Waiting for modernity to arrive,….
June 19th, 2011 by Remco de Blaaij
As a student I was always joking with my colleagues that as an artist you have to wait a lot during your time of work. If not waiting for the paint to dry, one has to wait until funding comes in or a project to be accepted. I can tell that curators, societies and institutions have to wait too in order for something to arrive, or to leave.
But what is it that arrives and is this not something that oneself initiates in the first place? I’m here in the academy in Ramallah waiting for our painting to arrive and rethinking why we are doing this in the first place and how to tie what I see happening around me to this event. Already this in itself signals for me the connection of the endeavor to a structure that is much more sensitive to its efforts beyond taking in account only itself through acknowledgement of its own excellence, contribution to art history and its value in the magical market. It seems therefore that more issues currently at stake in different geographies can relate to this trip of Picasso’s Buste de Femme. Who could have think that an old painting could navigate us through these issues? A ‘top talent’ of sixty years ago who proved itself to the market! Thus, it makes me think about the current aggressive cuts in the Netherlands on (cultural) life, rather than only budgets, the cut of people not being able to mobilise themselves through territories here, the cuts and the Arab Spring that let new trees grow in the streets of Ramallah? A modern sign?
So what is it that these forms of modernity tell us really? One of the things we are saying to ourselves is that we see modern society fail continuously and rapidly in Europe. Its arrogance, mainly understood in postcolonial terms, of putting forward excellence and prevailing over others that are definitely not modern, is perhaps one critique of these networks and the traces that they leave. But bringing a modern icon signals much more the decline of ‘embracing’ or social belief that the only strive to accept is the one to be modern. The ability of organising this is showing us an equal exchange between a society in decline and one that is rising at the same time. A balanced injection here in the case of bringing it, hopefully for once will not leave any damaging marks or scars, but will bring understanding of modernity itself and the fragile situation it is in. But, I don’t now in how many ways and if we can speak on modernity in decline, some say we never were modern in the first place. Let’s wait for the toptalent to arrive and see and hear how it will speak further,….