Monday, October 11, 2010

Art: The Curled-MonkeyPoo-in-metalfoil, symbolizing The great Misunderstanding

Although this is mainly a "technical" blog, it's also an attempt to get in touch with the creative side. No idea how, God works in mysterious ways, and so does the artist. Hopefully some concepts here can make us friends one day. But let's talk about some recent developments in the (Dutch) art scene.

As we all know, the Western World is currently living in a crisis. I always react a little bit giggly when hearing that word. Only one car instead of two, maybe forced to find a new job, no vacation in 2010, less steak & chocolate pudding... Crisis, don't make me laugh. For people that live in a pool of mud or somewhere in a thirsty war-torn desert, this is still pretty much a paradise I guess. At least here in the Netherlands.

But seriously, to prevent worse in the future, we'll need to take measures. No doubt about that, and the same goes for Holland. Finally, after having endless annoying discussions whether to have a ministry with our blonde (anti Islam)Wilders or not, there is finally a formation again. My personal opinion about this? Don't talk but work already dammít. If mister Wilders is really that evil, the cabinet will explode (or implode) soon anyway. We're not living in 1936 anymore. I think the way how Wilders leads his debates about Islam and failing integration is not really constructive indeed. Whether you are right or not, it takes charm and tact to convince. Not to convince his sympathizers (Henk & Ingrid as we like to call them), but to convince the Muslim. Then again, I'm not a fan of his opposition either. They accuse him of creating two division, but their continuous bash on Wilders (and all his voters), the comparisons with Hitler & 1930’s, and marking every piece of criticism as xenophobe or fascism is just as stupid as well. I think I'll just immigrate to Jupiter.

Off topic, my work for this week was animating this ugly guy. And to prevent breaking your legs when taking the stairs down. Due gravity & speed, the player would get launched off the stairs instead of nicely, carefully, taking the steps. Stupid physics.

Anyway, we'll have to scrimp. Crisis and stuff. Holland also has to deal with a large group of 65+ people that has to be taken care of by a far smaller younger generation; me & friends. You can spend each euro only once, so decisions have to be made. One of the departments that has to hit the brakes with this new cabinet, is the art & culture sector. I have no idea how much exactly, but currently quite some tax money is used to stimulate art so they are definitely going to feel the whip. As always, the reactions I read on the web are either 100% pro or 100% anti.
"Without culture we will be bombarded back to the dark age again, SHAME!!!"
"Why the hell do we need a metal statue of a... pipe-horse-birdman-thing in our park anyway?!!"

Art. Or Artists. What can I say about them... I'm not talking about your nephew doing Flash animations, but dreadlocked hippies, having sex on a white canvas and (trying to) sell it for 7.500$ under the name "Les aventures d’Emanualle". Throw a bucket of blue crap on a wall and call it “green”. Make it controversial, make it weird, make it art. Make it in such a way that 9 out of 10 people doesn't (want to) understand it. So it keeps preserved for the "intellectual"… Is that a correct description of the artist? Please don’t get offended yet!

Wrong prejudices or not, fact is that most people don't understand art. And when looking at some artists, I'm not surprised that there is this image of lazy, weed-smoking anarchists, hiding their lack of talent/work-ethic by producing incomprehensible "art" once in a while. When not sleeping. When not too stoned. When not demonstrating against “The System”. Then again, I also know normal, hard working, down-to-earth artists. And although I'm not really familiar with the masterpieces or their creators, I can recognize and respect good art. Some of the greatest ideas just require some twisted, not so common mindsets. Often carried by, let's say unique creatures of God. If it takes a joint, dreadlocks, waking up at 11:30 and yellow striped pants, then so be it. The world would be boring if everyone looked and acted the same as me anyway.

The challenge with this particular animation was to keep the monster inside the hallway, not intersecting the walls too much. I'm reading a little bit about Inverse Kinematics right now, but that's future stuff.

So, economizing, good or not? The prejudices about lazy artists are certainly not always true. But that arises some questions. Does a talented person who works hard really need all that subsidy anyway? A good friend, studied at the art-academy, has his own business in logo design. Without getting a single tax penny. Same goes for his girlfriend. Another girlfriend is studying jewelry craftwork and plans her own little business. Again, without getting help, she pays everything herself (of course). And when looking at my own project, which is sort of an artistic -attempt- as well, is receiving jackshit either. I'm not saying my project actually is Art with a capital A, but honestly the same thing can be said about lot's of (subsidized) artwork as well.

I dare to say about 20% of the artwork is made by talented hands/minds, the remains are not that good or simply not art worthy. From desperate housewife art to haters of The System who completely lost it. The scope is wide but the artistic scene as a whole has to accept the fact that most people do not recognize Art in a piece of bended metal pipes (symbolizing the creators mind), a canvas with poop, or puppeteers doing a 48 hour jerk off session. Call us stupid or narrow-minded, but we are also your client. If Phillips or Sony comes with a brilliant new product, we still decides whether it sucks or not by buying or leaving it. We are afraid artists can't make a living anymore when the subsidy stops, but HEY, your local Mexican restaurant stops having an income as well if no one digs his shitty taco's. If 95% of the city residents does not like or understand the new "Love-with-a-twist-inBronze" monument statue, you can ask yourself why we should want such a project in the first place...

But before I'm making enemies with each and every artist, Hold on. Sony Blu-Ray players or taco’s are a different branch of product than art is. Of course most people won't understand art. Because most people don't know what it takes to create it, or how to look at it. From my own experience at school, mostly only 3 out of 25 children were creative. They spend their time drawing, the others went playing football and fighting each other on the schoolyard. No wonder the work of an artist is underestimated and often not appreciated. Struggling with the simple minds, getting flamed by (religious) people who got hurt once again, trying to explain the average Joe what you just made... That must be tiring.

Me personally, I don't think I should pay the household of lazy untalented artists. And when your community buys a new artwork again, then at least let the citizen decide a little bit as well before throwing another hundred thousand dollar for a piece of work that might not be seen/appreciated. But the problem is that this subsidy-reduction also blocks potential talent. People often forget what kind of influence art has in this world. The street view, architecture, music, logo’s, clothing, posters, cabaret, literature, opinion makers, critical questions or cartoons covering political dilemma’s... We also forget that becoming an artist requires a long bumpy way. Would the talent of jazz-band X ever be discovered if they didn't get a proper chance to deploy their selves? Would famous painter Z ever started seriously with this career if the chance of making a living with it is 0,01%? Artists require podia and exposure, a kick-start. Many probably won't come much further either, but some... As my unsubsidized friend said, the risk with stopping the money flow is that "being an artist" becomes something for the rich people who don't have to care about making an income in the first place. But above all, we shouldn’t want losing the creative part in our society.

If we have to economize, I'd say create some sort of probation. If your productivity equals ZERO, If you still don't sell paintings after X years, if your music still doesn’t come any further than the local pub, playing for 6 drunken truck drivers, a horse, and 14 year old groupie girls. Then maybe it's time for a reality check, and stop the investment. Sorry, but you just don't got it. Next. Life & business is hard, but that also counts for lady GaGa wannabes, Sony, the Mexican restaurant, and old mcDonald’s farm after having a bad year.

Other than that, I would like to advise artists not to rely on subsidy in the first place. If you can have it, good for you. If not, though luck, but why not using that creative right brainpart of yours to think about a solution instead of complaining? Like... having a normal job for 3 or 4 days in a week, and doing art as a side job? And then just look how it goes maybe? I would love to spend my 40 working hours on this project as well, but I'm afraid some people will get hungry then. It doesn't matter though. If you have REAL ambitions, your drive and heart is what counts in the end. Nothing can stop that, neither your wallet.


  1. Your post got me thinking of something that happened in Stockholm a couple of years ago. A senior student at the Swedish Art Academy faked a psychosis and got taken care of by the police and paramedics, and called it art. It's not the kind of "art" I'd like my tax money spent on. But sometimes it's hard to decided what's art and what's not.

  2. True, taste differs. We had something similar with an art student who placed a "suspicious bag" somewhere and called the police. As you can guess, the bomb squad had to remove that bag. Funny to face our hysterical fear for terrorism, but an expensive joke nevertheless.

    Personally I don't like abstract art, unless the idea is really unique and sets me thinking. But in general, just give me someone who truly masters the pencil/brush or sculpt (or Photoshop for that matter).