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, Yoonis Osman Nuur (representative of refugee collective We Are Here) and Ahmet Öğüt (initiator of The Silent University), have joined in following three propositions/demands:
1. Acknowledgement of We Are Here as an Undocumented Political Party
We Are Here is a collective of more than 225 undocumented migrants and refugees — a political entity — that fights for the acknowledgement of each of its members as citizens. We Are Here strives for the right to self-determination of each individual member, which means: the right to equal political representation, access to education, economic participation, healthcare and other social services. Currently, undocumented migrants in the Netherlands have no right to vote, no right to education and no right to perform labour — not even unpaid charity work. This effectively forces them outside of the domain of international human rights that demands equal acknowledgement of every human being, regardless of their background and their educational or economic status. Following this principle of universal equality we demand the acknowledgement of We Are Here as an undocumented political party and as the legitimate representative of its cause: striving for the acknowledgment of the peoples of this world, documented and undocumented alike.
2. Recognition of the We Are Here Academy and the Right to Education
In collaboration with Dutch academics, We Are Here has started the We Are Here Academy, which teaches undocumented migrants the political and juridical background of the Netherlands. As the struggle of undocumented migrants is largely administrative by nature, it is crucial to gain an understanding of the structures that define a person in the Netherlands either as existent — as a citizen — or as non-existent — as a non-citizen. The latter consists of what theorist Giorgio Agamben refers to as “bare life” (life without administrative, state protection). The We Are Here Academy acts upon the right to education as a universal right, in a coalition of documented and undocumented people. We ask universities, art institutions, labour unions, political parties and civil society to acknowledge and support the universal right to education, and to acknowledge that the financing and organising of the We Are Here Academy is a collective responsibility of society at large.
3. Recognition of The Silent University and the Right to Educate
In collaboration with art institutions, universities and migrant organisations, artist Ahmet Öğüt initiated The Silent University, in which (undocumented) migrants and refugees with an academic background are acknowledged as teachers. The Silent University has departments in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Germany, and has contributed to providing legitimacy to undocumented migrants. Furthermore, the Silent University has brought attention to the fact that former migrants who receive citizenship are often not acknowledged for their academic backgrounds. This leads to the destruction of knowledge and of what artist Joseph Beuys refers to as “creative capital”. We ask universities, art institutions, labour unions, political parties and civil society to acknowledge and support the right to educate, and to acknowledge the teachers of The Silent University as bearers of knowledge with equal importance to that of so-called native teachers and professors.
We Are Here is een collectief van meer dan 225 ongedocumenteerde migranten en vluchtelingen – een politieke entiteit – dat strijdt voor erkenning van al haar leden als burgers. We Are Here strijdt voor het recht op zelfbeschikking voor al haar leden, dat wil zeggen: voor het recht op gelijke politieke representatie, economische participatie en toegang tot educatie, zorg en andere sociale zekerheden. Momenteel hebben ongedocumenteerde migranten in Nederland geen recht om te stemmen, geen recht op educatie en geen recht te werken – zelfs niet wanneer dit onbetaald vrijwilligerswerk betreft. Dit plaatst hen effectief buiten het domein van internationale mensenrechten dat gelijke erkenning van elk mens eist, ongeacht zijn of haar achtergrond en educatieve of economische status. In navolging van dit principe van universele gelijkheid eisen wij de erkenning van We Are Here als ongedocumenteerde politieke partij en als legitieme vertegenwoordiger van haar doel: de strijd voor erkenning van alle mensen op deze wereld, zowel gedocumenteerd als ongedocumenteerd.
In samenwerking met Nederlandse academici is We Are Here gestart met de We Are Here Academy, dat ongedocumenteerde migranten educeert in de politieke en juridische achtergrond van Nederland. Gezien de strijd van ongedocumenteerde migranten voornamelijk administratief van aard is, is het essentieel om inzicht te krijgen van de structuren die een persoon in Nederland als bestaand – als een burger – of als niet bestaand – een niet-burger – definiëren. Dit laatste is wat de filosoof Giorgio Agamben omschrijft als ‘bare life,’ leven zonder administratieve staatsbescherming. We Are Here Academy handelt op basis van het recht op educatie als universeel recht, in een coalitie van gedocumenteerde en ongedocumenteerde mensen. Wij vragen universiteiten, kunstinstellingen, vakbonden, politieke partijen en maatschappelijke organisaties om het universele recht op educatie te erkennen en te steunen en te erkennen dat de financiering en organisatie van We Are Here Academy een collectieve verantwoordelijkheid van de Nederlandse maatschappij in zijn geheel is.
In samenwerking met kunstinstellingen, universiteiten en migrantenorganisaties heeft kunstenaar Ahmet Öğüt The Silent Univerisity geïnitieerd. The Silent University erkend (ongedocumenteerde) migranten en vluchtelingen met een academische achtergrond als docenten. The Silent University heeft vestigingen in Groot Brittannië, Frankrijk, Zweden en Duitsland en draagt bij aan de legitimiteit van ongedocumenteerde migranten. Wat de The Silent University tevens onder de aandacht brengt is dat migranten die burgerschap verkrijgen veelal niet erkend worden in hun academische achtergrond. Dit leidt tot de vernietiging van kennis en van wat door kunstenaar Joseph Beuys ‘creative capital‘ genoemd wordt. Wij vragen universiteiten, kunstinstellingen, vakbonden, politieke partijen en maatschappelijke organisaties het recht om te educeren te erkennen en te steunen en om de docenten van The Silent University te erkennen als deskundigen van gelijk belang.