The Logistics of Politics (2018): is an examination into the fundamental materiality that makes politics possible; the logistic structures that allow politics to be and spread. It investigates how certain materials define the ontological status of politics; but also the politics that define the ontological status of materials. Materials as newsprint paper and a substance of white clay and graphite - which is used to make pencils - suddenly do not form the backdrop of a certain meaning, but the prime vocal point. This deconstruction allows us to look behind the layers of ideology, and see what ideology needs to be in the world. To show the apparatus behind the lifeless material, some objects have been equipped with different kinds motors; the flag begins to move on itself; parcels are refrigerated and ventilated as they were functioning, active objects. A selection of these objects are:
Absolute Simulacrum is a curtain, the instance of hiding and revealing, made of Mylar - a highly reflective material that is used to keep people warm after disasters. Now the instance of hiding hides itself as well.
Fossilised Metaphors: Marbled barbed wire on newspaper.
5V World is a mobile of all the landmasses of the world. It's the politicians' dream object.
Wishing (you) Well is a reinterpretation of the act of applying meaning to the world. It diminishes the instance that holds together the different parts of the world into a Baudrilardian simulation. The glue that would normally bond this merge of meaning now is nothing more than the instance of reflecting that which gives meaning - the actor that applies it to the world.
1.5V Ideology is a motorised table flag. The object of ideology and national identity - an analogue object - has been automatised to reveal the functioning mechanisms of apparatuses behind it.
Speech Act. Graphite gloves for performance with newsprint paper.
Dictator(ship) (2018): dictatorship has been an object of thought and protest in the political landscape for millennia. Yet the phenomenon still persists in its myriad of forms. How can we dare to imagine an alternative world and, more importantly, to what extent does this power exert and impose itself on our current political landscape?
The exhibition ‘DICTATOR(SHIP) is a synthesis of these questions and is comprised of two elements. The first is the result of a performance which examines political aesthetics as a site of artistic subversion. The second is a panel discussion which aims to explore how art engages with the distribution of power and its effects in the world today.
The performance is developed by a collective of artists who, inspired by Haiti, asked themselves what artistic means are available for political subversion. The Haitian carnival, a festival which challenges and inverts the social structure, shows such a possibility. The artists have reinterpreted carnival into a performance in which ‘hybrid dictators’, renditions of dictatorial aesthetics, have become the new refugees, fleeing in despair from their former dictatorial position.
Thee panel discussion, led by the curator Erica Capecchi, will deliberate on the power of art to generate debate and awareness. The included panelists are Dictator(ship) artist Eef Veldkamp, Fiona Compton (independent St. Lucian photographer and artist), Julie Angeyo (founder of Anydawe Children and Family Welfare Association), Alessandra Cianetti (live art curator and founder of performingborders) and Xavier De Sousa (independent performance maker, curator and producer).
To the left a short snippet of the documentation of the two-hour long performance on Regents Canal in London.
Forming Identity is a necessity regarding ourselves in the world. Nevertheless, identity is not a fixed thing, there’s no centralised part in yourself about which you can say ‘this is my identity’ - such a thing would create and ontological differentiation of self into a 'zeuge' - a mere usage-item. Therefore, identity must be understood as a dynamic and flexible and thus also regressive thing - for it denies fixed definition. In principle, it’s a necessary fiction with which we define our own being in relation to the world and foremost other people. And even this fictional label is not as authentic as we often think. For example, the phenomena on which we base our labels, our own history, is just as ungraspable to ourselves as those of the people around us. I, for an instance, have always told that I was born 9 weeks too early; I use it as a way to define myself, my history. In a conversation which I had lately with my parents, the guardians of my history, they told me that I was born 8 and a half weeks too early. In this sense, I have always told a fictional story about my own history. Which clearly isn’t that accessible even to myself. Our identity is a necessary fiction with which we explain the ontological status of 'I' through all its contingent historical accidents. Therefore, I would say that the identity which I call ‘I’, only exists in the necessary fictional threshold between the other and myself.
Evident is that identity is quite a difficult thing to work with. Especially because the other plays a fundamental part in forming your own identity – and the other does this unauthorized, whether you like it or not. Polemically said, the other also plays a big part by merely thinking things about you with which you cant fundamentally agree nor disagree (the other's mind is always at a unbridgeable distance). Identity can thus as well be very alienating; it is something that also co-exists outside of ourselves. In the friction between I and the other, which creates my history, I would say identity is an motiveless battle, where nobody can be the winner nor loser, nor have any reason to battle at all. It are the battle-scars which make up your authentic identity: the conflict with what others think and say about you, and the things you think and say about yourself all of which are just as valuable. Even if what the other says is according to you plainly wrong, you define and thus identify by negation yourself accordingly. Identity thus always takes place in the relational sphere, in a long sentence in which there is no thing stating 'this is identity', but which haunts as a ghost the adjective valuation of a sentence; it so to say colours the story.
There are more words which have the same status as the word identity. These words only have meaning in relation to the syntax of a sentence, not on their own. We use them to evaluate what is said: adjectives. Adjectives denote the quantity and quality of the given object or subject; they define the value of a historical fact, the interpretation of engagement of 'I' with that fact. They, just as identity, define the status in which something is (or is not). Adjectives have no value on themselves, something is good (good book, good person), good is nothing on or in itself. In the Western metaphysical tradition, would philosopher Wittgenstein say, we have deleted the syntax to which words like 'identity' or 'good' refer. We have secularized these adjectives form their sentences, deleted their relational status and started regarding and defining them on their own. Just as we now have started investigating the meaning of identity and it's alleged prepositions on themselves: you are white, you are black. The risk of this tradition is that an almost Platonian perfect world of ideas is simulated which is far beyond our ephemeral, relational world in which words as Thé Identity, Thé Good exist and prepositions of those words are created such as Thé Black and Thé White. Our reality is now just a lousy, version of the ideal world: every human is now measured according to Thé Identity rather than identity is measured according to the human. When the distance is created between this Platonian world of adjectives and the sentences in which they essentially exist, entities are created without existence. There is no Black, there is no White; merely the relational threshold between the two which has been extrapolated by the creation of entities with no reality. The human and its identity do now suffer from the pressing weight of runaway adjectives with no reality: we now are forced to conform and identify with identities-entities which are not. There is no longer a historical relation (that which is and was) between 'I' and identity. I would therefore advocate that Thé Identity should shot from the eternal skies and should become be a game (or battle) in the real ephemeral word, the praxis in which histories are made. Only in this world we can again make our own identity. The world in which we do thing with each other; which can be qualified and counted according to those actual things. Thé Identity does not exist; there are no given prepositions.
So Identity is fluid and ever changing. In fact, we are different than everyone and even a little deviant to ourselves. There is no moment where identities coincide, when they are the same; measured according to adjective eternity. Only so identity can celebrate the pluriform character of life. Nevertheless, identity is often used in a very different way, for example in discrimination where words as Black and White are used. In, ‘Revised Edition’ (left), we tried to undo the symbol of national identity of its adjectives. The words which we have removed are ‘black’ and ‘white’. These are, yet again, word which are used to describe something that does not exist. The real ‘black’ just as the real ‘white’ do not exist. Nobody is black nor white. Explicitly the space in between of these contrast-words is where reality can be found. By cutting out the colours black and white out of the flags something else becomes important again, which accept chaotic and pluriform essence of our world. The empty space is filled with air, the ‘nothingness’, 'the all possible'. It literally opens space for forming the identity you want. It asks you not to conform nor identify with pre-given prepositions; how comforting they may be.
The Logistics of Politics
Totalitarian Rubric: is an academic study into totalitarian dictatorship; and more importantly, it's relation to democracy.
Intuitively we would say that democracy and dictatorship are completely different things. But after reading Plato's book 'the state' I started questioning this idea. Plato warned us for democracy, the form of government which we all so intensely love. He stated that democracy is the only form of government which can, by it's own principles, lawfully transform itself into a dictatorship. Beside Plato didn't like the idea that anyone could become a leader of a country; he feared 'idiots' would gain power in the highest offices.
When you translate these two points of critique into our time both aren't as unlikely as they seem. Hitler was chosen democratically and started a dictatorship, with quite some support of the people. For his second point counts that we could say that our American friends suffer from the fact that any 'idiot' got into power. Both realisations shocked me, so I indulged myself into reading Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. In this book Arendt looks into the contemporary form of dictatorship: totalitarianism. She did this by trying to define and list what makes it different than any other form of government.
These differences define what I call the 'Totalitarian Attitude' which is comprised of traits which I tried to distillate from Arendt's Totalitarianism. Afterwards I searched for ways they could fit into the democracy format, resulting in some very confronting conclusions: many of the dictatorial traits are not as dissimilar to key concepts in democracy.
To be able to grasp whether we live in a totalitarian dictatorship I made the Totalitaire Rubric, which is a evaluation system by which you can define whether en to what extend you are living in a totalitarian dictatorship. It is applicable to society, work and family.
You can buy a paper copy of the research into Arendt's Totalitarianism, which also explains all the questions in the Rubric for 7,50 euros at my publisher Wilde Raven. The Rubric and the research are freely accessible on the left hand side.
Con-paign II: are a series of 'liquid slides' of the logo's of Dutch political parties. Being back-lit and placed in the window of the Five Windows Galerie. Throughout the exhibition the liquid slides disintegrated by the force of the hear of the sun and the lights, losing their original image.
In this attempt to distil content from from content used in political campaigns. Usually both coexist in a well orchestrated image, where form is used to say something; a meaning with not just a political message, but also with an order to act in a certain way. Political (campaigning) images have an intentionality; they try to bring about something. Despite the fact that politics is all about dialogues, discussion and discourse, it's campaigns seem to have adopted a commercial attitude towards engaging with the people. They in commercial aesthetics to 'buy' certain politics and accordingly its policies. By dissecting these 'commercials'' form from content, the bare aesthetics are revealed; a heap of pigments;
In this artistic and somewhat a-typical research I made illuminating signs out of the logo's of the biggest political parties in the Netherlands. These signs are abstracts of the real logos and are made just as liquid slides - so through time the paint which now still resembles a strong political message, will become dirty mass of mixed paint in front of a bright light.
Connection Lost is the common denominator for multiple project. First 2015's 'Connection Lost', an empty silent news studio in a barren environment. It alienates the studio from it's news and so draws attention to the aesthetic preconditions in which the news broadcast exists. The second, an academic work called 'The Television News Studio as Starship' (2018), focusses on the decor from which reports on everyday life are broadcast which is anything but ordinary and yet it is often just assumed and presupposed. Being a room-in-a-room, the television news studio is completely shut off from outside ‘earthly’ elements. As the empty area between two sheets of glass that insulate both the space before and beyond. Within this insulate the studio has to simulate the outside elements in order to be tangible. Dozens of lights float just meters above the ceiling of the scannable – that which is seen on screen – flushing it with light and even with which it still remains too dark. The colour of that light, measured in temperature, made as close as possible to the colour of natural sunlight – ‘neutral’ white – and yet it is always reduced to the RGB spectrum. It is always just too warm or too cold. All those high-wattage lights, screens and electric appliances require climate-control air conditioning to prevent the studio from overheating – there are no real windows to open to vent the place. The objects one encounters in the news studio, made of the very same materials as any other object, have an otherworldliness to them for the reason the news studio is a space unlike any others. They surpass normal functionality; the news desk is not just a place to work behind. They are laminated with a malleability which transcends the constraints of materiality; and in that transcendence allows (or forces) the outside world to flow into it.
Now if we relate this peculiarly curious-looking place to what it works with – “true ‘raw’ news” – we might indeed wonder what the aesthetic significations of this fully simulated area are on the news objects which flow through it? The news studio, after all, is completely made and controlled. Its aesthetics are technologies, but what are those meant to do?
Underneath a short part of 'The Television News Studio as Starship' which can be freely downloaded on the left hand side.
"When zooming into the news studio, we pass through the atmosphere. The continuous global news-event. In the off/off and on/off the weather stays in the sky, but, thanks to (green)screens it is imported into the scannable of the on/on order. The news studio being completely isolated from the world, allows for two things: The construction of its own climate and for that climate to be exported.
Tobia calls the engagement of the news studio with the weather broadcast ‘techno-weather’, a virtual reality of “desires, freed of time and gravity,” in which the now cyborg-weatherperson “lives in a fully digital climate”. Digital because techno-weather does not happen in the physical studio itself, but in the server studio; the threshold between on/off and on/on where the recorded and the trans- tangible virtual elements meet.
The risk of unlocking the desires of the virtual, is that it “also permit us to assume deceptive personae”. In the world of techno-weather, sensory data that makes the news are transgressed by the cyborg-weatherperson. It, firstly, paraphrases phenomena that normally cannot be ‘perceived’ by human senses, such as pollen levels, fire risk, barometric pressure or mosquito populations. Secondly, the techno-weather simulates a could-be-weather. The greenscreen’s accelerative structures push the clouds in the atmosphere into a fast-forward mode: which might also explain why they are so often off. Rather than lip-syncing the weather – which would happen in retrospect – the news studio transgresses weather into the time framework of playback buttons, where the triangle, bars and square rather than clouds, winds and humidity define the weather and ‘play’, ‘forward’ and ‘pause’ it. For example, when techno-weather shows satellite-images of clouds. When it reaches the limit of time, the now, it start jumping as if there is a delay in connection, forcing the clouds forward. The distance between a past event and the news broadcast is now being transgressed into the distance to a possible future. The live – racing near the speed of light onto your screen – collapses the now with the future which now happen simultaneously.
The news studio, because it creates the change between the new and news, allows for the movement towards future news. It literally provides the weather by drawing points on a line from which what comes next might be fore-cast – thrown-forward. Techno-weather transgressing into the future signifies why the news broadcast and the space industry required the same services. The Metrological Office’s (Met) chief executive Rob Varley, prided it “being the best weather and climate service in the world.” But since 2018, he also regards the Met “the best in the galaxy” since they started ‘providing the weather’ to the European Space Agency.
Rather than most of the subjects the news studio incorporates, the weather remains a fully unscripted event. Every playback transgression of weather into the studio also means that it will never capture it. This might be why, firstly, some “shows even position the meteorologist in a dedicated laboratory”, which gives them the appearance of a scientific and thus objective setting. Secondly, why they use greenscreens and LED screens to show weather: they are essentially fully determinable. At the end of a video by the Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS), answering the much-asked viewers question ‘whether we can run out of good weather?’, the camera zooms out of the LED-screen illustrations of weather, and the studio is shown. Weatherman Peter Kuipers Munneke notes, that, whatever the weather may do in the Netherlands, “here I create my own weather”.