‘Belgium: the class of 2013’ artists: Leah Blits, Ann de Saedeleer, Charlotte van Renterghem, Evelynn Van Damme, Sara van Woerden location: WTC Art Gallery-The Hague
When we think of art in strange places we usually mean desolated spaces or places that function in non accordance to the arts prerequisites. This little gallery in a brand new centre of commerce is one of those strange places, to my eyes. But then, isn’t it what you make of what you’re given? The contrast of the scrappy paints and surfaces to the shiny surroundings and the outspoken, as well as noted in words, sense of grief and absence made me smile. Add to that a sense of uncertainty about the act of art-making itself, which I very much understand and even appreciate, and you have a small in volume exhibition with proof of talent at its start.
P.S. There is no need to praise the star and use the others as filling; not everything is a tv show (in case you read the press release)
Sixty artists in the old centre of The Hague warmly invite you to visit their ateliers on the weekend of 1 and 2 October 2011, from 11:00 to 17:00.
You can draw your own route using the free catalogue that you can pick up from the graphic arts atelier on Prinsengrach 16. You can also find the catalogue in many places in The Hague: libraries, cafes, shops etc.
Last Saturday, 18 September, we had an intense session of mingling with colors and children, assisting them with painting with brushes and real paint (!), sometimes for their first time. We were lucky with the weather that allowed us to work outside on the pavement, in front of the windows of the geborgen kamers. It was Koert’s idea (and preparation) to fill up the place with cut out wooden elephants (some 15 of them), which attracted the attention of the neighborhood’s children. The result is exhibited in the space of the geborgen kamers at Ambachtsgaarde 6. For a while, the elephants can be viewed from the window. Big thanks to the ‘wijkberaad’ of Vrederust which invited us to do the workshop, during the year’s ‘feestje’.
Walked in the Turbine hall of the Tate modern under sounds of a personally lived music time. Had to go up and down the stairs to be able to find a place to stand from where I could see the performance. Deep down in the hall, with simple slow movements, the choreography unravelled a sense of communication and continuation as well as a projection of the lines of the environment, including building and people. The voice of David Bowie and the imposing sounds of his music deepened the space even more and by doing so dragged along the non performing audience as well. Oh yes, there was performing audience!
The project of the Michael Clark company spread in the summer months – displayed as a live artwork – presented open rehearsals there in the turbine hall and involved more than 70 persons of the audience who were taught during this period and performed together with the dancers of the group at the final shows.
I find it superb the fact that more and more art projects look at art with an inclusive mind and the thought of involving rather than excelling alone. The idea of direct contact with the non-skilled in a specific field and the elevation of all through the extra effort of the skilled and the non-skilled together, is certainly not new; however, it is becoming more eminent now as a back wave to the ones who entrenched the artists’ professional activities with arrogance and fear and called that ‘a career’. That is the job that mostly art administrators learned to do (see Arno van Roosmalen, director of stroom den haag), encouraged by the curators era which is already fading away. The Internet world has opened a path of openness and accessibility; the real creators of our times and those who support them know to which door they turn their back and on which path they can walk in good company.
Only recently I realised the connection between the beatniks and the great Louis Ferdinand Céline. Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs admired him to bits and went to meet him in his self exile in France; don’t know if they managed, rather doubt it. I read the beatniks in my teenage years; Céline in my forties. Looking back, I say once more: sometime, the self admiring professionals – in the arts – should shut up and dare to face their naked self. After all, that is the truth of art; the rest is decoration.
‘The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows.
And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose : death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.’
extract from the ‘Journey to the end of the night’ by L.F.Céline
It is not surprising that a Greek artist together with a Dutch artist grown up outside the Netherlands were treated as intruders when they came back to Holland five years ago. Everyone we knew was telling us that things had changed for the worse in the Dutch common life: unemployement had risen, tolerance had shrank. One would think that the art world is not affected by such things. Indeed, those who know how to work independently do their work under any circumstances. Those who wait for subsidies, have to wait. We landed in Transvaal and spent three years living and working in houses and streets that have already become images for the National Archive. Our publication project of 2007 can already be seen as documentation of a past chapter of The Hague.
It was printed in Dutch and published on the Internet in Dutch and in English.
‘I became the race horse of the talking media. 581 words per minute was a record that could not be ignored. At last could I talk; listening had suddenly become not applicable, or at least that became my starting point, and very soon my contribution to the rising media era. Again on travelling, on thanks and bravo’s with a fan club and a limousine added, I should be content. However, the more I kept talking during the day, the worse became my sleep. I had no nightmares; only a constantly repeating dream wherein I was walking through the hidden rooms of my life. They were rooms where I once had lived, with furniture and curtains that I couldn’t recognise, empty from people and sounds, every night a new room. Day after day I became obsessed by the hidden rooms trying to identify them. My famous blabla – without losing tempo – became blurred through intervening jumping words of other languages. I went to the psychiatrist seeking a meaning for all this. She generated no meaning but came to me with an advice: “stop talking”.
To my ears that sounded then as “stop smoking”, “stop drinking”, go to the monastery. Instead of that I took off to become an artist.’
Art is a constant experimentation, thus not compatible with ideas neither of surrender or compromise nor of comfortable self admiration. Continuing to do what you know best is like repeating the same successful experiment over and over and presenting the outcome as something essential. This recipe excludes failure and leads to frigid artistic achievements. Works where the human failure cannot be traced are as close to any truth as Hollywood films. Consequently, they are perfect for entertainment and decoration purposes.
I always thought that art was more linked to philosophy, including all contradictory hypotheses, decomposing and rebuilding, explaining a small pitch of the chaos or revealing it to us by a punch to the stomach. I fear that, just as in the world’s universities, here as well, humanities have lost ground to physical sciences. The new trend is to link the arts with experimentation where the arts are not the main factor. Link the arts to biology, to agriculture, to environmental studies, etc. and you have already neutralized them. Even more, a scientific experiment that is repeated as an artistic project is a parody underrating both scientists and artists for the joy of those who make careers on the back of disorientated fools.
Experimentation should appear from the artists’ working place; then only, biology, agriculture, environment, or anything else in the human or super-human sphere can be fuel for artistic creation.