the status of artists

Writing and/in/about Art

International Conference on Artistic Research, The Hague 28-29 April 2016, University of the Arts The Hague & Leiden University, Venues: Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Art, by SAR: Society for Artistic Research

It is more lexical than I thought.

The discussion is about writing and art, with the ‘in’ and ‘about’ art prevailing. Art described as a disruption to the organisation of the human life was a good start. Only the disruptions presented were surprisingly orderly. The ‘f***-up’ suggested (Alva Noe), and warmly embraced, as defining better the nature of disruption, was scarcely represented in the workshops; for example, as a rumour (Dean Hughes), and in the performative talks that followed, as sound-scapes (Salome Voegelin).

OK, more notes to decipher.

(And then day-2 to go through)


'Art and Philosophy' by Alvo Noe
‘Art and Philosophy: Taking Aim at the Invention of Writing’ by Alva Noe
'Writing about the Sound of Unicorns' by Salome Voegelin
‘Writing about the Sound of Unicorns’ by Salome Voegelin
'A Column of Air' by Redell Olsen
‘A Column of Air: Flickers/Writing/Painting’ by Redell Olsen
'Exposion Writing: Radical Epistemology' by Michael Schwab
‘Exposion Writing: Radical Epistemology’ by Michael Schwab


Notebook from the symposium ‘Transcoding Flusser: Synthetic Thinking’

[only the notebook pages with both text and image]

No better way to pick it up where I left it: at the academy of visual arts in The Hague (KABK). It’s been some time since I posted anything on this blog; life is full, or the mind is empty. Whatever it is, or was, writing and drawing come to the surface, pinching me to go further. Am I not lucky?

What was discussed at the symposium could fill a number of posts. But I first want to see the exhibition at West (the gallery was also the organiser of the symposium in The Hague). Already on their website there is a lot of interesting material from the Flusser archive (Berlin) and from the symposium.

Only one note for now: Yes, it would help a lot the non-experts in philosophical terms, if the ‘model for energetic dialogue’ would include a walking-in-room kind of aspect. The openness about this of the initiators, who also convened & moderated the discussions, Dr. phil. Baruch Gottlieb & Steffi Winkler, is highly appreciated. Thanks!

Transcoding Flusser: Synthetic Thinking
International symposium: Friday 15 April 10.00-18.00h + Saturday 16 April 11.00-16.00h | Auditorium, Royal Academy of Art The Hague

01_flusser_symp_notes_web 06_flusser_symp_notes_web 02_flusser_symp_notes_web 03_flusser_symp_notes_web 04_flusser_symp_notes_web 05_flusser_symp_notes_web

Art and Science at KABK (Royal Academy of Visual Arts)

Art & Science is the most popular programme of the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague (KABK). Students get busy with sounds and images generated by analogue or electronic devices.

For those who are interested but also for those who don’t have a feel for such things, the fact is that there is a new generation out there acquainted with this concept; and backed up by the usual mentors too.

During the open day, last Saturday, I made this short video; the impression is characteristic of the field “art & science” as it is also seen in big art events.

P.S. The use of old machines and cutlery in order to make sounds referring to the noise of the humans has a sense of an ending. Maybe they have found what we all have been searching for as meaning, concluded in absurdity.

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The art of painting as role model

We call a role model a person that inspires the younger, mostly, with his or her positioning in life. Behaviour and success are considered the key points, but the historical moment and the trends that go with it allow this positioning to come out as success and as likeable behaviour, or not. Outside everyday life, role models are easy to identify in films, as well as in books; in a description so to say. But what if we would remove the descriptive part and offer the values of a role model in pure art.

A painter would suggest this:

Painting has an important role to play in our society despite of what people and the art world itself proclaim with frequent judgements. Painting – the act of and the responsiveness to – is a role-model to the following:

  1. Self-sufficiency, to the extent possible
  2. Non-consumerism
  3. A sense of devotion outside religions
  4. A measurable ability for concentration
  5. A chance for contemplation with result to non-navigated thoughts
  6. A movement of the brain in connection to the intelligent movements of the hands
  7. A sense that time and space expand, shrink and take forms in respond to our disposition
  8. A counter balance to art as entertainment
  9. A living connecting point to tradition and history
  10. A dimmer of human created noise

Thoughts by a a devoted painter and resilient advocate of the special quality that painting offers to the arts and to the community.

@wijn&kunst, setting up the exhibition “the taste of light”

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Volkspaleis 2014 – sound and entropy

Volkspaleis 2014
Zuiderstrandtheater Scheveningen
18 October to 16 November 2014

The Zuiderstrandtheater is here to stay; never mind the confusion about its temporary status; it is standing there, so why not use it too. Gallery West organises this year’s Volkspaleis in this new space. Previous editions of this event of a 30 days span, took place in the Turbinehal of the E.On Electriciteitsfabriek and the Grote Kerk in the centre of The Hague. It is organised by Gallery West so mainly video and sound is the expected. A programme full of (experimental) music/ performances; it must be the place to be for sonology students as well as the art&science department of the art academy.

The music programme falls under the title “Public Address/ Hommage à Loudspeaker”; which next to the obvious, performances and concerts, it interprets into lectures/ presentations of the history, aesthetics and functionality of the loudspeaker, the mobility and portability of speakers, the amplified sound, the sounding systems in theatres and finally the absence of them with relation to the acoustic sound. “From maximum volume and electricity, from overwhelming fill and reach to no electricity at all, almost complete silence and acoustic ways of amplifying sound”, I read in the printed programme. In this programme there is also a workshop for constructing DIY speakers by hacking virtuoso Nic Collins, only this weekend; this means that you register from before and go there with a bag of materials (like a radio and batteries and cables) and then the fun begins. I expect the men of the house to come back all excited… but that does not mean that only men participate; not at all.

Of the immobile exhibits, the black&white films in Hall 1 are the first to ask for our attention and time of course; there is a couch at good distance from each of the screens, except from the screen showing the film “Seven songs for Malcolm X” by John Akomfrah (the black audio film collective)-UK1993. For this one you have to stand on a specific point under the speakers, which gives a tough time to whoever wants to see the whole film. In the belief that all is set with a purpose I should think that this is the minimum effort asked from the viewer…but again this is not clear. Anyway, I found this as the most interesting film and very much linked to the present. The other films felt old, though not all of them really are. The outtakes (yes, the rejected material) of Maya Deren’s  “A study in choreography for camera” also feel contemporary in their fragmented narration, sometimes mere repetition of a take which gives an hysterical tone to the result; however, it also lets us look more carefully at the interiors of our grandparents time.

Who says that only in our times you can barely make anything rejected disappear?


"A study in choreography for camera-outtakes" Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Strandtheater

“A study in choreography for camera-outtakes” Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Zuiderstrandtheater

workshop room during the break
DIY workshop room during the break
leaving the Strandtheater towards the town center
leaving the Zuiderstrandtheater towards the town centre

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Mark Rothko at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

This is not a review of the Rothko exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum; a super event surely, advertised all over The Hague on a poster with the most attractive purple colour ever. This is a stream of thoughts by a painter, me, walking by the works of one of the best artists of the last century at least. The exhibition is so much museum minded, educational, a set up for the wide public, with the beginning, the middle and the end clearly marked and explained. It is not bad to use the language to guide; can’t imagine what the reaction would be if there were only the paintings standing there, calling to the chaos. I am not sure whether Rothko would have approved the exhibition, but then he is dead so long that his opinion is a relic for historians and archivists. His works on the other hand stand like space rocks on the walls, detached from the content of the room. We, the spectators, belong to the squared floor and the air above it while the paintings pulsate in present-infinity. They represent the rarely heard moment of tuning to the universe’s sound. Some of us feel that this tuning is what painting is about, just like music. Yet, it is rather improbable for anyone to weep in front of them in the company of at least thirty others in the room and the audio guides in hands and ears.

It is kind of odd this high-end presentation in between the produces of the creative industry (which of course has goggled up the myth and the money about Rothko too, no doubt). However, in the times of no-object art, this is a formidable reminder that painting is not some kind of trick, is not entertainment nor a description of anything, and certainly does not need words to go with it nor heavy meanings and references. By the way, painting does not need to be interactive either; standing contemplative in front of it should be enough.

Still, Rothko’s earlier works are amusing throwing into insignificance the charms of shape or texture: mucky, indelicate, incomprehensible just as observations of something not visible. Colour passes by quickly and then as the rooms darken to host the reds and the blacks, I align once more with his view, that red and black are not like the other colours. They are as far as it can be from being decorative or descriptive and therefore closer to the step beyond. Besides, once you’ve shifted towards them it needs a good dosage of insanity to help you get by; the emotional crack is unbearable. When you have a good hatch in reality to get back and forth, it can very well not be the end. But then again, talking about the self inflicted end; imagine, you have an ailing body, you’re working in loneliness for a spiritual experience in painting and then this is your destiny: you have rallied with a soup can and the soup can won (and in an extended time projection too).

It can also though be the accomplished life that allows the end.

“Silence is so accurate.” M.R.

Read also my article on Dutch Review Mark Rothko in The Hague

Mark Rothko at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Mark Rothko at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag the rooms darken...
…as the rooms darken…

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Textile in art – The Hague

 Analog 2014 Textiel Festival
6-26 September in The Hague

There is one day left to visit this textile festival, easily accessible in the centre of The Hague. So, Friday morning and luckily also in the evening during the wider cultural event called Hoogtij; a round  to exhibitions outside the normal opening hours. I would say, do take the offer; Analog is a show made by the art and design workers themselves; so, happily not a curator’s dream.

At the Grafische Werkplaats most probably you will be amongst people working on their silk-screens and etches; at Gemak you will be challenged with more sophisticated options; take it or leave it, as always. I found most interesting the heat sensitive fabrics at Interieurwinkel Edwin Pelser and the down to earth with a flair of light sensitivity works presented at HOOPwarenhuis. The images below come from this presentation. Enjoy!

"YUMI" by Christa van der Meer
“YUMI” by Christa van der Meer
"Denim Days-Sleepless Nights" by Studio Codex
“Denim Days-Sleepless Nights” by Studio Codex Joshua Enker
fashion by Joshua Enker
"SCAPES trials" by Ilse Versluijs
“SCAPES trials” by Ilse Versluijs
... by Hector & Wolf
fabrics by Hector & Wolf
"Downtown dress up"  by Daniela Larue
“Downtown dress up” by Daniela Larue

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Men in beards

How much a dedicated follower of fashion one must be to grow a beard or a moustache because the magazines suggest it (now commercial flyers too), I don’t know; but it happens … let’s see, a beard or a moustache are a statement of: prestige and authority (going back to history a bit), nonchalance and opposition to society’s rules, hermitisme and wisdom, a certain sense of adventure, etc. But, what if the come-back of beards combined with fancy clothes (a somehow awkward look) is an artistic attempt to even out, in a stylish and inclusive way, the look of young people of different cultural backgrounds who grow up in the same country; meaning a western country. I cross fingers for that and go back a few years, again triggered by the coming back to news-lights of a bearded man, the photographer Miroslav Tichý. Here follows a text I had written (but never published till now) about the exhibition at the Fotomuseum of The Hague with works of Gerard Petrus Fieret (NL), Anton Heyboer (NL) and Miroslav Tichý (CZ); the exhibition was titled ‘The tireless epic, Fieret-Tichý-Heyboer’.

Some things stay current (or, the basics will always haunt us) …

The first thing that attracted my attention, already before entering the hall, was the portraits of three bearded men, fitting the stereotype of the artists of the 19th century rather than of photographers of the 20th. The connection was not made in vain; as I went through their works the linking thread was revealed naturally. The exhibition showed the works of three photographers born in the 1920’s, two in Holland and one in Czechia. All three were trained painters, visual artists we would say now. With photography though they had no technical guidance; they found their way by themselves and followed it in their own terms.

Men in beards
Men in beards


The Hague Museum of Photography which hosted the exhibition ‘The tireless epic’ with the works of Gerard Petrus Fieret (NL), Anton Heyboer (NL) and Miroslav Tichý (CZ) notes that these artists arelinked not only by their chosen themes, but also by an obstinately idiosyncratic way of life’. Their chosen themes were in fact their eccentric world, external as well as internal. We see photographs of cars, women and children in the streets or inside, simply living their lives. Wherever there is posing, it is so home-made that we feel that we intrude into the private life of our naughty auntie. The particular way of depicting this life can be called eccentric as an irony to the main path of aspirations. Photographs in b/w often blurred or maltreated in the process, fill up the walls of the museum and raise questions about quality marks of any artwork. Especially for us, living surrounded by embellished images, corrected imperfections, studied to detail poses, lights and special effects, it comes almost as a shock, that a museum decides to show the real people photographed by their equals. Models and artists in this case are working on the same level; an approach to art practice that is met often in the 20th century (think of Pier Paolo Pasolini and his actors) and it continues in the 21st (think of the Michael Clark company dance project in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall during the summer of 2010).

raw material roughly stored
raw material roughly stored: the negatives of Fieret

The power of such works is timeless. Throw the garlands out of the window and you have the raw thing to battle with. But then what distinguishes these three from the amateur photographers of our families? As first, it is the perseverance; it is the volume of the work. We don’t talk about ten women photographed randomly in the street. We are talking about hundreds. These three men got obsessed with their themes and photographed them consistently for a period of time until they exhausted them. Then there is the look. An artist’s look shapes the images even when technique is neglected. The look of the artist becomes recognisable in any of his/her works as it entails the personality and the artistic vision. And last but not least is the experiment. The accompanying notes in the museum talk about the lack of interest for creating a perfect art work but even more for preserving their own work. The experimentation goes further to the home-made cameras in the case of Tichý and to the apotheosis of the ‘snap-shot’ in the case of Fieret. Heyboer should be considered as a special case, since he had even created his own model of domestic life, living in a communal farm together with his four women. Here, the experimentation is diffused between subject and medium. Heyboer, consciously retreated from society, pursues his artistic vision in that farm, photographing the daily life and his companions.

The fact that they were born so early in the 20th century puts them in discussion with modernism whether they like it or not. As still a medium under exploration in that time, photography passed to that generation as an open ground. Besides, because of its technical side and as of its social aspect, it was meant to be mainly explored by men. These three skilled painters escaped the obligation of breaking ties and boundaries in painting but got the new manly gadget and stripped it from its glorious masculinity. They saw their women through their medium standing at a retreated position, almost as from the psychoanalysis sofa. They disdained social and artistic achievements but built their creative vision in a secluded domesticity. They almost missed post acknowledgement out of honest negligence.

P.S.1 back- to-basics reminder (always useful)

P.S.2 One of the articles I recently came across shows many of Tichýs photographs and the photographer himself with his self-made cameras (text in Greek): recent article about Tichý

P.S.3 See the beauty of real women through the eyes of an artist :

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Art in shiny places

‘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)

"Rich bitch" painting by Leah Splits
“Rich bitch” painting by Leah Blits
photographs by Ann De Saedeleer
photographs by Ann De Saedeleer
view of the little art gallery
view of the gallery
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