Augustus / September
New elections will be held for the Dutch House of Representatives, or Second Chamber of Parliament, on September 12th. Deciding how to vote based on one's perspective on culture is no easy task, because nearly all the parties have simply gone along with the disproportionately heavy budget cuts to culture initiated by Halbe Zijlstra. During the negotiations about the Lenteakkoord, or Spring Agreement, only the leftist GroenLinks party made any attempt to get the cutbacks in the arts off the table. All the rest seemed to think it is perfectly acceptable. One minor correction did get passed: the proposed increase in VAT or sales tax on culture was scrapped. That is supposed to be concession enough.
The lack of interest in culture on the parts of the political parties, which are also busy slashing arts funding at the municipal level, indicates that the crisis that the arts and culture sector is facing is not economic or financial, but social. What is up for grabs here is the position of arts and culture as a publicly supported necessity, as was immediately argued at the start of the protests over a year ago. If it is not to fall into even greater isolation, the art world is expected to work at finding its support from society at large.
Part of this debate is the awareness that art and politics have an influence on one another. In this issue, artists Jonas Staal and Matthijs de Bruijne are asked about their recent attempts to use their art projects to make a direct contribution to a broader social discourse. We also stop to look at artists who hope to be a political factor of significance by way of academies that they themselves have established.
We also focus on a number of young Dutch cultural philosophers who do not necessarily relate the current rise in idealism in art to the political situation, but see it as a reaction that has in fact been going on for some time, in response to the cynicism and relativism of postmodernism. They have also given this movement a name: Metamodernism.
In addition, this issue devotes considerable attention to photography, not so much photography as a medium, but as a discipline, and consequently an activity. The photographic act embraces a range of difficult ethical decisions, which we look at with the help of a number of contemporary cases.
- Domeniek Ruyters
The art world has long acted as if photography can only be art when it is rare and exceptional. Only now that it has become digitalized can photography be appreciated for what it truly is: a mass product.
If you think that every ethical boundary in photography has been breached by now, you haven’t seen the work of the American photographer Leigh Ledare yet. His work balances on the boundary of the permissible, and according to many, is just over the edge. This fall he is exhibiting at Wiels in Brussels.
18/03/13 Christophe van Gerrewey
He is a photographer without a camera. David Bergé takes people in tow and shows them a city, from scene to scene. Make your acquaintance with his AalstWalk.
Is it acceptable to just lean over someone who is in danger of losing their life and take their picture? After years of working as a war photographer, Luc Delahaye is investigating this issue in work within the context of art. His efforts are generating the requisite lack of understanding.