Art is rarely alone and often shares the space with something or someone else. Art is in workspaces, public spaces and museums. Art shares not only the physical space but also the ideas, knowledge, experience, opinions and other expressions. How art, the context and other expressions influence each other in the same space often remains invisible and unsaid. They seem to coexist in the same space: 'By coincidence in the same place'.
Not only works of art share the space, but artists are also located in several places at the same time. The 'Bread and Butter jobs' of the artists here in the Borgerstraat are an example of this. The variety is great: dishwasher, archivist, art or philosophy teacher, curator, legal assistant, babysitter and much and much more.
I imagine that artists are a bit like Superman and Clark Kent: a part of the day neat office clerk and another part of the day freed from the squeezing bonds of economics and bureaucracy. Leading two lives not only gives them freedom, both lives inform and possibly influence each other as well. They are 'by coincidence part of the same life'.
I recognize the life of multiple lives. I am a dancer, researcher, entrepreneur and organizational consultant. Like most artists and Superman, I usually separate those lives. But more and more I am curious what happens when those lives come together in the same space and intertwine with each other.
I am convinced that we need to free ourselves from the squeezing frameworks and rules of today's economy and organizations in order to achieve a more sustainable and socially just society. This is only possible if we allow these different lives, worldviews and ways of being and doing things to intertwine. That is why I invite people to step into a gap. A space where art, doing business, organizing, making and research meet and influence each other.
In this way we can work together on what Heyer Thurnheer calls: "Realizing a self-defined societal ethical life design".
The Other and Elsewhere
I appeal to people's desire or imagination to escape what seems to be fixed, what seems self-evident and unchangeable. To belong somewhere other than where you are assigned, to be the Other or Elsewhere. Antjie Krog wrote an essay, 'Begging to be Black', in which she tried with all her might to be the Other, the Black instead of the White South African. Donna Haraway, a zoologist and philosopher who researches encounters between species, dreamed as a child of being abducted by the Cherokee.
We can try to flee elsewhere or try to become the other, but in the end it's all about the encounter, about the invitation. To let multiple worlds be together in one space at the same time. "Being in the same place by coincidence.
Can we use or stage that coincidence? And how can we link different stories?
The Tegenlicht broadcast: Man across Europe shows how artists are transforming an old salami factory squatted by refugees and other outcasts in a distant suburb of Rome into a museum of modern art. On the upper floor, the residents have pieced together houses made of scattered material.
In their houses and downstairs in the large halls of the industrial complex the most beautiful art is exhibited. This is the Museo MAAM the museum of the Other and of Elsewhere.
A change of place, perspective and relationships makes new meaning possible and therefore new value. By reaching out to the Other and Elsewhere, new value, perspectives and meanings can arise.
I work in the intermediate space of art, science and entrepreneurship to give a voice to unusual or radical ideas about sustainable and social developments in society and the economy. The combination of these three opens a playing field, an in-between space in which we can (re)interpret, (re)understand and (re)give meaning to ourselves and each other in our environment on the basis of perception, relationships and values.
The goal is not so much to emphasize the manufacturability of things as to give meaning to our ability to make things meaningful and thus to dedicate ourselves to what we really care about. No longer rely on the economy as the determinant of what is of value, but give our own desire, dreams, ethics, fantasy, imagination and connectedness a role in it again.
I invite office clerks, managers, entrepreneurs, researchers and artists to relate to the Other, to ask a question to and enter into a conversation with the Other and Elsewhere. To come together 'in the same place by coincidence'.
I am co-initiator of and work as curator for the Search center of Rabo Kunstzaken. We work with artists who deal with social and sustainability issues. For example by conducting artistic research, reflecting on incongruities and initiating extraordinary suggestions or interventions in organizations, the neighbourhood or in the virtual world.
Together with various departments within the bank, I ask artists to create a work that touches on themes within the bank. Together with the artists, we make a link between their work and that of people inside and outside the bank along the way and afterwards.
About freedom and rules
Koen Delaere spent a day working with a group of people who feel swayed by developments within the bank: sometimes they have to do everything neatly within the frameworks and rules, and other times they have to take the initiative and cause innovation. When do you do what? How do you walk back and forth between the two and how can you learn to make your own reality out of freedom after 20 years of rules?
Koen told stories about artists' studios: what they look like and how that helps them to get inspired or not. Do you want emptiness or just a range of objects, sounds, images around you. Do you want to be alone or together? Always in the same space or alternating? Looking outside or inside? He talked about artists who don't get out of bed until they know what they are going to make, or the opposite, don't sleep until inspiration comes. About coming up with random or purposeful rules and then looking at what can and cannot come out of it. Slowly but surely the people in the group got images of what works for them. Sometimes helped with a few questions, or making a link to a previous event or action. But mainly because they were in the same room with the artist and took the time and carried the inconvenience of interweaving their own ideas and questions with those of the other.
Abundance, shrinkage and cabbage
Arne Hendriks is 'Artist in Residence' at Rabobank, where he is investigating whether we can perhaps shrink in abundance in addition to the prevailing paradigm of growth. Can we embrace the idea of smaller and less and from there shape a different relationship with the earth.
2017 was a good year for coal. The white coals were flourishing. There was an abundance. The abundance that Arne wants to shrink, the abundance of knowledge and expressions that I consider one of the basic principles for developing a sustainable and social economy.
But as it turns out, we don't know what to do with abundance in today's economy. Abundance becomes waste, becomes waste, is destroyed. Abundance has no economic value.
This brought us to a new question: how do we learn to deal with abundance? Or how does abundance become of value?
Because finding out, Arne and I started a joint research project. Together with Mediamatic and Rabobank, we save thousands of coal. Our goal is to give value to the abundant coal: economically, socially, culturally or otherwise. The coal is used within Rabo and Mediamatic for lunches and dinners. Experiments are being conducted with new dishes and other preservation methods. Each meal brings you deeper into the cabbage, allows you to experience its stratification and perhaps gives you ideas on how to deal with abundance.
The meals provide an opportunity to talk to each other about the cabbage and the issue of abundance. The cabbage thus becomes the metaphor, the practical example, the experimental space to find out how abundance can become of value. What transformation is needed for this? Of the cabbage, of how we think about or look at cabbage, of what we do or do not do with cabbage or of the way in which we value too much cabbage.
Can we find ways to make abundance socially, culturally and economically valuable? How do we do that? What does a food economy look like that contributes to a better, sustainable relationship between people and people and earth?
During the dinners, economists, artists, bankers, farmers and all sorts of others met. We talked and shared dreams, ideas and worries. The macroeconomist opposite me at the table convinced me of the impossibility of going from scarcity to abundance in one fell swoop. Then the system goes bankrupt. The banker next to me told me enthusiastically how the Rabo is slowly but surely, together with more and more different small service providers, giving room to new forms of enterprise and economy from abundance that achieves social and sustainable impact. That is the moment that catches my imagination. I see the towers of the Rabo headquarters in Utrecht in front of me. On the ground floor, the only part of the bank you can enter without a pass, are workplaces for guests and employees. Over the past year, we have increasingly turned that space into an in-between space where people, work and art come together. A place where cross-fertilization can take place and renewal can take place. An in-between space as a source or operating base for players in a new sustainable and social economy. Imagine that we slowly expand that in-between space. Giving more and more new entrepreneurs with whom the bank works a place. Pushing up the security gates one floor at a time. The bank is slowly transforming into a platform for an economy of abundance. One floor higher every six months. Twenty-five floors, then in 13 years' time we'll find ourselves in a completely new reality. Well, my imagination was running wild. Or could that image be the beginning of something new? I decide to stand up and share my fantasy as part of the research and the work of art we are creating. I tap my glass and begin to tell....
This open studio is also an invitation to enter the space of art, the artist, and to intertwine what is there with your own world, ideas and expressions. To be with the Other and Elsewhere: 'at the same place by coincidence' and to experience what that brings about.