In the section ‘Sprekend’ of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, TV maker Nicolaas Verheul speaks of his new documentary, titled Super Stream Me. Together with Tim den Besten he will stream his life over the course of three weeks –he walks around with a tiny camera attached to a kind of selfiestick– which unsurprisingly immediately changes, because nobody wants to engage in an intimate conversations with him. However, that is where his psychologist comes in, who brings to discussion why Verheul is actually enjoying all the attention too.
‘We live in a time of narcissism. We are focused on who we are and what we can get, instead of on what we can give to others. Social media aren’t necessarily the driving force behind it, but they do have part in a more and more extensive navel-gazing. We speak of ‘online sharing’, but rather you send something into the world, only in the hope to receive something back. I constantly feel the need to be fed with external attention. It is this we hope to find online, but actually we hardly ever get there what we really want: love.’
Earlier, Nicolaas and Tim made a documentary on the Gay Pride and gay-rights in Ukraine, where he ended up in a veritable manhunt of gay haters. Never had he felt so scared. “I hope we can show that the world is not just ‘famous and shiny.'” he said.
In this dichotomy –narcissism fueled and made visible by the same media that engages and connects people in global conflicts through vast amounts of information– the contemporary artist too must find its way.
We are bombarded with imagery of adversity and catastrophe in various parts of the world and we can’t just remain looking at ourselves in the mirror. Immigrants climb over four-meter tall fences and risk their lives trying to reach Europe in small boats. In their attempt to create a world where only the Sharia laws apply, people are decapitated by IS of which the imagery is spread through the internet and shared with the whole world. The beheadings seem to be a form of radical iconoclasm, the ultimate gesture of someone being silenced, not only in a gruesome but especially in a visual manner.
These are happenings that we cannot avoid any longer. They have become impossible to circumvent.
An artist is not a journalist, because personal obsessions and fascinations lie at the core of his practice. ‘What are you good at? What do you do with great pleasure?’ and ‘Who are you, what really keeps you busy?’ However, in what ways do artist connect their own themes with what’s going on in the world? Engagement can be manifested in abstract ways, like in the performance of Fabio Mauri (see page ..), or it can provide comfort; as artist Daan van Golden puts it: ‘Art is consolation.’
This years’ Studium Generale attempts to discuss this dichotomy and its consequences for the arts.
From the same starting point this Studium Generale examines the impact of globalization on the art world: (by approaching) ‘modernity as an intercultural phenomenon’.
In 2007, Documenta 12 took place in Kassel. The responses to this Documenta were very divided, but above all they were negative; the exhibited artworks escaped ‘good taste’ in all possible ways.
De New York Times wrote (on june 22): Documenta 12 asks us to do a lot of thinking: about mortality, about the obsolescence of modernity, about how to live an ethical life through art. But it advances its questions quietly, and a bit too quietly: the resulting low visual impact is a major flaw. The show is every bit as socially engaged as its video-heavy 2002 predecessor, but packages its politics in a different way, in unmonumental objects and installations by undersung, not to say unknown, artists. (…) The work too small, private, underdone, done-before.
Researcher and writer Erik Viskil came back from his visit to Kassel with enthousiasm. He was as surprised by the overall reorganization of the exhibition as the critics in the newspapers. Though, at some point it occurred to him that we must learn to look differently, rather than judge by default. A judgement that moreover is deeply rooted in an art history framed by western standards.
In a time where everyone travels the world, it is of great importance to recognize the origins of our ways of seeing and thinking, to set in motion a true globalization of the arts, in which everyone can participate.
Erik Viskil will talk about how he perceived the Documenta 12 and this years’ Studium Generale explores the ways in which the globalized arts have developed ever since.
Documenta 12 was devised by artistic director Roger M. Buergel and curator Ruth Noack featuring work by 109 artists from 43 countries.
Three questions where central to the exhibition :
Is modernity our antiquity?
What is bare life?
What is to be done?
This second question underscores the sheer vulnerability and complete exposure of being. Bare life deals with that part of our existence from which no measure of security will ever protect us.
We create an exhibition in order to find something out.
We create a Studium Generale program to find something out.
Speakers fall 2015
1. Erik Viskil, Looking for Clues – From Westkunst to All the World’s Futures
Thursday, 24 September 2015
2. Geo Wyeth
Thursday, 1 October 2015
3. Nazmiye Oral
Thursday, 2015 8 October
4. – Kader Abdolah
Thursday, 2015 29 October
5. Mounira Al Solh
Thursday, 5 November 2015
6. Marjolijn Van Heemstra
Thursday, 12 November 2015
7. Nicolaas Veul
Thursday, 19 November 2015
8. Annabell Van den Berghe
Thursday, 26 November 2015
9. Petra Stienen
Thursday, 3 December 2015