

Whenever I come across articles about the ways that artists make their living, what comes out is a big frustration with the artists trying to defend their artistic entity while earning money one way or the other. The “other” way is usually the case, meaning that artists have to do all kinds of irrelevant jobs in order to live a liveable life. Since the artists were detached from the old world’s patrons system, this was the price to pay for the gained independence. So, the majority of artists live a split life between a few hours of paid work and their studio. They always have to be prepared to wear a costume which never really suits them. Or, they have to share drinks and pleasantries with rich people. There we classify artists that do earn a living from their work. What did you think, that this was crystal clear earnings without side-effects and without extra (non artistic) work? Orson Welles was saying that he had spent half of his life trying to find money to realize his artistic projects. The thing is that artists have a hard life anyway; even more because they have to be on the defensive towards people who pester them by questioning their artistic existence when they have to wash dishes in order to preserve exactly this existence. Artists tend to resemble to the aliens of the film “district nine”: monster-citizens of the third kind that sprawl out incomprehensible sounds and are aggressive (or passive) over the top in their hopeless defence. Do we identify ourselves with this description?

Artists’ professionalism goes in levels:

Creation – Publication (exhibition) – Selling

For performing arts, like music or acting, where time is an essential factor, meaning that the work is created in time simultaneously with the attendance of the audience, the level “publication” coincides with the level “creation”.

For visual arts, the creation happens (usually) out of sight. The work is done in private and then it goes to the next level which is to be exhibited. For the intellectual world this is enough for including this work and its creator in the chambers of intellectual creation.

A professional artist according to some, including our incredible art center of The Hague ‘Stroom’, is the one who sells their intellectual creation. I suppose the more you sell the more professional you are, plus that when you do not sell for a period you are not professional for that period.

Under this thinking: the most exploited (to disgusting extend) Dutch artist was never professional. Was he an artist, or what was he anyway?

Would the American abstract expressionists ever have been “professionals” if the American politics had not decided to create an ‘Americanism’ in the post–war art history?

Was Rimbaud a poet or a weapon dealer?

Even mentioning these artists, it comes to mind the ridiculous assumptions about art creation that people who have never put their hands in pigments, or never have spent a whole working day repeating their scales, or even more never have felt absolutely crashed by their own vision, come to. I have always ignored them, or fought (with) them.

What makes a professional artist is the depth of involvement: be there with your work, always, body and soul, even if you sell your body or your mind here and there to support this commitment. No committees are necessary to “recognize” that. Each one should know it for him/herself.

sketches for plaster figures of approx. 30 cm high
to be reproduced in such a number as to fill up the floor of a
30 m2 room, title: ‘variable according to audience’