The thesis i wrote at the end of art school surfaced a few weeks ago. It has been lying on my desk since then. Sometimes i pick it up and browse through it. De Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. The New Professionalism. It’s main subject are the strategies used by several artists to deal with the continuous stream of criticism written by professional critics who try to fit the new art in the approved history of modern art. Jeff Koons, Gran Fury and the Guerilla Girls are the artists discussed.
Paradoxically, nothing more clearly reveals the logic of the functioning of the artistic field than the fate of these apparently radical attempts at subversion. Because they expose the art of the artistic creation to a mockery already annexed to the artistic tradition by Duchamp, they are immediately converted into artistic ‘acts’, recorded as such and thus consecrated and celebrated by the makers of taste. Art cannot reveal the truth about art without snatching it away again by turning the revelation in an artistic event.
Source: The end of art theory, Victor Burgin, 1986
The introduction gives a global overview of the development of art in the twentieth century. In Western Europe art used to make visual creations made in assignments by the church, royalty and merchant organizations and families. Photography, film and graphic design have taken over these functions of art. Art has settled in its diminished field of use and stated that its core feature is an essential lack of usefulness and applicability.
I have written my thesis in 1991. Reading it back, it feels like there hasn’t changed that much. Of course, some things did. There is the internet. Digital photography. Wars. New young music artists. New writers. New television shows. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat.
But change? Real, profound change? I’m not so sure.
I started a job in September 1994. I thought about it for a weekend. Things weren’t going that well. I didn’t like the art world in Rotterdam. I didn’t like the talking and mingling. In that weekend i knew i was going for something new, something i didn’t know the end of. I said yes to the job.
After five years i was exhausted and decided to leave. I did get another job. By that time i was making work online. Started 1 July 1997, now twenty years ago. I love the immediacy of the medium. I love the techniques. Gifanimations. Photos. Little games. Flash! I loved it!
At some point i stopped getting inspired. Things weren’t going that well. I withdrew. I started playing World of Warcraft. I didn’t see any of my old friends for eight years or so. Towards the end i did see some eventually. A bit.
For two and three quarter years i have been working again, since October 2014. To me, it has been the greatest gift i could have ever given myself. I still remember sitting in the train going to the center of the Netherlands, looking around me at all the people sitting there, busy with their smartphones, reading a book or staring at the fields passing by outside. Sometimes a conversation started. Jaap with his Rubik’s Cube.
Now i’m here. Sitting in front of my computer, typing these words. Sounds from the outside drift in. A moped. Cars. The tram. People talking, making sounds. It is clouded. Summer.
I kept on learning my entire life. I finally found the courage to do things i had only dreamed of before. Giving away my drawings to Green Gartside is one of those things. Something i feel so happy with. It is hard to believe. But my life is not a stop or go story. Even the years i didn’t work, i was still learning. The years i tried, i failed, i stopped, i cried, all those years are special to me. This is my life.
This doesn’t make it more important to you. You, my dear reader. Each and everyone of us lives his or her own life. To each and everyone of us our experiences make our own life, our experiences are what shapes our believes, our hopes, our despairs. It is very difficult for each and everyone of us to make a link to someone else and share our believes, our hopes, our despairs.
This is art.
The photos with this post are artists. World famous artists. At the start of this post there is a famous work by Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007. I truly admire this work. I truly admire Ai Weiwei. I’m a bit more apprehensive about Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. But i do think their work says a lot about the world we live in today. Their work is important.
This website, ellenpronk.com, is this art?
My website, ellenpronk.com, is not a commodity. It only exists because i keep on working on it. Making a post five times a week. The work is hard to sell. It is hard to exhibit in a museum or art gallery.
To me, that doesn’t matter. What i want to do is to show you photos i made, photos i found, talk to you about the garden, about thoughts i have about the world. I don’t need to exhibit this work anywhere. It is already out there. Ready for you to visit.
This is my work. I don’t care what other people think. This is my work. It takes all my time. And i am not letting it go.
I do hope you will find something here which interests you. Something to lighten up your day. Something to make you smile. Something to make you think.
And yes, to me, this website, this blog, this is art.