The artists in the exhibition put the opinions of the public to the test with works in which established social standards and values are undermined, denied and reversed.
The presentation ‘Kingdom Come’, compiled by Sea Urchin Editions (Ben Schot), revolved around utopia as an alternative for the ever-expanding consumer society. Since 2000, the independent publisher Sea Urchin has focused on works from the historical avant-garde and counterculture, movements that, besides being committed to destroying the existing power structures, were also a mixture of all kinds of utopian tendencies. Sea Urchin seeks to reposition the counterculture through the publication of printed matter (incl. André Breton & Philippe Soupault) and by distributing pamphlets from the collective The Buggers.
For ‘Kingdom Come’, Sea Urchin invited a number of independent publishers, thinkers, and artists to react to the concept of utopia. Gerard Bellaart (Cold Turkey Press) presented a dystopian selection from his archive. Former Provo and Kabouter leader Roel van Duijn made a selection from his private archive (housed in the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis Amsterdam). Cary Loren (The Bookbeat/The End Is Here) presented the Soviet science fiction film Aelita (1924) by Yakov Protazanov. René van der Voort (Any Record) compiles a presentation on communes. The Buggers produced a flag and a pamphlet. And the Somniloquy Institute presented a utopian slideshow.
The total-installation ‘Forty Years of Boredom 1968-2008’ by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and Jonas Staal functioned as a three-dimensional manifesto. The heart of their project was the film pamphlet ‘Follow Us or Die’. Staal and Van Gerven Oei collected images from the Internet and film archives in which, among other things, the perpetrators of well-known incidents of violence (such as the ’high school shootings’ in Columbine and Virginia Tech) are speaking. From the disjointed film, an image emerges of aggressive and existential protest. As a pendant, Guy Debord’s film pamphlet ‘Réfutation de tous les jugements’ (1975) was screened. In the film Debord parries the criticism of his controversial film ‘La société du spectacle’ (1973) with an argument on the myth of the involved viewer. The artists concluded their presentation with ‘Against Irony’: a burning protest against the use of irony in art and theory, chiselled into bluestone slabs.
Daniele Pario Perra presented ‘Twenty Questions to Baron Montesquieu’. In this video the eightteenth century statesman is contacted through a medium. A scientific committee poses a number of pressing questions to which Montesquieu replies. In 1748 Montesquieu published ’De l’esprit des lois’, in which he introduced the trias politica (separation of the legislative, implementing, and judicial powers). The current Western democracies are based on this principle. Pario Perra considered it essential for us to turn to political leaders of the past in the absence of modern-day visionary leadership.
Mostafa Heravi presented a film based on the famous fresco ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci. In his ‘The Supper’ the twelve male apostles have become twelve women. They sit dressed in chador at a table around a male Jesus figure. In slow images, Heravi presents us two versions of an unspoken story in which the mutual relationships are highly charged.
Anne Schiffer‘s works examined the relationship between social hierarchy and the use of accompanying status symbols. She is particularly interested in the difference between winners and losers, between accepted and unacceptable behaviour. She raised the matter of the failure of great ideologies by showing that which truly governs us: the power of money.
Justin Wijers presented drawings of the victims of violent crime and road traffic accidents that he finds on the Internet. He portrayd the anonymous victims, which can be found in abundance on morbid Internet sites, with great devotion and attention. With thin colour felt-tip pens, he renders the battered bodies in tenuous, precise lines. The colourful patterns of the felt-tip pen make the unrecognisably mutilated bodies reminiscent of a contour map or a field with flowering plants.