In Beyond Allegories politicians and artists discuss proposals on the role of art within governance, political mobilization and action.
The position of art in society has been heavily criticized in recent years. The reproach that government funds are misused merely to serve ‘leftist elites’ is widely heard. In Beyond Allegories, art does not position itself as a luxury item for an elite, nor is it a speculative object in the art market, or even an instrument of the creative city, but rather it positions itself as a power that aims for a new imagination – and with that, a practice – of the democratic project.
Chaired by Ann Demeester (Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem) and Ruud Nederveen (VVD), Ron Meyer Ron Meyer has led the largest party in Heerlen, the Socialist Party (SP), for the past eight years. Besides his work as a party leader, he works as a campaign leader for the labour union FNV Bondgenoten, where he has had a leading role in the cleaners’ protests since 2009. Brave cleaners who rise up for a better future are for him “the example of strength and progress.” In March 2014 Meyer received the Best Council Member Award in the Netherlands. go to propositionDemocratising the Arts (SP) and artist Matthijs de BruijneMatthijs de Bruijne‘s artistic practice and research often arise in collaboration with trade unions and other labor organisations. De Bruijne was closely involved in the cleaners’ strike of 2012 for better wages, working conditions and social recognition. This strike was the longest strike in the Netherlands since 1933. As part of the cleaners union’s campaign De Bruijne installed a temporary Rubbish Museum in Utrecht’s central station and produced, in collaboration with the Domestic Workers Netherlands, several shadow plays. (www.bruijne.org)go to propositionDemocratising the Arts will present jointly developed proposals on the role of art in relation to cultural representation; Salima BelhajSalima Belhaj is a council member of Rotterdam since 2008 and since 2010 she is party leader of D66 [Democrats '66] in that city. As such she takes an active role in the debate on racism and the debate on culture. In 2011 she participated in the first edition of the project Allegories of Good and Bad Government in W139, Amsterdam. In 2014 she had a decisive role in the coalition debates that led to the formation of the local government of the city of Rotterdam consisting of members of the political parties D66, Leefbaar Rotterdam [Livable Rotterdam] and the Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA).go to propositionPlea for a Free Zone (D66) and Maartje Remmers of theater collective WunderbaumMaartje Remmers is a Dutch actress and member of the Flemish-Dutch theater collective Wunderbaum consisting of herself, Walter Bart, Wine Dierickx, Matijs Jansen, Maarten van Otterdijk and Marleen Scholte. In 2013 Wunderbaum initiated the four-year project The New Forest in which Wunderbaum explores together with civil society organizations alternative models of democracy through theater. (www.thenewforest.nl)go to propositionPlea for a Free Zone will present on the role of art in relation to democratic reform; Dirk Poot (Pirate Party)Dirk Poot has been a spokesperson for the Dutch Pirate Party since 2012. In 2010 the party actively partook in the Dutch parliamentary elections for the first time. Poot was a candidate for parliament at the 2010 elections. The Pirate Party supports a free Internet as a condition for an open and democratic society, as a source of inspiration and knowledge, and above all as a source of critical information. Dirk Poot is also self-employed as an ICT consultant and PHP/MySQL programmer for medical applications.go to propositionMapping the Deep State and design collective FoundlandFoundland is an art and design practice based in Amsterdam; it was founded in 2009 by Ghalia Elsrakbi and Lauren Alexander. With backgrounds in graphic design, art and writing Foundland’s approach focuses on research based, critical responses to current issues. In their practice Foundland draws on unexpected connections, creating alternative narratives to media, reporting through innovative image making and personal interpretation. (www.foundland.info)go to propositionMapping the Deep State (Ghalia Elsrakbi and Lauren Alexander) will present on the role of art in relation to transparency; Yoonis Osman NuurYoonis Osman Nuur is spokesperson of the refugee collective We Are Here and member of the refugee council of the foundation Here to Support. As a human rights activist and politician, Nuur fights for the visibility and recognition of refugees in limbo in Dutch society and law. (http://wijzijnhier.org)go to propositionPolitical Representation Beyond Citizenship (We Are Here) and artist Ahmet ÖğütAhmet Öğüt is a conceptual artist based in Amsterdam and Istanbul. Öğüt is the initiator of The Silent University, an autonomous knowledge-exchange platform led by refugees for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. The Silent University aims to make apparent the systematic failure and the loss of knowledge and skills experienced through the silencing process of people seeking asylum. (www.silentuniversity.org)go to propositionPolitical Representation Beyond Citizenship will present on the role of art in relation to immigration; Carolien GehrelsCarolien Gehrels has been an alderman for the Labor Party (PvdA) in Amsterdam from 2006 to May 2014. In her eight years as an alderman, she was responsible for, among others, economic affairs and art and culture. In 2009 she gave the well-known Boekman lecture "Kunstbeleid in een postideologische? samenleving" [Art policy in a post-ideological? society], in which she pleaded for a larger involvement of politics with the arts. At the time she stated this about art: "We may also govern in this area. We may also have an opinion. And we may even judge.” ( www.pvdaamsterdam.nl)go to propositionThe Creative City: A Blessing for Administration but a Curse for the Arts (PvdA) and artist Hans van HouwelingenHans van Houwelingen studied at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. His work manifests itself internationally in the form of interventions in public space, exhibitions, lectures and publications, in which he investigates the relations between art, politics and ideology. He publishes regularly in newspapers and magazines. The monograph STIFF Hans van Houwelingen vs. Public Art (2004) offers an overview of his projects and texts and an extensive reflection on his work. The publication Update (2008) describes the permanent update of the Lorentzmonument in Arnhem during the exhibition Sonsbeek 2008 and Undone (2011) presents nine critical reflections on three recent works. (http://www.hansvanhouwelingen.nl)go to propositionThe Creative City: A Blessing for Administration but a Curse for the Arts will present on the role of art in relation to urban development and Mariko PetersMariko Peters was Member of Parliament for GroenLinks [Green Party] in the Netherlands from November 2006 until September 2012. Prior to this, she worked as an attorney, and, as a diplomat. She co-authored the first Freedom of Information Act in the Balkan countries and served as Advisor to the Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs. As a Member of Parliament her dossiers included Foreign Affairs, Defence, Public Administration, Media Culture & Copyrights. She now serves again with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.go to propositionTowards an Extra-Parliamentary Democracy! (GroenLinks), design collective Metahaven Metahaven is a studio for design and research based in Amsterdam, founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Metahaven's work—both commissioned and self-directed—reflects political and social issues in graphic design objects and media. The group’s 2010 publication Uncorporate Identity investigated what the International Herald Tribune called the “purpose and value of design in a neurotic and treacherous era of geopolitical instability.” Metahaven’s projects include Black Transparency, a multi-year investigation into the relationship between transparency and secrecy that resulted in a series of exhibitions, talks and a forthcoming book. As part of this project, Metahaven designed a set of merchandise for WikiLeaks—scarves and shirts—which were sold by the organization to circumvent a financial blockade which had denied the organisation the ability to receive donations by other means. Metahaven is affiliated with the Center for Design and Geopolitics at University of California, San Diego. Its founders teach at ArtEZ Academy of Arts in Arnhem, at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, and at Yale University's MFA program in graphic design.(www.metahaven.net) go to propositionTowards an Extra-Parliamentary Democracy! and artist Jonas StaalJonas Staal is a visual artist whose work deals with the relation between art, propaganda and democracy. He is the founder of the artistic and political organisation New World Summit (www.newworldsummit.eu). Staal is currently working on his PhD “Art and Propaganda in the 21st Century” at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. (www.jonasstaal.nl) go to propositionTowards an Extra-Parliamentary Democracy! will present on the role of art in relation to extra-parliamentary democracy.
The proposals will be discussed by, among others, Tiers Bakker (SP); Manuel Beltrán (artist, student organizer), Jeroen Boomgaard (Lectoraat Art & Public Space, Gerrit Rietveld Academy), Lex ter Braak (Jan van Eyck Academy), Hendrik Folkerts (Stedelijk Museum), Quinsy Gario (poet, artist), Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (philosopher), Rik Grashoff (GroenLinks), Nicoline van Harskamp (artist), Maria Hlavajova (BAK, Utrecht), Guusje ter Horst (PvdA), Femke Kaulingfreks (philosopher, We Are Here Academy), Erica van Lente (PvdA), Jacques Monasch (PvdA), Merijn Oudenampsen (sociologist), Marco Out (VVD), Rune Peitersen (Platform BK), Bastiaan Rijpkema (rechtsfilosoof), Anna Tilroe (art critic and curator), Romana Vrede (theater maker), Brenno de Winter (journalist), Dilan Yesilgoz (VVD), Hans de Zwart (Bits of Freedom) and others.
We, Dirk Poot (Pirate Party, the Netherlands) and design collective Foundland (Lauren Alexander and Ghalia Elsrakbi), have joined in the following three propositions:
1. Political Acknowledgement of the Deep State
The Deep State, otherwise known as the “State within the State”, refers to those activities of political forces that take place outside of public, civil control. The Deep State consists of dangerous entanglements of states and corporations for whose actions the state cannot take responsibility, thus not only mixing public interests with private, corporate interests but in essence rendering democracy powerless. The operations of secret services, such as: the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States (to which the secret services of the Netherlands provide data as well) are financed through so-called “black budgets”, which remain undisclosed, even to political representatives; social media such as Facebook hand over private data to corporations and secret services; mercenary organisations have built multi-billion dollar empires by waging wars on behalf of states without rules, oversight or accountability; the European Union (EU) has outsourced its border security to a myriad of mercenary armies and public-private partnership; and the EU finances weaponised drone development as well as civil surveillance systems under the name of “research” thereby subsidizing technologies without parliamentary discussion on military spending. Society needs to acknowledge the fact that the realm of power today is situated between the spheres of politics and corporations: the realm of the “modern deep state”.
2. Extrapolating the Deep State
If the Deep State, this being the entanglement between corporate and state interests outside of public control, is increasingly defining our world, then it is a political responsibility to make its structures, interests and effects visible: to, in fact, make the Deep State visible. In essence this means extrapolating the effects of the Deep State, to extend understanding of its existence and its impact. This should be initiated by a coalition of progressive political forces and creative forces that can make the structure of the Deep State visible and help to imagine a different politics, a politics that is part of — and controllable by — the public sphere. We thus propose to imagine the Deep State both through this resolution as well as through a dystopian storytelling of what our future might look like if we do not put a halt to the increasing power of the Deep State, hoping to spread awareness of the strengthening foothold of corporate interference and its consequences in our daily life in Europe and beyond.
3. Questioning the Deep State
Transparency, accountability and a delicate power balance between state and citizens form the foundation of democracy. We must question whether the emergent structure of the Deep State is compatible with our democratic principles. If deemed an undesirable situation, we must question if and how this unaccountable power can be brought back within the realm of democratic structures and if any democratic principles have failed or have been circumvented. We must also question if the existence of so-called “revolving doors” between politics and corporations have been instrumental in this shift of power towards public-private partnerships. We must furthermore question whether the public’s interests are truly served and protected with the growing acceptance of lobbyists as preferred partners in the drafting of law and international treaties.
De Deep State, ook wel bekend als de ‘staat binnen de staat,’ refereert naar die activiteiten van politieke autoriteiten die plaatsvinden buiten het domein van publieke, democratische controle. De deep state leidt tot gevaarlijke verstrengelingen van overheden met bedrijven, voor wiens handelen de staat geen verantwoordelijkheid kan nemen. Als zodanig vindt er niet alleen een verstrengeling van publieke met private belangen plaats maar wordt de democratie effectief buiten spel geplaatst.
De activiteiten van geheime diensten, zoals de National Security Agency (NSA) in de Verenigde Staten (waaraan de Nederlandse geheime diensten ook data leveren) worden gefinancierd door zogenaamde ‘black budgets:’ budgeten die volledig onbekend blijven, zelfs voor politieke vertegenwoordigers; Sociale media zoals Facebook overhandigen privégegevens aan zowel bedrijven als aan geheime diensten; Huurlingenorganisaties zetten miljarden om door oorlogen te voeren zonder rekening te hoeven houden met wetten, toezicht of aansprakelijkheid; De Europese Unie heeft op gelijkaardige manier de grensbewaking uitbesteed aan een myriade van publiek-private samenwerkingsverbanden van gewapende eenheden; De Europese Unie financiert de ontwikkeling van gewapende drones en surveillance systemen onder de noemer ‘onderzoek,’ en investeert daarmee feitelijk in wapensystemen zonder dat daar een parlementair of publiek debat over plaats vindt. De maatschappij zal moeten erkennen dat de hedendaagse macht gesitueerd is tussen de domeinen van de politiek en de bedrijfswereld in: het gebied van de moderne Deep State.
Als de deep state, de verstrengeling van corporatieve belangen en overheidsbelangen die zich onttrekt aan publieke controle, in toenemende mate onze wereld definieert, dan is het een politieke verantwoordelijkheid om de structuren, belangen en effecten hiervan zichtbaar te maken: in feite om de deep state zichtbaar te maken. Dit betekent in essentie het extrapoleren van de effecten van de deep state, het verbreden van ons begrip van het bestaan ervan en de invloed die het heeft op onze levens. Dit zal moeten gebeuren aan de hand van een samenwerking tussen progressieve politieke bewegingen en partijen en culturele organisaties en bewegingen die de structuur van de deep state zichtbaar kunnen maken en een politiek kunnen verbeelden die deel is van – en controleerbaar door – het publieke domein. We stellen zodoende voor de deep state te verbeelden, zowel middels deze motie, als door een dystopische narratief van hoe onze toekomst eruit zou kunnen zien wanneer we geen halt toeroepen aan de uitbreidende macht van de deep state, in de hoop bewustzijn te creëren over de groeiende invloed en positie van private partijen en de consequenties hiervan op ons dagelijks leven in Europa en daarbuiten.
Transparantie, aansprakelijkheid, en een delicate machtsbalans tussen de staat en burgers vormen het fundament van democratie. We moeten ons afvragen of de ontstane structuur van de deep state verenigbaar is met onze demoratische principes. Wanneer de huidige positie van de deep state niet wenselijk is moeten we nagaan of en hoe deze macht die zich niet aansprakelijk laat houden door middel van democratische structuren weer onderdeel gemaakt kan worden van publiek debat en kritische en democratische controle, en of onze democratische principes gefaald hebben, dan wel omzeild zijn. Tevens moeten wij ons afvragen of het bestaan van zogenaamde ‘draaideuren’ tussen de politiek en het bedrijfsleven hebben bijgedragen aan de huidige situatie en of publieke belangen werkelijk gediend zijn bij een groeiende acceptatie van lobbyisten in het politieke domein waarin wetten en verdragen worden opgesteld.