Kannibaal: Elitism in Art 2007

A short intro about the context of this exhibition.

In 2003 a group of artists moved to Bijlmer, a suburb of Amsterdam with an extremly bad reputation in the eyes of
most white Dutch people.
We were part of the gentrification idea of the Dutch politicians who were at this time all still high on Richard Flo-Rydas book
"the Rise of the Creative Class".
The fear was that the creative class were all leaving for Berlin after the city of Amsterdam tore down Vrieshuis Amerika
& the Silo building in the port of Amsterdam. Two immense buildings that housed a lot of artists.
According to Flo-Ryda no modern city in the west can compete in a knowledge based economy without its creative class
(artists, graphic designers, hackers, club kids, electronic musicians and so on...aso)
By building artist living/studio spaces in Bijlmer the politicians thought they had come up with an ace solution.
The poor artists were removed from the much too profitable downtown, the yuppies could move in and the artists were sent like
cultural paratroopers to Bijlmer to sort all the problems out according to the old gentrification idea...
first you send some artists, the some bands, then a cafe, some gay people
and eventually you have turned a problem area into a booming creative cool area.
(Williamsburg in N.Y. & Echo Park & Silverlake in L.A. being other exampes).
We came with a group of artists that were more or less integrated in the international and national artworld, we were
defenitely more "creme de la creme" than the artists already living here.
Who by the way were also all white artists (Bijlmer being an area of 100 000 people of which 80 000 are people of color, usually some nuance of brown).
We took up 11 of the ca 30 apartments in the Florijn building, the other 19 were occupied by artists less succesfully integrated in the intenational art scene,
artists who were painting indians and green dots and such things, pissed off at us for our international carreers and wondering why THEY
were never showing in any contemporary (or at the very least modern) musems or biennials.
This conflict brewed for a couple of years and got quiet ugly at times, even the police became involved and the mudslinging was defenitely ON!!!
We decided to do a show with ALL the artists living in Florijn in P///AKT in Amsterdam.
These images are from that show AND...this was the opening text I wrote for the exhibition.






_________________Elitism In Art______________________________________________
Elitisme in Art!

Tuff subject...you don't want to be an elitist do you?
Or maybe you do!
We have to define it.

Elitism = The idea that some people are MORE qualified than others to make judgements .

Why is that such a hard idea to swollow in art, whereas I would have NO
problem with the idea that a professor in chemistry is more
qualified than me to talk about chemistry.

Or that Ronaldhino who is a better footballer than me, could teach me a thing or two about football, or is that another thing!?
I accept that some people know more than me about MANY things and I have no problem with it.

This problem probably has to do with the idea of Democracy and knowledge. Everybody has a right to vote.
We actually don't assume that people know anything about anything to be able to vote.
But at least they know VERY good what their lives look like and what their problems are
and that should count for something.
So maybe it is like having 16 million elitist experts about their own lives voting about their own lives...is that elitistic?

Elitism also has to do with Joseph Beuys idea that "Everybody is an artist".
The opposite idea of that is Martin Kippenbergs GREAT, funny reply!
"Every artist is a Human being"

Am I pro-elitism if I think that it is also about passion and hours that you put in and knowledge.
If you love something , then you are also more qualified to judge it.
If you have put in the hours, read books, gone to exhibitons, thought about art,
maybe even made art (although that is not necessary according to curators and art historians,
even though I might disagree...or maybe not, they put in OTHER hours than I do...like reading more books than me probably).

I am however NOT willing to take shit from people who doesn't even LIKE or care about art.
People who don't care about art but still feels qualified to make judgements.
Why would it be so hard to accept that you might actually have to like art to understand it.
It is like a relationship or maybe even love...You get what you give.
Or..."if you give...you get it ".
Some people understands their wives paintings or maybe they only likes Andy Warhol but that is not enough.
That just basically only gives you the right to talk about your wifes paintings and/or Andy Warhol.

This is a problem too with some art students...they often think it is enough
to care about their own art, and of course there ARE loners out there
that have come up with great art and music sitting in a hut on a mountain
... but those are the exceptions.
Not something you would recommend to most people (certainly not art students)
Here I can respect some curators or arthistorians that actually LIKES art and read about it and tries
to understand things, because they are interested in something other than themselves,
something you can sometimes NOT say about certain art students.
So maybe it is just about love AGAIN!
Those who put in time, passion, hours and LOVE are qualified to judge and
for them it would be OK to say that they are the elite, because they have deserved it!!!!

So why would it then be so hard to just tell some people to shut up!
Or tell them "You just don't know enough about this subject to talk about it"
Why is is so scary for people to have this feeling that they just don't know very much
about a certain subject and just accept it.
Or maybe it would be nicer to say
"You just don't LOVE enough to be able to talk about this subject".

I am perfectly willing to shut up about Cricket because I just don't care enough,
know enough or love enough to be able to talk about it.
In art for some strange reason EVERYBODY and his grandmother thinks
they are qualified to open their mouth.
I don't get it!

So am I then against democracy...not really.
People can make which ever art they want (informed and curious...or not)
or talk about art in every which way they want.
But just don't come with uninformed BS outside of what you like, know
or care about!
And THIS for some strange reason seems to happen in art a lot more often than in say quantum physics.

Of course you have the difference between hard fact proven scientific areas which is result
oriented and easy to prove...if a guy runs 100 meters faster than another guy, then it is actually proven that that guy is
REALLY faster.

In art, football and many other areas that is much harder to prove.
In soft areas, where taste and judgement plays a role things is of course a matter of taste,
but then make sure that it is a WELL INFORMED matter of taste and judgement.
Why would that be too much to ask and considerd fascistic and elitistic (in a bad way)?

Democracy again...
people vote for the people they thinks can make the best judgements
but then those elected people STILL consults the experts.
We can vote for who we wants to have as minister of defence, but he or she will still
consult experts from Clingendael ( Dutch military think tank) for knowledge and ask people who
knows things about that subject.
Is that Elitism?
WHY do you have that in art and NOT in other areas.

Ok, in football everybody ALSO thinks he is the best coach of the Dutch national team.
Holland- 16 million coaches!
But they don't REALLY think that they would know better, they just do it
because it's fun and part of the game.
Most people agrees that Louis van Gaal probably knows more than them about coaching.
Is it still even proven that some coaches are better than others?
yes probably...maybe,...but we can't prove it!
Two coaches never coached the same team under the exact same conditions.
Luck is important and football is not a science but about coaching chaos and coincidences.


Why does it have such a bad name...elitism.

The idea that some know more and are better informed and in a better position
to make judgements.
So is it then not a good tip to tell people "if you don't love something...you are probably not qualified to judge it?"
Probably not because you would only get a bunch of yes sayers...
like having Britney Spears fanclub decide her position in the history of music...
She would probably end up at number one!
But it is probably a good thing to tell people "If you don't CARE about something, it is probably a good thing to not judge it".
Caring being different to liking or loving something...

Can someone who doesn't like something be as well informed as someone who likes it?
Maybe...but that would be a VERY strange person...why would you
spend massive amounts of time and energy (because that is what it takes to become well informed)
finding out things about stuff you don't even like.
Sounds a bit masochistic.

If I had to choose I would go with the fan or lover for information...
even though love is blind it is probably also very well informed.
I will just assume that Brad Pitt knows more about Angelina Joline than me
although I might not be able to prove it scientifically.

Jonas Ohlsson













Dr. Broadcast (aka Peter Hallberg)




Krist Gruijthuijsen