Do not go gentle.. Charles Esche

The oddly ambiguous reaction to the cuts in public funding for culture currently proposed… (see below) has for me more to do with the structure of funding and who is funded. Cutting funding might be the ultimate Institutional Critique. The arts funding should go directly to artists instead of propping up the institutions. Artists are very good in finding ways of making their work public. Self-organisation is the key. Artist-led spaces and projects are the hot bed and cutting edge. Why not support that and let the major institutions find their own support and funding, because they have the connections and patrons in “Young, Silver, Gold or Platinum” as Tate calls them. Hey that sounds just like a credit card…

Another reason to cut the funding of the art institutions (but not of artists…) is that the promise on which the institution is based has eroded to dust. Let me explain. The institution of money (in this case the Euro) is in crisis because the promise printed on the piece of paper has become untenable because of the massive debt. (after writing this I realise that there is no printed promise on the Euro money only a signature, but there is one on the Pound “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …”). The institutional promise of the art world, written above every entrance door, is that they show art: “I promise to show the visitor on demand art…” That certainty is gone, and we artists have worked very hard to get rid of it. What artists call art, what the art institutions call art, and what the public call art, is not the same thing. The next step is to follow this through and be self-reliant, with or without funding.

This advertisement, placed by a collective of Dutch artists, ran in The New York Times on June 23 2011, costing a reported $26,000.

Article: Do not go gentle.. by Charles Esche
Copy from
Published 31.08.2011 Afterall.

I have an oddly ambiguous reaction to the cuts in public funding for culture currently proposed in the Netherlands. [ highlighted by me] On the one hand, I deplore the short-sighted stupidity of a neoliberal government that wants to keep its racist partner happy by cutting what it refers to as a ‘left-wing hobby’. One the other hand, I can’t help but see the cuts as part of the necessary retreat of Europe and eventually the United States from their dominant world position. The cuts, which I think will be mirrored in many other Western European countries, are targeted at contemporary cultural production, discourse and international exchange. Under the new budget, the Netherlands’s big museums remain fully funded but some 50% is taken from the smaller R&D sector in the so-called visual and performing arts (the Dutch government still sticks to these archaic divisions). The new budget thus gives way to the familiar while expecting the private sector to pick up the tab for the experimental, the challenging and the minority. If ever there was upside-down thinking in terms of simple market economics, this is it.

(…)
or later it will be published in OPEN


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