Replica of one of the cells, recreated through Laurencic’s descriptions.
In the course of an interesting essay on non-representational (Modernist) art, Marxist clown philosopher Slavoj Žižek notes that both Fascist and Communist critics regarded entartete Kunst as barbarous and inimical to civilization.
During the Spanish Civil War, in fact, he reporta that one leftist artiste deliberately used Modern Art to inflict suffering on enemy prisoners, in a manner quite similar to the way US Forces in 1989 attempted to drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of his refuge in the Vatican Embassy by bombarding the building with loud Heavy Metal rock music.
In 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the French poet, artist, and architect of Slovene origins Alphonse Laurencic relied on Kandinsky’s theories of color and form to decorate cells at a prison in Barcelona where Republicans held captured Francoists. He designed each cell like an avant-garde art installation, so that the compositions of color and form inside the cells were chosen with the goal of causing the prisoners to experience disorientation, depression, and deep sadness:
“During the trial Laurencic revealed he was inspired by modern artists, such as surrealist Salvador Dali and Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky, to create the torture cells /…/ Laurencic told the court the cells, in Barcelona, featured sloping beds at a 20-degree angle that were almost impossible to sleep on.
They also had irregularly shaped bricks on the floor that prevented prisoners from walking backwards or forwards, the trial papers said. The walls in the 6ft x 3ft cells were covered in surrealist patterns designed to make prisoners distressed and confused, the report continued, and lighting effects were used to make the artwork even more dizzying. Some of them had a stone seat designed to make occupants instantly slide to the floor, while other cells were painted in tar and became stiflingly hot in the summer.”
Indeed, later the prisoners held in these so-called “psychotechnic” cells did report extreme negative moods and psychological suffering due to their visual environment. Here, the mood becomes the message—the message that coincides with the medium. The power of this message is shown in Himmler’s reaction to the cells: he visited the psychotechnic cells after Barcelona was taken by the fascists and said that the cells showed the “cruelty of Communism.” They looked like Bauhaus installations and, thus, Himmler understood them as a manifestation of Kulturbolschevismus (cultural Bolshevism). No wonder Laurencic was put on trial and executed in 1939.
Cover of R.L. Chacón, Por que hice las ‘Chekas’ de Barcelona: Laurencic ante el Consejo de Guerra, 1939.
A typical exhibition of contemporary art at the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark.
“‘Charles,’ said Cordelia, ‘Modern Art is all bosh, isn’t it?’
–Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, 1945.
Representatives of the international credentialed elite are in the natural order of things in charge of our cultural institutions. They are responsible for the custodianship and ongoing cultivation of the artistic heritage of our civilization.
John Ruskin observed: “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”
What does the above exhibition say about Denmark and Western Civilization in the current period?
This sort of thing, which we see everywhere all the time, is very much like a real world dramatization of the old fairy tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. All the experts happily participate in the outrageous fraud simply because not one of them is courageous enough to defy the general consensus and speak the truth.
Consequently, it is impossible not to applaud the enterprising effrontery of “artist” Jens Haaning and the discomfiture of the Kunsten Museum.
A Danish museum lent an artist $84,000 for his work. He kept the cash and named the art ‘Take the Money and Run.’
When the staff at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in northern Denmark opened boxes last week from artist Jens Haaning, they expected to see pieces featuring the half-million kroner they lent him for the works of art, the director told a Danish radio show host.
Instead, the museum — which had commissioned Haaning to re-create two of his older pieces that were made with cash — found two empty frames.
The new name for the artwork: “Take the Money and Run.”
Now, the museum in Aalborg, Denmark, is accusing him of breaking their legal agreement and demanding the artist return the 534,000 kroner, the equivalent of over $84,000.
“The work is that I have taken their money,” Haaning said in an interview with Danish radio show “P1 Morgen.”
The 56-year-old resident of Copenhagen gained popularity in the 1990s. He is known for using art as commentary on money, power and marginalized groups, according to the Faurschou Foundation, a Copenhagen-based art museum.
Haaning’s pieces were meant to be part of a new exhibition at the Kunsten Museum about the labor market entitled “Work It Out.” Running from through Jan. 16, the exhibit features new and existing works from about 20 artists and occupies the majority of the museum.
The museum asked Haaning to re-create his works from 2007 and 2010, which were visual representations of the average annual income for Austrians and Danes, respectively, by displaying the sum in bills affixed to a canvas.
The museum paid him 25,000 kroner — about $3,900 — Haaning told “P1 Morgen,” in addition to fronting the money that would be displayed in the two pieces. But when he realized it would cost him 25,000 kroner alone to fund the project, he decided to change his plans.
“Why do I not make a work that is about my own work situation?” he said.
He said he believes the new artworks are an apt representation of the museum’s exhibit and encourages others to reexamine their work conditions.
Lasse Andersson, the museum director, agrees that Haaning’s work is appropriate for collection but stipulated that his decision to take the money for himself violates their legal agreement.
“I want to give Jens absolutely the right that a work has been created in its own right, which actually comments on the exhibition we have,” Andersson told “P1 Morgen.” “But that is not the agreement we had.”
But Haaning is standing strong, noting that his decision is what makes the empty frames works of art.
“It’s not theft,” Haaning said. “It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”
“Jens Haaning (b. 1965) has from the outset of his artistic career been politically engaged. Back in the 1990s he was one of those who turned the focus on outsiders in Danish society. Many of his works take their starting point in marginalized groups, and through these he investigates intolerance and the condition of being alien or different. Haaning works with the meanings inherent in our language and the way we communicate visually, and he often makes use of a simple but precise device to deal with complex situations. His works range from the visibly political as in ‘Weapon production’ (1995) to the more minimalistic, site-specific exchanging of light bulbs between a street in Kassel and one in Hanoi, ‘Kassel-Hanoi (Light bulb exchange)’ (2002). ‘Danmark, Denmark’ (2005) consists of the text “Denmark” written in large black capitals on the wall of the gallery. The first time the work was exhibited in Denmark in 2005, it aroused a sensation because the Danish political debate at the time was coloured by strong resistance to giving residence permits to immigrants and refugees in Denmark. Haaning’s work gets to grips with this debate, turning the focus, black on white, on concepts like nationalism and the fear of the foreign.”
Cockburn thinks he has found the key explanation: Western elites let Afghans see what Western elite culture is like. Naturally, and inevitably, they took down their AK-47s from the wall and fought tooth and nail to prevent being assimilated into that!
[A]longside the billions for bombs went hundreds of millions for gender studies in Afghanistan. According to U.S. government reports, $787 million was spent on gender programs in Afghanistan, but that substantially understates the actual total, since gender goals were folded into practically every undertaking America made in the country.
A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) broke down the difficulties of the project. For starters, in both Dari and Pastho there are no words for “gender.” That makes sense, since the distinction between “sex” and “gender” was only invented by a sexually-abusive child psychiatrist in the 1960s, but evidently Americans were caught off-guard. Things didn’t improve from there. Under the US’s guidance, Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution set a 27 per cent quota for women in the lower house — higher than the actual figure in America! A strategy that sometimes required having women represent provinces they had never actually been to. Remarkably, this experiment in “democracy” created a government few were willing to fight for, let alone die for.
The initiatives piled up one after another. Do-gooders established a “National Masculinity Alliance”, so a few hundred Afghan men could talk about their “gender roles” and “examine male attitudes that are harmful to women.”
Police facilities included childcare facilities for working mothers, as though Afghanistan’s medieval culture had the same needs as 1980s Minneapolis. The army set a goal of 10 percent female participation, which might make sense in a Marvel movie, but didn’t to devout Muslims. Even as America built an Afghan army ended up collapsing in days, and a police force whose members frequently became highwaymen, it always made sure to execute its gender goals.
But all this wasn’t just a stupid waste of money. It routinely actively undermined the “nation building” that America was supposed to be doing. According to an USAID observer, the gender ideology included in American aid routinely caused rebellions out in the provinces, directly causing the instability America was supposedly fighting. To get Afghanistan’s parliament to endorse the women’s rights measures it wanted, America resorted to bribing them. Soon, bribery became the norm for getting anything done in the parliament.
But instead of rattling off anecdotes, perhaps a single video clip will do the job. Dadaism and conceptual art are of dubious value even in the West, but at some point some person who is not in prison for fraud decided that Afghan women would be uplifted by teaching them about Marcel Duchamp. (See above)
Miriam Elia successfully raised Â£4,998 on Kickstarter to fund publication of her “We Go to the Gallery,” an amusing satire on Modern Art in the form of the mid-last-century British Ladybird series of children’s books.
“‘Charles,’ said Cordelia, ‘Modern Art is all bosh, isn’t it?’
—Brideshead Revisited, (1945) Book 2, Chapter 1.
The Brisbane Times was one of many international newspapers chuckling over an Italian cleaning woman’s natural mistake.
A cleaner at an Italian art gallery has thrown away contemporary artworks valued at $15,000, after mistaking them for a pile of rubbish.
The unnamed cleaner swept up the paper, cardboard and pieces of broken biscuit that had been scattered on the floor of the gallery in the southern town of Bari.
The boss of the cleaning firm said the woman was â€œjust doing her jobâ€ and that the companyâ€™s insurers would pick up the bill for the damage to the works, which included pieces by Italian artist Nicola Gobbetto and David Jablonowski from Germany. …
â€œIt is clear the cleaning person did not realise she has thrown away two artworks and their value,â€ he told local press.
The cleanerâ€™s mistake is just the latest in a series of incidents in which museum staff have confused modern art with rubbish.
In 2001, a cleaner at a west London gallery binned a pile of used ashtrays, newspapers and dirty beer bottles, not realising it was a work by notorious British artist Damien Hirst.
Hirst had arranged the junk the previous night at a launch party in a spontaneous installation.
“I didn’t think for a second that it was a work of art – it didn’t look much like art to me,â€ cleaner Emmanuel Asare reportedly said at the time. â€œSo I cleared it all into bin bags and dumped it.”
In 1999 an installation by Tracey Emin composed of an unmade bed, used condoms and underwear was ruined after museum attendants tidied it up, believing it to have been vandalised.
And a similarly over-zealous cleaner wrecked an installation called Untitled (Bathtub) by German artist Josef Beuys in 1986. The piece, displayed in Dusseldorf, consisted of a dirty bathtub, which the museum worker scrubbed clean.