Saturday, July 26, 2008

sonsbeek 2008 (2): procession and `grandeur'

to be fair, perhaps i should give some more background to my previous post. here you can read an interview with anna tilroe, the curator of sonsbeek 2008.

(her theme is `grandeur'...why do these things need a theme? call me negative, but i cannot help thinking that this is a combination of entertainmentlike advertisinglike promotion. let's all collectively do something arty about ... suggestions anyone? do i hear grandeur? fabulous, thanx a bundle.)

first her take on this procession business:

Tilroe: ‘The reason I called it a procession is that I wanted to get away from the idea of a spectacle - it's not a parade or a carnival. For me, a procession is something that demands a considerable effort. It really demands something of someone to take part in it. I've nothing against an event in itself, you could define an event as a break-through. The art is literally carried by various groups in society, which we've called bearer guilds. They display the art to the public: look, this is art, make of it what you like but we've engaged ourselves with it. The educational nature of this undertaking, the information they receive about the work of art and the encounter between the bearer guild and the artist are important here. The guilds have to know what they are carrying, what they are engaging with. So far there are several initiatives for bearer guilds, consisting for example of allotment gardeners, policemen, and cultural bureaucrats. '

sorry. it still doesn't make any sense to me at all. but anna tilroe also says some interesting things, i reproduce some questions and answers from the interview mentioned above:

Question: Alain Badiou argues that art is not without obligations, but a domain that generates new and important truths. There are, he says, four domains in which certain ‘truth procedures' occur: politics, love, science and art. For this reason, art has an educational and ethical task. You believe in this, too, but is it not a naive thought in today's neo-liberal economy, in which the world of art is largely determined by the art market?

Tilroe: ‘The international art world hangs together through mutual connections and these are not free of big commercial interests. The art world is completely sick, it is nothing but an art market. I'll just have to see how I can keep aloof from this. But what the market has to offer is not everything. I'm trying to resist this. I recognise its dominance, to be sure, but there's more. There are enough artists who succeed in keeping their distance from the art market.'


Question: To conclude, isn't it so that the wish to unite art and life remains an insatiable desire? In the Netherlands we're plagued by a real boom in social art projects, and didn't you also once say that artist themselves have almost nothing to contribute since what reigns is the curator's concept?

Tilroe: ‘I agree, but my exhibition is different. It's not art in the neighbourhood, it's a celebration of art. Works of art are special; I would only go so along to a certain extent with the idea that ‘art is life'. I can already anticipate the criticism: I'm making art into a fetish, objectifying it, making art something sacred. But I think you have to keep trying to rescue art from the flows of capital that it has now become part of, and from Richard Florida's notion of the Creative Industry. The work of art is being celebrated in Grandeur not because it is an expensive object, not because it is the plaything of the elite, not because it is something that has a sacred status. But because it represents the human imagination.'

so, at least i think i could have an interesting conversation with ms. tilroe (perhaps boring for her, me being so out of the loop of modern art worlds). there is hope yet in art for those who don't wish to join the general advertising/entertainment/capital flow.

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