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On freedom and Market

Comment by Joe Cillen

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose” artist Janis Joplin sang it beautifully and finally freed herself from it all. Accidental, willingly or coincidentally she had had enough of the repression, the paradox. It has always been a struggle for artists to deal with freedom and complying to the market, nowadays even much more than then.

Plastification, modification are the terms. Tunes are boxed in for groups and herds of people and that’s the market. Today monotonous and numbing beats, blasting sounds and an overexposure of pictures are big business. It’s plugged in on all occasions. The masses are drugged by the media “believe this - buy that” and multinationals do the rest. Prophecies by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley came true. Today heroes such as Adam Smith and Milton Friedman lead the imperialistic capitalistic bunch into free and global markets. The Chicago mob stood for deregulation and laissez-faire. The W.M.F. and the world-bank joined up and world leading political forces were eager to implement their power upon non-obedient states “bringing democracy and freedom” were their magic words. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and their chichi boys Blair, Berlusconi and Balkenende ( to name but a few) as resetters of norms and values.
Ironically it could be seen as a farce, in reality it’s a drama and they should be prosecuted. There is overwhelming material to proof so. Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein wrote about it and numorous documentary films have been made on the subject. Innocent citizens, countries such as Chile, Iran, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan were victims of repression, intimidation and war. They sold illusions and lies to enforce imperialistic hegemony. A perverted game where profits count and “ Das Kanonenfleish “ will pay the price. Targeting the market and collecting the fee certainly “goes” in the arts. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Saatchi are representing the field. They manipulate and fix prices. They resell old masters, discover new old masters, project contemporary old artists and new works. They invent and introduce new artists. They are familiar with every trick in the book to lure the masses into their flim-flams, as using a willing Damien Hirst, or a new battery of Chinese artists. The Tate and major museums through out the world are eager to jump onto that wagon. Is it not illustrative and pathetic that now, during a market meltdown and a failing bank system prices paid for works of art are enormous.
That goes also for the volume of the works. A huge sculpture of a baby as big as three elephants, to a skull dressed up with diamonds. To me signs of an emotional and spiritual meltdown. The worshipping of the golden calf. In the “essay of human” Alexander Pope refers to art as “an unnoticed coincidence”. The Belgian artist Panamarenco said “either you see it or you don’t”. These kinds of statements may provide hope. Surely they encourage the use of all senses to our best abilities.
It would be wise trying to have a consensus on what common sense could be. Room for dialogue about freedom, about “nothing left to loose” a blessing. Renaissance and rebirth, two words saying the same thing are options to reset. Reminiscing about the pre-function of art, the post epic creativity were inspiring and made me hopeful. Talking to an Egyptian lawyer at the foot of Mount Sinai last year, he concluded that “we are all fucked” and may as well enjoy the ride. Far too cynical for me, I’d rather believe in a way out.
In developing the art-concept “Motorschip Noordereiland” I found a way to escape. The earth becomes a ship it floats in eternal space, direction nowhere, refusing to become a red dwarf.