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Henri's reports on his recent activities

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woensdag 10 augustus 2011

Homage to Foucault

Homage to Foucault, mixed media (c. 40 x 30 cm)

In the N e t h e r l a n d s, we have already since the 1990s the imperative from the administration and supported by the parliament, that artists should concentrate on cultural entrepreneurship. More than before, our present government expands this concept also to cultural institutions like e.g. museums and orchestras.

This may worry us deeply. The economic model may apply to economic activities, but I have reasons to reject this concept when related to the cultural sphere. If artists want to be executives, if institutions prefer to be operated as businesses then it would not concern me. However, it is obvious for those who can see, that they are manipulated to move in that direction.

Business-person is one of the roles (Gestalt) an artist may assume. However, it may be more urgent for him or her to be a priest, a teacher, a prophet, a nurse, a doctor, a clown or a hermit. An artist may also be an artists’ artist, an inspiration to his fellow travellers and colleagues, unnoticed by the audience at large.

We need all these types of artist, and let us not be fooled by the concept that art from an entrepreneurial practice is the only real art with quality.

I feel there is this ongoing process of modelling the arts and the artists into the mould of publicly accepted values, economic orientation and success being at the core of them. It is Michel Foucault (1926-1984) who made us aware of the processes in which humans, their behaviour and expectations are all subject to normalisation. Still, artists are not businessmen by nature, and they need not to comply. They can refuse.

All this occupied me, when I painted this homage to Foucault. It is based on the famous photograph made in Berlin in the late 1970s.

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