Etikettarkiv: Cultural policy

Artists on Cultural Policy and Anti-Economics

In the latest issue of KRO Konstnären I moderate a talk between some of the most interesting younger artists of Sweden. They seak openly on the lack of funding, terrible finansial conditions in museums and how to produce cutting-edge cultre and still make it sell. Follow the link to get inside.

Annonser
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We Don’t Need No Stinking Provocations – Konstfack Drops Their Internal Report

The Anna Odell/NUG affair at Konstfack, blogged about here a few week ago, have just taken a new turn with the release of the Konstfack internal report on the evens taken place in recent weeks. The report is written by Anders Stening, Prof Jonas Bohlin, Ann-Charlotte Jensen and Elisabet Nordwall. In a rare instance in yesterday’s newspaper DN, Ivar Björkman, who has shunned all media interaction prior to this report being finished, wrote a defense of the school. the report stinks, as critic Mårten Arndzén smells it; The students are not allowed anymore to transgress any ”moral laws”, they are not allowed to defame anyone or anything, be it an organisation or an individual. The graffiti artist NUG and his abrasive video Territorial Pissing is hardly mentionaed, as it is not considered to be Konstfack’s responsibility since it was made outside of curriculum. This surely is an act of institutional biopower in the sense of a constitutive forming of bios, a political self that is repressed into acting and thinking a certain way rather than just the zoe – just living. The report further announces that Anna Odell have created pain and misery AND a ”public doubt regarding Konstfack” in general. Yes, they are actually blaming her for the media spectacle taken place the past month! If this is not a an act of a coward, then nothing really is.

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Waiting for your project presentation Anna, hang in there!

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the students will be frightened into self censorship, as Arndzén does, artists haven again and again proven to have an explicable sense of disobedience towards biopower. What is clear is the problem of handling a national debate with art, morality and law at its core, without a dean of the school with any knowledge or balls. The blame should rightly be placed where it belongs – the dean of Konstfack Ivar Björkman – for not standing up to the students in any way. The report and his statement in DN only goes to prove that he is looking after the sanctity of a slow and trepid institution instead of the boarder crossings of its most important inhabitants – the students. Anna Odell has possibly hurt a few people by her interaction, most likely not broken any current laws, we know this only from slanted media reports, so before anyone cast judgment or her work, I would like to see, hear and experience her version of the events. If we are to institute her action as a piece of profound art or not must be a question underlined by as much respect for her project as we demand her to show all parties involved. I will be waiting for her presentation in May, let’s continue the debate when all cards are put on the table.

Reports by Sydsvenskan, Dagens Nyheter, Swedish Public Radiopress release from Konstfack

Sign up for the group I väntan på presentation av Anna Odell at Facebook and become humble and critical in an instance!

In case you missed the NUG video Territorial Pissing: Voilà!

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(New) Institutional Theory and The Swedish Report on Culture

The theory of new institutionalism as first formulated in 1984 by political scientists James March and Johan Olsen largely as a reaction to a stale function of ‘old’ institutionalism, they proposed a rethinking of the slumbering discussion of how and why institutions shape human behavior and thoughts and political governance. They envisioned a deviation from the ongoing political analysis that focused more on values and collective choice and desire, thus likely to shake the ground of rational choice theorists who believed that institution merely are the accumulation of individual choices based on utility-maximizing preferences. New Institutionalism was formulated from within the field of political science but have had ramifications in all social sciences since, and could well be repeated whilst browsing through the report on culture, that I commented on previously. March and Olsen write:

The bureaucratic agency, the legislative committee, the appellate court are arenas for contending social forces, but they are also collections of standard operating procedures and structures that define and defend interests. They are political actors in their own right. (1984, The New Institutionalism, James March and Johan Olsen)

Reading trough the report on culture I stop to think at page 30, in the 2nd part of the report The Reneawal Program (Förnyelseprogram), where the investigation develops ideas on why it has envisioned the massive reorganisation of Swedish governmental cultural institutions; the organisations that are to be formed will be ”more stable” and easier facilitate contact with ”other organisations” and ”interests”.

Now I agree that the first real report on culture back in ’74 did envision a new cluster of state organisations for cultural policy which today have come stale and old and thus are in a need of certain transformation and radicalisation. What scares me most about the vision presented in the new report is the view of the modulence of institutions to fit and adapt to the consumer of culture (or rather the pro-sumer), in such a blunt way that we tend to forget the aspects of production modes which shape what kind of culture we cultural workers are instigating. No contrast this to the interesting vision of critic Nina Möntmann in her essay The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism – Perspectives on a Possible Future in Trasversal, where she uses some case studies to look at how western styled art institutions can radicalize and shape an interesting structure for producers and consumers alike. Her recommendations are contrary to that of the report on culture, namely to shrink and facilitate devolution of current institutions:  

”…reduce the number of structures and standards, and disengage spaces from too many codes and contexts. Here, where we have an institutionalized art field – and consequently the opportunities to participate in semi-public spaces, but also the difficulties caused by the control mechanisms of these spaces – the options are somewhat different. Here there are inherently many categories and conventions for all kinds of art spaces, and alternatives are always measured against the official system that already exists and is increasingly defined by the politics of city marketing and sponsorship.”

Möntmanns starting point is the artworld integration of New Institutionalism, seen during the first part of 2000 in Rooseum nad Kunst-Werke in Berlin, breaking down barriers between the audience and the institutions. The project displayed there was exercising critique from within the institution, as a consequence of the strong curator that internalised the institutions critique of the 60’s into a structure for production and consumption = prosumption.

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Nina Möntmann begs to disagree with the Swedish cultural report's take on institutions of the future

OCA in Oslo published the booklet New Institutionalism in 2003 and brought the term into an art context, of course without much of the observations of James March and Johan Olsen, but through the concept of ”the institution of critique”, stemming from the seminal article on instutitional critique in the by artist Andrea Fraser. Many observers including Nina Möntmann, Tone Hansen, Trude Iversen (The new administration of aesthetics, 2006) and others view this period as lost to a fast and brutal neoliberal economy exploding in our face.  Well, new times cause for new solutions and I believe that the new institutions must make use of mechanisms of the economy rather than just fighting against it. not to be compared to just following the economy, but rather opposing it through its own mechanisms of destruction and change.

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New Definition of Art by the Swedish Minister of Culture – It’s All ‘Bout Morals

Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth jumps out of her closet to issue a strange critique of the institutional definition of art after seeing a video of graffiti artist NUG. The question must be if certain levels of moral crossings should be forbidden or condemned by the artworld and its institutions. Of course, as she suggests in this interview, killing someone should not be equaled as art, but how do we look upon civil disobedience or activism? There is an interesting text of art and morals in the anthology Arguing About Art, review of it here.

Watch a funny remix of the statement by Pluskvam or is it Lars Vilks:

Or the original video here

Stay tuned fo mo on this topic.

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Obama – Cultural policy we can believe in?

We are waiting feverishly for Hussein Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the US of A, while peaking on all the Propaganda weblogs we can find ofhow he will actually change things up in the White crib. If we start browsing for clues at the inauguration on 20th January we find an interesting point in the program with a poetry reading by Elizabeth Alexander, a well-known African American poet. He will also state his full name during the administering of the oath. The name Hussein is thought to give him a fuller image as a cultural remix, instead of a patriot hawk (Would not surprise me if Chingy jumps ut of the pulpit. O how i wish it to be true!). 

Obamart

Obamart

The cultural influence that Obama will exert National Post journalist Dave McGinn believes to be massive, but subtle, tracing back to Clinton, Nixon and last but least Reagan:

”There was a huge sense of possibility and of size. Everything had to be big. This was the era of stadium rock and huge megastar performances,” Baxter says. ”This was also the era of the sense that the singular figure could take on the forces of evil single-handedly and combat them. This whole notion of might making right and the confrontation with the Evil Empire – all this rhetoric made it’s way into popular culture.”

And so Hollywood gave us Arnold.

But how will Obama change the culture during his term as president? Nicholas Kristof in NY Times, offers the view that reality TV, which he associates with anti-intellectualism, Bush and humiliation will be on a deficit when Obama enters the field. So Obama seems to be seen as cool, knowledgeable and outspoken, a trait not seen in many politicians. Will this image of him prevail whilst fighting two wars and a great economic deficit? Well, he needs a boost of fervor in building a new image of himself as strong, balanced and capable to lead, something a number of staff members will help him out with. In the meantime a quick look at his policy for culture before the election:

  • Establishment of a ”Artist Corps” of young artists to promote art in schools and low-income communities
  • Increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
  • Health care for artists, and allowing artists to deduct the market value of any works they donate to museums or public institutions.

These are some basic credos his administration might be working on. The biggest change will probably be the reviewing of the two main agencies responsible for providing government grants to arts and culture projects, the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

In terms of change in contemporary art the shift from a unilateral Hawk in Bush to a mediator of a subtle sort in Obama, there will most likely be an upsurge in optimistic art (whatever that is), with many a look backs on the previous administration. when Obama starts to fit his shoes the criticism of his PR tactics will rise and artists such as Carey Young and Hans Haacke will prosper even more. A great criticism of propaganda or PR as we might call it, is definitely on the up-rise.

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