By Lisette Smith:
using energy is fun
The house is part of a bigger system now. It is built within a structure of steel, lamps, music, shelfs, electricity and a bath tub. Everything that makes living comfortable, conscious and relaxed actually is there. I don't own the house; nobody owns it, it is a public house placed in my private house. It was offered to me to use it for a while. As it´s structure is long lasting, durable and detachable to one single element, my house will be rebuilt again somewhere else, in a different constellation probably with different functions. The system that my house will be part of is a chain of other situations, persons and things throughout the world. I guess this house has not so much to do with architecture as such. I didn't move into a ready made model; the stucture was adapted on me.
Sterrenhof: family housing estate situated on what has now become the most expensive land of the city. Residents are involved in a legal case with the city council's rental agency in order to maintain the estate. A status as monument, for which the estate, according to it's date of building 1889, technically is eligible for, would provide it from demolition. However the estate is due to be sold to property developers, as happened with all former houses in the area. In the course of time, Sterrenhof has become an island of private housing surrounded by offices and municipal buildings.
No. 9 bis: condemned uninhabitable after years of overdue maintenance. Nevertheless offered by the rental agency to live in - for free, and thus without liability. Unoccupied houses would run the risk to be squatted immediately. In Dutch this is called 'anti-kraak' - which means to live anti-squat.
Artist protest from the Hunderwasserhouse in Vienna against the governent participation of Jörg Haider's right-wing FPØ. Friedrich Hundertwasser died some days before. By life he was a fervent accuser of modern architecture ("the straight line is a killing weapon"). Instead he declared that every person had the right of having his/her own 'third skin' and proposed houses that could be formed according to person's tastes and choices of colours. Does he draw here a line between modern architecture and fascism? Ideological architecture that both claim socialibility. What is democratic architecture actually? How is it used as a mediatic icon to opinionize? In the same newspaper: a picture of a fashion show in Milano; Jörg-skirt worn by a black model.
Electronic music could be considered as the most democratic music. It has nothing to do with popstars, it doesn't need a performance, it has no weight and doesn't occupy space.
In Seeds of change, six plants that transformed mankind, Henry Hobhouse takes six commercial plants - sugar, tea, cotton, the potato, quinine and the coca plant - and shows how man's need, or greed, for these products has changed the face of history and shaped destinies. He argues that these commodities have had a more profound impact on the world than most wars, battles and revolutions.
Why did the Mediterranean people cease to dominate Europe? What led Europeans subsequently to spread all over the globe in post-Renaissance times? The starting point for the European expansion out of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic continental shelf had nothing to do with, say religion or the rise of capitalism - but had a great thing to do with pepper. But mostly, pepper is not credited with much influence upon world affairs, neither are the plants in this book. Other plants, too, have played their part in history, and are still doing so. Tobacco, for instance, an addiction which swept into fashion in some countries, was the essential import which corrected the chronic balance of payments deficit of the American colonies in 1774. Did it therefore finance the revolution?
Considering such a capability of tobacco, I have to think about the relation between cigarette companies and art when I smoke.
Even if we don't take into consideration the different sources by which art is financed, it is hard to think of a situation that is not dependent on something. Curators are not independent, and neither are artists. What we do is tied to the context in which we work. To call oneself a dependent curator means a consciousness of working in a field where definitions of borders - geographically, ideologically, socially and culturally - have become increasingly indistinct, and to take a presence and position in it.
"To what extent do you think that artists, who work in a social context, use the art system as a platform for discussion because their projects would not be visible otherwise?"
Firstly I think the formulation of the question is a bit awkward, because it presupposes that artists 'only' use the art system to make their projects visible; as if their projects have nothing to do with art in the first place. Of course it is rather the opposite. Artists who are working in a 'real life' context (social, political, economical and so on) are investigating the meaning of art within life, and the meaning of life through art, and to me this makes it clear that they are working from the realm of art. It doesn't mean however that it is clear what the results are of these investigations - often the process is open-ended and a tangible or visible result not evident. Basically anything could be considered as a visible residu, but not one of them does represent these projects as a whole. To frame them as art however is important, not because it is not thinkable that some projects might not be art at all, but exactly because they challenge it's definitions. Art can provide a platform to discuss anything; things that otherwise would not, or differently, be present. Invisibility probably is more a problem for institutions and art history - the 'lack' of visibility complicates mechanisms of representation, authorship, and ultimately the value of a work of art.
Production budgets for art actually are very limited, I would say it's peanuts, compared with other industries such as music, film or fashion. Investment is not something we connect with art. There is certainly a lot of cash in art as well, but mostly the money is paid after the job is done.
Richard Meltzer occupied a small utility room in the basement of an university. He turned it into Meltzer's clothing store, where quantities of old clothes were hung or shelved in fixed proportions according to colour, size, subject, and use. Anyone could take an article as long as it was replaced with something in a similar category, for instance, a violet tie for a sash of the same hue, or a pink sock and a blue one. That way the store retained its compositional integrity. There were dressing areas for men and women (1962).
(in: A. Kaprow, The blurring between art and life)
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