Fortuynately, the dangers of disabling individual’s perception of alternatives with insufficient education and reductionist language, became apparent in the outcome of the recent municipal elections. The simplification of the public’s fear to one-liners and slogans dismissed decades of neo-liberal governing dominated by multi-party coalitions and too many "bland compromises". The Dutch multitude, internationally renown for being the people most satisfied with the performance of its government, was sufficiently hijacked by a xenophobic politic, a view heavily proliferated through understanding/manipulation of the media. Rotterdam may soon be confronted by a new identity perhaps even more pervasive than "City of Architecture."

Back in January 2002, the city issued new rules hindering demonstrations perhaps in response to various veiligheid issues (Rotterdam Moordstad etc.). This development, exaggerated with the recent, illuminates some questions regarding "demonstration" in the fullest sense of the word:

Where are the platforms for public debate to host discussions of alternate points of view? Where are the voices of disagreement expressed, whether physical locations or media-based com-munication? What is the role/position of art and architecture regarding commentary on socio-political developments in the city of Rotterdam?

7:51 PM. —Restate our assumptions: Art, whether media or traditional, and architecture are inherently political.

"Every art is senseless until it becomes a weapon in the political arena." —Georg Grosz: 1920

The critical reflections of artists are important contributions to the examination of democratic and socio-political implications of society. In Rotterdam, the reduced phraseology from the author[itie]s requires comment and contrast with differentiating articulation but the artistic community seems crippled in the expression of it. With little experience in positioning themselves relevantly in the political arena, artists have been negotiated (since the heyday of the 80’s?) into submissive ex-squats, a network of synthetically-created implants, content with subsidies and the sterile "tenting" provided by galleries. In the current discussions of art for public space, the CBK must overcome sculptural cliches of gracious requests to fill the 1% leftover space in city developments. Other autonomous (artistic-cultural) platforms, such as the Poortgebouw or WORM, whose stories are threatened to be overwritten by the City of Architecture, struggle to mediate their art in the public sphere despite an impending fate of eviction or sloop.

The Institute for Unstable Media, V2, has the opportunity to bring together artistic forms of ex-pression with digital media entailing an essential challenge to cultural policy. Neo-liberal stand-points that view the connection between new technologies and art as faster and more efficient ways to bring up art to free-market economy ignore socio-cultural correlations4. The V2 does facilitate architectural criticism (TransUrbanism) and disrupted the hierarchical notions for the Las Palmas, but could their otherwise internalised infogolem, which renders outsiders deaf to their message, be transformed into an artistic potency in the public sphere?

"Das umfassendste Kunstwerk ist die Architektur. Sie umfasst alle Kunstarten. MERZ will nicht bauen, MERZ will umbauen. DIE AUFGABE VON MERZ IN DER WELT IST: GEGENSAETZE AUSGLEICHEN UND SCHWERPUNKTE VERTEILEN." —Kurt Schwitters, MERZ:1923

On the other hand, professional architects are still too classical in their knowledge and tied to hierarchies of authority. They have done little more than offer dynamic cliches of the market-oriented government objectives, stacking the pre-programmed and replicating the system: sameness disguised as diversity5. The necessary Maasochism of the architectural profession, a rank further down in the top-down, does not legitimate architects to question the authoring of the city. In the almost cliche example of MVRDV, the popular whipping boy of Rem Koolhaas and Roemer van Toorn, who seemingly have wrote their identity to best fulfill the policy objectives of the (past) neo-liberal government, one must ask what becomes of their "claim to diversity" and Winy Maas’ "Double Dutch" studio in the Berlage Institute when the new (anti-diversity) politic recommends sealing the borders since "...16 million Dutchmen are enough - this is a full country6."

Architectural criticism seems regulated to the experimental confines of Berlage Institute ("Rewriting the City") or the publications and exhibitions of the NAI. Even though Rem Koolhaas’ OMA created a mirror identity AMO to address what the profession inhibits, the harvest can only be reaped by those daring enough to cross the architectural borderline to the exclusive temples of the architecture scene.

"Na denk ik dat het interessant is om meer naar politieke systemen te kijken. En ingrepen proberen te doen in een nieuwe koppeling tussen architectuur en politiek." —Rem Koolhaas: Volkskrant Interview Nov. 2001

10:32 AM SUSPICION: the problem might lay in the word POLITICS. Evolving with the legacy of democracy and its representative institutions and policies, is a disinterest and a distancing from the word that in essence has everything to do with the construction of reality. It is a hollow image of suits and bureaucracy in places where you just do not want to go and which, understandably, creative professions would love to do without. We have simply forgotten what it means.

In the present singular screenplay of the City of Architecture, there is a multitude of stagesets, from skyscrapers to port machinery, from backrooms of shoarma shops to darkrooms of SM clubs, but a reduced cast of characters performing. Rotterdam must strengthen a cultural climate, perhaps even more so post-March 6, with a supporting cast informed by public discussion and the demon-stration of other authors addressing individual concerns and responsibilities in socio-political developments. When artistic and architectural institutions with their composite individuals don’t take a stand, positioning themselves as political barometers and seismographs, Rotterdam runs the risk of (inter)nationally losing its credibility as a City of Architecture.

Interfecting from the vocabulary of the City of Architecture, INNBETWEEN edits this reduction of meaning to inflatable surrogate gods, impregnating dynamic cliches with other meanings. This source code can inform artistic interpretations in an attempt to reveal the other possible realities in cities, forgotten truths or absurd imaginations dormant in the shadows of words. In a process-oriented collaboration with the government and collaborations with other involved institutions and individuals, we wish to create an unbiased stage for etymological reconstruction, where liberation can occur within the cliche. This emancipation can not come from further utopian dialogue or outdated forms of protest but through the meaningful interpretation and fantastic dramatization of the inherent subjective value these words have to individuals. We believe the key to a creative overlapping language bridging the gap between art, architecture and politics resides in Rotterdam’s constant reconstruction complex.

 

 

4 http://kunst.government-austria.at

5. Roemer van Toorn: Rewriting the City

6. Pim Fortuyn: Volkskrant Interview