Saturday, July 25, 2009

street art 3: outside the commercial zone

on a more positive note (as compared to my usual rants against commercialism): i came across this wonderful sculpture in nijmegen:

street art in nijmegen, picture by blog author
unknown-to-me street artist, unknown-to-me title

constructed strangely against the remaining wall of a torn down house, the sculpture just is. i couldn't find any reference to indicate either maker or title. though it struck me as simple fun from a sculptural point of view, i found it to represent a very refreshing and vitalizing remembrance of art for the sake of art.

ohhh auldfashioned...but i mean art not for the sake of ART (in capitals, destined for museums, money, jetset, prestige, grandeur, really deep you know especially if you don't get it) but for the sake of art. where art stands for the expression of the human soul in visual terms. or something like that.

without regard for NAME, FAME, etc. and therefore logically anonymous (see previous posts on anonymous art - use the search function of this blog at the top of the page).

in my not so humble opinion, these anonymous street artists have a real message. i believe it concerns the freedom of the human spirit. and that there is always a way to create meaning outside of the commercial zone.

Monday, July 13, 2009

art & entertainment: kunstweek 2009

to continue from the previous post, i remember writing in my comment last year, that the borders between art and entertainment are fading rapidly.

and, the applause machine for this development is being cranked to the highest level. only natural, when one understands the mechanisms behind this. these mechanisms are many and varying in nature.

but a main ingredient is that smart marketing of a relatively shallow product gives a great yield. which is why so much effort is put in the marketing, especially when compared to the product being marketed.
which is why on our television sets we see channel after channel filled with the same rather meaningless entertainment programmes, and we have to search hard among our 100 channels to find serious and well-researched documentaries. [later comment: i must have been in a negative mood writing this - recently i saw various very good documentaries!]

in art, there used to be an added complication. namely the pretention that art is somehow `deep' and `meaningful' and `important commentary on society' etc. etc. etc. but, as we progress, this pretention can surely be dropped. more and more we see that art is being presented as `cultural business'. in the netherlands (as elsewhere i'm sure, since the netherlands never dare to take up a serious frontline position in the arts) the word `cultural entrepreneur' is being advocated instead of `visual artist'.

we are condoning the usurpation of art by business types, money makers and managers. we are more and more sponsoring entertainment which is presented as art, with funds which should [could at least, to be less morally pressuring] be used to create some depths in our modern culture. depths which the entertainment machine will never create, because the effort-yield ratio is too low in business terms.

the running example: kunstweek 2009 (dutch `art week') not only organizes a largely pre-arranged election, but in order to gain momentum -which means enough participants in the election, since success in the entertainment industry is always measured in audience numbers- they offer prizes which can be won if you vote.

and then they dare say (again i translate literally from their website):

Question: Which criteria determine whether an artist is good or not?
Answer: Much can be said on the creative and artistic value of art [sic!], except that it can be measured with concrete norms. There are no conceivable absolute norms for the appreciation of art, neither the market value nor the artistic value. But even if the quality of art cannot be quantified, the resonance and the appreciation can. And that is the goal of the election!

notice, that first they say that there are no conceivable absolute norms for the appreciation of art, and then one sentence later they say that the appreciation of art can be quantified...i'm not joking!

such quantification is even the very goal of the election, they say.

i'm sorry. words fail me. good luck, brave new entertainment world. i always thought art was about something else. perhaps we can invent a new word for artists like me, meaning something like `silly old romantic strugglers with paint, colour, form, life, depth, nature, human existence, beauty'?

better still: let's organize an election for such a word!!! the best word -to be judged by a panel of experts from the advertisement industry- will win the 10,000 easels which were used in the interactive art work `we are all artists' which won the heineken art festival 2009!!! (`we are all artists' is a work by by cultural entrepreneur ralf kwaaknijd in which on a large public square 10,000 people (selected through an internet election) paint a collective portrait of our queen, which is 100 x 100 pixels. each canvas is approximately 20 x 20 cm, the completed portrait measures 20 m x 20 m.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

kunstweek 2009 (revisited, art & quality 16)

last year i wrote this about a relatively new initiative in the netherlands called `kunstweek' (art week):

since about 5 yrs in the netherlands there is an initiative `kunstweek' (art week), which more or less out of the blue claims an election of `dutch artist of the year' (kunstenaar van het jaar).

of course, this has to be a joint effort from `public' (read internet) and `experts'. this year's expert panel contains some 100 names, with ... 0 visual artists among them. i am not joking, but it is all the more funny!

this is just to illustrate my point that artists have been manouvered to a secondary position when it comes to valuation of art. museum directors, journalists, curators, gallery owners, art historians...pull the strings.

can one expect alternative insights from such an election? or will it all be about artists already `discovered' getting some extra gpr...i leave to the reader to guess and smile.

after i wrote this, i immediately got a rather negative comment from the director of this art week, claiming that i had made many mistakes. however, as i pointed out all the information that i used came directly from the website of i got no reaction whatsoever. see my original post with comments

why bring this up? well, again the generalized pagerank (gpr) machine for promoting the art elite is running, and i'm getting emails and other messages regarding `kunstweek 2009' and another election of `dutch visual artist of the year'.

so, naturally, i looked to see if perhaps this year the panel of experts which selected the 90 eligible artists contains any visual artists... this year they say, and i quote literally from (in translation):

Question: can I become a member of the expert panel?
Answer: Yes, you can, if you have a professional relationship with art and you are not a visual artist. The expert panel consists of around 100 museum directors, art critics, art collectors, conservators, art teachers from art college, and other art experts.

well, then please explain to me why my post above was inaccurate?

dear artists and other art lovers, truth has its own particular ring to it. the interesting question then becomes: why is it so unwelcome, the observation that artists are systematically manouvered into a secondary position? why try and deny this?

this is undoubtedly connected to the observation that on the societal level, quality & art are determined by elite positions, which are strongly protected. a reason why i am really happy with the internet and the blog opportunities, because now at least it is possible to voice dissent, and be heard. before internet, also the publishing opportunities were controlled by the elite.

generalized open source. open publishing opportunities. i sincerely hope that this will bring about a change in the art world and outside of it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

woman, man 6 (spirituality, adam and eve continued)

frank waaldijk, eve and adam separated by the roots of knowledge

eve and adam separated by the roots of knowledge (own work, 2009, 21 x 30 cm, mixed media on paper)

just to keep the blog rolling a bit, one of today's drawings. the colours not totally accurate, perhaps i should try my old canon, see if it captures the colours better [have done so now, it is indeed a bit better].

this separation of woman and man sometimes really bugs me. it even seems totally normal that people divide humanity in two, drawing a big `thou shalt not cross' line between men and women. whereas gender is to me just an attribute, which when unemphasized leaves women and men the same: human.

gender discrimination seems so deeply rooted, and works both ways (in spite of what is popular belief these days, namely that only the women are being discriminated against). to me it seems that we all lose from these mechanisms.

strangely enough, i also drew a picture of a pregnant woman today...don't know if this logically fits what i wrote above.

frank waaldijk, expecting woman

expecting woman (own work, 2009, 21 x 30 cm, mixed media on paper)