maandag 29 april 2013

2013/16 Eco confusion

Eco confusion
Springtime in my mind and all around. Love is all around. Pretty heavy gastroenteritis and wondering what is worth pissing off. Not that I am in the mood to piss things off, but I need a distraction. I am tired of my stomach, and my country is inundated with the queen’s abdication and the inauguration of a new king. I can imagine people have nothing better to do or to talk about, so... let them. However, everything in our country related to the royal family turns into orange, as that is one of the names of the royal family. So, we have to deal with orange police cars, orange eggs, orange insurance, etc.
So, I kept my eyes open while driving around the neighborhood and saw this site where trees were cut down and a brand new ecoduct will appear. I am not sure if you are familiar with ecoducts. My spelling checker does not know the word. An ecoduct is a bridge that connects two pieces of nature divided by a road. It is a bridge for animals. We also have a political party for the animals in our parliament, so that is not such a unique thing in the Netherlands. In our polder model of doing politics, remarkable compromises always arise between those who have business interests and those who say they represent nature. Business is simple. They always share the same goal. Any other interest is more difficult, because the knowledge acquired over time changes the visions and ideas. Besides, when a group is successful in achieving its goals, the successors of these individuals have to come up with something new. This has led to a rat race with strange results. Sometimes, when I am abroad, I try to explain how this Dutch characteristic functions. You take something: usually, I use a lighter as an example. And you explain that this is a new thing: unique, nicely made, great idea. And you show it to a Dutchman. He will admit and recognize that it is nicely made and it is a great idea. He will ask you if you can make some money with it, and after you answer, he puts away the lighter. “Next!”
So, there was once a situation where a highway was being built through the biggest nature preserve in the Netherlands, and the compromise with the advocacy groups was that there would be several ecoducts. This was a great compromise: the nature groups could prove that they had some influence and the businessmen got an extra job. Now you see more and more ecoducts, as if we still even have that much nature in the Netherlands, or places where we accept nature. Near Utrecht there is an ecoduct, but the problem is that it was meant only for small animals. The deer and wild pigs are not supposed to use it, because they might damage the property of people living on the other side of the bridge. Huh, who can explain that to the deer? The result is that hunters are posted on the other side of the bridge to kill all large hooved animals.
It has never been proven that ecoducts do what they are made for: Ecoducts are built to reduce collisions with wild animals, increase their habitat, and ensure their survival. Research results were based on two examples. A critical expert said: We do not know how they really function. So, you do not want to have too few of them, but also not too many. These ecoducts cost between 2 and 12 million euros each, and all those who represent the pieces of land we are talking about continue to build more and more. Have I ever mentioned the number of roundabouts in the Netherlands, and the cost of those things. Crisis?? What crisis?!?
So, springtime in my mind and searching for something to be a little frustrated about resulted in a call for new organization. Another great day for me.

maandag 22 april 2013

2013/15 We Have A Situation

We Have a Situation
Interactive artistic acting might be a reflection of what we call “networking” these days. It’s something we’ve been doing ever since before we became human. Maybe it is the other way around: artistic behavior became a reflection of life itself, instead of an elusive, visionary thing. Watching people think about something and then talk about it is quite popular. It is amazing to see how addicted we are to communication, though communication can mean many different things. In the theater or a company or government department, “communications” is the particular department of the organization that communicates with the outside world.
Last week, I took part in a workshop called “We Have a Situation Here”: some kind of 4-layer community art inter-multi-media discussion seminar conversation about mobility. It was really useless in my opinion, but apart from that is was pretty good: quite a bit of fun, and many relevant issues were covered. “It’s the content, stupid,” says the spin doctor to his boss right after their failed performance. People go for content, no matter what they are interested in. Anyway, it was about my city, Eindhoven, and the international moderators of the program were looking for problems to discuss and expose.
Birds of a feather, etc., so I was interested. For one reason or another, I was on the panel, but there are no problems here in this town. If we talk about my city from a global perspective, with its quiet nights and clean streets and functioning streetlights. If I compare that to what I have seen in other parts of the world, through the media and with my own eyes, there are really no problems in this town. This answer gives us an extra advantage, because now we do not have to criticize our own society. And since the Dutch word “kritiek” can be translated as both “criticize” and “critical”, it unfortunately suffers from a bad image; criticizing anything, even if only for a moment and, for example, to stimulate other perceptions, is preferably not done. Having no problems makes it easier to hide them under the surface. I’m not sure if I live in a friendly town. And if we never say we do not, we have no problems with it. But, of course, this is not really how problems are solved.
Maybe that is why, to me, that workshop was good. I did not mention the war. The war is not in my head anymore. After the Cold War and Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Balkan Box of Pandora, another Gulf War, and many others, now there are just people in my head. So, I cannot forget the friends I met. Hiding from the macro world and escaping into the virtual world, I have recently seen such an impressively great amount of beautiful paintings from Syrian artists on some website on Facebook simply called Syrian Artists. In the meantime, we just keep working – doing what we can with what we have. Nothing special about that, even if it becomes uncommon to live like that.
- I think art is the only political power, the only revolutionary power, the only evolutionary power, the only power to free humankind from all repression. I say not that art has already realized this, on the contrary, and because it has not, it has to be developed as a weapon. At first there are radical levels, then you can speak about special details.

dinsdag 16 april 2013

2013/14 Hokay Hey

Hokay Hey.
So many people have died this year. Several of my friends, many friends and family of friends, celebrities, journalists, women in Central America, children in war-torn countries. Today, it is Thatcher’s day. Hokay hey. “Hokay hey” means something like “It is a good day to die.” It is a Native American proverb, used by proud people and warriors when they consider it a good day to go and fight. Meanwhile, other people consider it a good day to rest forever. “The world is so beautiful, it will be the same when I am not there anymore.” It is just a matter of perception, I guess, or timing...
I have seen that proverb around, even in Tehran, and while that was completely coincidental, and maybe even unintentional, it added nuance and different angles to a story that needed to be covered up. But now the headlines say Margaret Thatcher has died. She sold off council housing and destroyed labor rights and labor organizations. Society did not exist, in her opinion. So, a European Union was unthinkable in the first place. Ken Livingstone is right about her: check him out. Of course she is human, but she is also far right of herself. Deregulation and privatization. She was the frontrunner in what turned out to be the destruction of a social form of democratic society that was taking place in Western Europe. We had a social welfare system, national water, electricity, and communications companies, pensions, social housing systems… Now, that all sounds like Communism.
Western Europe reflected back to the East as the East did to the West, and finally, the West created more desire in the East than the other way around. That is why they fell for us. Hollywood did the trick. Meanwhile, for many years we have reflected on our society in relation to neighboring Eastern Europe. But Thatcher was the beginning of the end of that. She raised the UK to new heights, as they say, opening the door to financial cowboys, intensification of complexity, which finally became the platform for virtualizing wealth. Some kind of Pandora’s Box strategy. After us, the deluge. The UK was not at the end of its power, nor was Europe, but it certainly was the end of morality among the elite. And Margaret Thatcher herself admitted that in a marvelous song by the Dead Kennedys. They have a song, or actually a remix, called “Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round.” The title does not really cover the content: it is much more serious. Just copy & paste the title and search on YouTube. They took the last straw and went global with all their financial activities. After salt, centuries ago, now gold was abandoned as an indicator of wealth: power to the numbers, the ones and the zeros.
Now, 30 years later, at the tail end of the little “positive” wave they created, we have situations like this: Tax Havens (off-shore banking) invoke the Bank Secrecy Act to become utter Treasure Islands, where today’s Financial Pirates hide their Booty (see also theIndependency Project). The existence of these Treasure Islands permits, and even promotes, large-scale corruption (institutional, corporate, and criminal corruption). Corruption is the single greatest cause, the underlying disease, if you will, of a multiplicity of serious ills, or symptoms, including war, crime, human rights violations, general injustice, and the destruction of the environment and our planet.
I must say that Tony Blair did his very best to finish the job, so this is not all Maggy’s doing. European countries show their nationalism through just these kinds of actions, which are popular and self-serving. Maybe Blair, too, will die this year. Maybe all the prime ministers who are willing to go to war to promote self-interests will die this year. Death has been tailing us for such a long time that in the end, you might be surprised to find it suddenly in front of you.
But Hey
Hokay Hey

donderdag 11 april 2013

2013/13 Cannot maynot will not

Cannot may not will not has not is not knows not

One has to do something. Every parameter in our collective organization tells us we have a few options in choosing how to make a living: slime and be dull and have a job; slime and be corrupt and make yourself feel you live better than others; be extremely talented in popular activities like sports; win a lottery; or be an entrepreneur. So, we start doing something. I mean, we already were doing something, but now we have to make much more money doing it, because we have to pay ourselves for every hour. Prices keep rising, materials need to be maintained, networking and acquisition take a lot of time… So, besides the fact we were already giving 100%, we have to pump up the activities.

What to do? Well, actually this is not a problem. We know who we are, where we are, what we want, how to do it, and where to find the right people to help. We know how to be patient, and we have learned from the past. “You probably need permission” is a frequently heard phrase these days. What kind of permission? Who knows?!!! Then, I remembered this government information campaign from some year ago: the need for all the different permissions created too much bureaucracy. So, the structures were combined and things were meant to become easier. Now, the document you need to place a container in my yard is as thick as a horse. The decision will take between 8 and 26 weeks. Maximum prize: 1,384 euros. No minimum prize.

We have done so much to keep records of things, and we have accepted so many rules, that now citizens are not able to follow all the rules at the same time. Besides those who do not want to live by the rules because they have already decided they are too smashed down to have to do so, there are many who would like to but can’t, and even more who simply stay within the lines by being apathetic, watching TV, or escaping into cyberspace.

Whatever any department of our local government does, it can be overruled by the juridical department. And their rules are not kept in books but in libraries. I could give a compliment to the journalists who detailed the endless networks of corporate businesses with hundreds of subsidiaries in Bermuda, Jersey, the Virgin Islands and other such places. A lot of these island tax havens are British. No wonder they gave up everything in the EU in order to keep free reign over the City. The budgets on these islands are bigger.

Today, I prefer spontaneous improvisational organization. Away from the institutionalized functioning. Aronson (1969) proposed that cognitive dissonance can also arise when people become aware (new cognition) that their present behavior is at odds with the image they had of themselves (old cognition). In that case, then, it is not related to a process at the unconscious level. 

maandag 1 april 2013

2013/11 Satisfaction is an ambition

Satisfaction is an ambition 

While the people of the world tried to make the world move faster, I got distracted. Having the pleasure of my hobby, my interests, and my work be one and the same with my life, I finally realized I do not have to run anymore. Besides, art is not sports. Running faster does not make you better. At first, I thought something was wrong with me. Why can’t I find the urge and the will to continue nonstop every hour of the day as I did before? It wasn’t long before I started finding things to blame for taking away my motivation: Living in a country that is addicted to changes and new things, I sometimes felt my work was less interesting to people in my society because they had already seen it before – even if it was 7 years ago and it has grown 600% since then.
It must be said that I am an artist of last resort. I was a social worker and used the arts and music to reach the audience and convey more than just enjoyment. Painting, music, film, theater, literature, poetry, and dance are all expressions made by humans, and humans mainly communicate in order to be together. Only after social work was cut from the budgets and I became unemployed did I have a name to give to what I was doing. There is no room for a description in the space available on those forms and factsheets used everywhere. So, okay, call me an artist, if that makes things clearer. Whereas before I did exactly the same thing, but in the name of the society I live in, now, I have to do it in the name of myself. But I feel like a lion. I worked my butt off for my society and fulfilled my responsibility with pleasure, being a peace warrior among soldiers and civilians. But now that I feel like a lion and act like one: I only do something when I am hungry.
I started to blame the arts commissions. How come my work can be presented everywhere in the world but is not capable of winning support from one commission in the Netherlands? I have tried to find an answer, but I stopped because it would only be speculation. Obviously, I am not a journalist, and I know many people who should be happy about that. I could have blamed the incestuous situation at arts organizations or among Amsterdam “canal beltway” insiders, for whom New York appears to be much closer than Eindhoven, or those anywhere alike. I could have blamed all those who might think politics is inappropriate in the arts. I can only say that political appointments are inappropriate (great issue for another column), but I assume that by now these people are a bit more enlightened, and if they are not, I am happy not to have to meet them too often. I could have blamed the EU, because I do not believe dozens of countries decided independent of one another at the same time that massive budget cuts in the arts might help their national deficits, especially when you know that the entire budget for the arts in the world is a fraction of those deficits. I could have been angry about the social effects taking place everywhere: out of sight = out of heart. But why be angry at facts?
Sometimes, I try to think of solutions. How could I introduce new people onto the team to get a new constellation of management, acquisition, and presentation? But after a few years of unemployment and budget cuts that came at the same time, most financial buffers were gone in no time, and it turns out it is hard to convince people to participate for no payment. I expected to find people with active minds who realized that with the work I do, more people could make their living. But that seems to be an illusion. People consider it mine, or at least not enough theirs to take part. Maybe it is the same as with women: when you are looking for the woman of your life, you will not find any, but when you are just yourself, you might meet them easily. I thought about working as I did before, but then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute: I was a manager, theater-maker, curator, driver, mechanic, museum director, and webmaster all at the same time. But the normal evolution in these specialty fields is that each of these subjects demands more and more attention every time. Since that is the reason I was close to burn-out in the first place, better not make the same mistake again.”
Is this situation desperate? Not at all. Life is great and beautiful, despite the awful news presented to us by corporate media. I keep on traveling: I keep on meeting new people in new places with new faces who share with me the simplest of street philosophies. These people, probably unwittingly, have made me aware of the fact that life is good in itself and that artists, despite their talents and efforts, will not make the world a better place. They will only serve as a counterweight against those who destroy the beauty of life with their self-interest and egoism. So, my aims and ambitions are not so important anymore. Life itself is. Satisfaction became my new ambition, and with nice people it is easy to work on.