Thuistezien 70 — 01.06.2019
(English translation by Baruch Gottlieb)
‘Do I see these images differently or otherwise during the corona time?” Well, what should I say? And what first comes to mind? Well, when it first started it was like a long extended Sunday. Which brings back memories like the breadsticks grandma’s neighbour always used o serve with her soup. Though she has been dead for years, it suddenly feels like just a moment ago. It spreads like butter on fresh bread... It starts to fade, yeah, as time goes by you just have to move on. It feels a bit like the solution is that you are kicking open doors made of clay, trying to guess how wet it still is... and yes... what I generally think of this corona time is that I like it. All those initiatives with clapping for care, although the feeling of solidarity can be exploited for commercial purposes, I can look past all that. I always say I’m weird that way.’
The above is the transcription of an imaginary interviewee from the podcast I'm currently working on. For this podcast I asked passers-by at De Beeldengalerij in The Hague, among other things, whether they now see the sculptures of the pedestal project any differently in the public space. I reminded them it is said that art offers consolation. Or that in any case, the limited use of public space makes you look more carefully. People have more time on their hands nowadays, which makes room for stillness and contemplation.
The physical sculptures were intended to provoke the perception of social sculpture, reactions to the status quo of art experience and thinking about a post-covid era. What lessons could we possibly draw from this experience which we bring with us into a new society? The reactions were often those of solidarity. And indeed: music was the most frequent answer to the question of whether art offered solace.
Bread and Circus
Art offers consolation. It is precisely in such times that art can find its ground and retrieve its function in consolation. At least that was often how art and the cultural sector used to justify itself, when funding and incomes were already declining before the crisis, with even more cuts expected. During this period, likely announced as an 'extraordinary time', one of the greatest reconstruction outside wartime. individual institutions in the sector, sometimes even somewhat collectively, will have to save their skins. Having to legitimize your existence and usefulness over and over again is a well-fed frustration in the art sector. Art is just as important as water and bread, it speaks to the what makes us human
, but the ministry rather sees it mainly as bread and circus.
This was way before 'the crisis'. The collective experience of art had become a lonely one, like a churchgoer who only prays in times of (vain) hope. Only when there is something to celebrate can they find their way to church. Every frame of mind becomes relative. We take art for granted, as a constant, an immaterial value sheltered in the consciousness. Art making is here understood in the broadest sense of the word as craft and culture. The most viable, or at least the most consumable culture can be traced back to the date of its origin. The general public regards this art as monumental visual culture and often uses it as a means of deriving its own identity to a greater or lesser degree.
I believe that one of the arguments in the sector was also that a funeral is not a funeral without the deceased's favourite music. Apparently it was felt necessary to explain that the creation of music is also art.
Generally speaking, the corona period led to a worldwide search for creative solutions. Imagine the plausible scenario where a supermarket manager handing his shelf-stockers rolls of tape, encouragingly appeals to their hidden talents for cartography. This could just as well be the scenario of a guest lecturer at an art academy. Never before has every human being been so demonstrably an artistic being.
In any case, it is inevitable to give the Broadened Concept of Art more influence over art education curricula. Perhaps the time has finally come when the visions of Constant’s New Babylon
, of John Cage’s Art=Life=Work
and of Jospeh Beuys’ every human being an artist
have become realities.
One and a half space
: this is the title of the Dutch translation of La Disparition
, a six hundred page novel by Georges Perec, published in 1969, in which the letter ‘e’ is completely missing. The writer’s self-imposed restriction forced him to find creative solutions in order to keep the story flowing. It might have been less of a challenge to write a book in which the characters move in a one-and-a-half-metre society.
Literally literally speaking, a solution would be to put a space and a half between each letter. But this action would be performed in a physical world where the same laws and rules apply, the measurable world with a centimetre grid on each page. The power of La Disparition
is precisely that the physical absence of the object - the letter 'e' - leaves the measurable world of the pages and naturally regains its right to exist as subject and purpose, namely the creation of a story, which is the world of experience.
I have not read La Dispiration. However, I do know that the disappearance of the letter ‘e’ is in fact replaced with the character Anton Voyls. I can also confirm there is German translation: Anton Voyls Fortgang
. For me, the translator here better understands the art of dealing with restrictions: live, and move on.
Sean Cornelisse (1988) is a writer/poet and visual artist. He studied criminology, art history and is an alumnus of the Sandberg Institute since the summer of 2019, where he took the temporary master’s degree ‘Reinventing Daily Life’.
Art and crisis — Thinking about art in times of corona
The arts are taking a break. Theatres, museums, concert halls and galleries are closed. To a large extent, the art that is so desperately needed right now is inaccessible. Imagine being quarantined at home without films, without books, without music.
Though we may not access the art, we can still think about it. The enforced rupture of this isolation can also be an opportune moment to reflect on and from, the arts.
Every Sunday for the coming weeks we will feature new writing on the arts under quarantine. Today we have the first offering from the initiators of this series: Akiem Helmling and Christiaan Weijts.