241 Things

1000 Things is a subjective encyclopedia of inspirational ideas, things, people, and events.

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

Visual artist Jorge Sattore speaks about his project, National Balloon.

In 1971, Chris Burden performed a work in which he asked his friend to shoot him in the arm.

March 4th 1980. At a festival in Florence, Chris Burden performs another work, “Show the Hole.” True to these words, Burden shows his scarred arm to 300 art students, in sessions of one minute per person.

Jorge Sattore: “’Shoot,’ performed by Chris Burden 35 years ago has always fascinated me. But what’s fascinated me even more is how ‘Shoot’ was contextualised within the art world. The many stories, documentation, and articles have given the work a mass amount of attention. But the image of what happened at the moment of the performance keeps shifting. These filtered bits of information create a new image of the work within the viewer’s imagination, time and time again. Burden refers to these viewers in relationship to his work as, ‘the first and secondary audience.’ With this, he differentiates between the position of those viewers present during the actual performance and the viewers who only know the work through stories, images, or text.

My trip to LA began with the goal to break from my position as ‘secondary audience’ and to somehow become a first hand witness to ‘Shoot.’ In order to realise this, I wanted to meet with Chris in LA. It was tough. What I thought would be the most important moment of the project turned out to be a fruitless endeavour. Burden is tired of the attention the performance keeps getting.

Just as I had decided to pay a visit to his home my friend told me of a young couple who called at Burden’s door. As Burden opens the door, the visitor shoots his girlfriend in the arm. Throughout the years, many such incidents have occurred in which students and artists perform their own version of ‘Shoot,’ some of which match the violence of its original. For Burden, I’m just one of many. And each attempt to try to bring the matter up with him proves abortive. Even Burden’s friends are impossible to reach or refuse to co-operate.

I started looking for the location of the performance, exhibition space F-Space. Every contact with the institution became part of a lengthy bureaucratic procedure. They didn’t seem to understand my purpose, and why should they co-operate?

My stay in LA ended up consisting of endless hours driving through the city, brief encounters, short conversations, and visiting places. Without having realised it, all these moments became part of my experience of ‘Shoot.’ I was continuously confronted with the question of how I could contextualise the work within my own practice. When the goal to my trip established itself as unattainable, it was difficult to know whether all was lost within a grand failure, or if there was still sense to my endeavour,

My desire for the position of first viewer that I’d felt so strongly about had changed. The mystery had disappeared. The failure to meet Burden and the impossibility of making contact turned out to be prerequisites for allowing something new and unexpected to enter the stage. I understood that to truly err within this project would be to fail to acknowledge this.

I decided to, from memory, draw the experiences I encountered during this trip: a combination of situations, persons, conversations and locations. I let go of a linear representation of time and place, and let them fade to a setting in which impressions, fact, and stories crossed one another. This became my working method. In this fictional representation of reality I leave the viewer to fill the gaps in what I omit. In a way, this mechanism in ‘National Balloon’ is precisely what I attempted to dismantle in ‘Shoot.’

From Tamara Robeer's family archive

You can wake me up at any time of day to talk about sexuality, intimacy, and relationships. It’s like an addiction to sugar: take one bite and an urge for more continues to resonate within mind and body. As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by our humanity, our raw desire for intimacy and the many different ways in which this takes form.

After my father passed away, I found an entire archive of black and white negatives. Among the thousands of images of his travels through Eastern Europe were a few films of naked girls. As it turned out, my father photographed many unknown (to me) girls in the nude. Not only their bodily forms, but also with their legs spread open, without scruples. I had always thought my father to be incredibly prude, but it turned out nothing could be further from the truth.

From Tamara Robeer's family archive

I was even more delighted with my find when I stumbled across a few rolls of film depicting my 25 year old mother strutting around bare naked. Instead of feeling repelled by the idea of looking at my naked mother (even though she’s forty years younger,) I felt I was simply looking at a young couple in love. Two teenagers playing the game of sexuality before the lens of the camera.

My father’s photographs can be seen in a controversial light when one considers the context in which they were taken. A number of photos were made in my mother’s parental home in Bucharest, Romania in 1974. The country was still under the strict reign of Ceausescu’s communist regime. The other half of the photos were taken in my father’s bedroom, who at the time was living in a house joined to the grand church in The Hague’s city centre. Sexual intimacy linked with ideologies inherent to a communist regime, and naked photos made by two teenagers within the walls of a church, portray a clash with the pertaining social norms and values of the architectural spaces in which they were taken.

From Tamara Robeer's family archive

As soon as the combination of roles and context do not fit within our accepted contemporary social conventions, we cross a line whereby story and image are experienced as shocking. Much more so than when we are merely confronted with an explicit image of a sexual act. The friction lies within the story, not within the visuals. What happens if I release and discard all narrative, reduce it to insignificance? In the moment of making theses images, there are no narratives, judgements, or social conventions. In that moment, there is nothing but the sense of being human, of intimacy and connection.

Of course, I showed these photos to my mother. Her reaction was, ‘Oh god, what a bush of hair I had down there, but you know, that was in style back then’.

Back in the day, it was exciting enough to surf the Internet and just watch some porn, to send each other funny Youtube videos or to just read up on the most absurd articles about aliens. Presently, all of this is overshadowed: cats rule the Internet. Who needs porn when there are some cute cats to look at?

Youtube is overloaded with funny cats videos; Facebook is oversaturated with posts and photos of cats, as are 9gag and 4chan. Cats, cats, cats are everywhere. If you’re not into cats, you can forget about being popular on the Internet. Cat porn, or Catomania, is the newest and biggest trend in Internet culture.

I’m not the first and surely not the last to cover this topic. How is it that this viral phenomenon (or maybe even a 'viral' virus?) can attract so much attention? Around 2005 a phenomenon called LOLcats appeared on the Internet. It was all about funny cat pictures with some comically misspelled captions.

We can say it was the very beginning of an obsession with cats spanning the entire Internet. The very first website which was dedicated to LOLcats images was icanhas.cheezburger.com. It started as a joke between two friends and became viral. The hype spread so fast and so thoroughly that in 2007 projects like the LOLcat Bible appeared, in which the entire Bible is translated into LOLcat language. Why would someone find this entertaining enough to spend their time on?

Perhaps it’s because we’re always looking for easy distractions. Being an adult is one of the most difficult tasks in life: being responsible, working hard, trying to build relationships: all of this requires a lot of energy and brain work, so why we shouldn’t please ourselves and procrastinate while watching something both cute and funny, like, for example, LOLcats?

In 2008 digital thinker and MIT Center for Civic Media director, Ethan Zuckerman, raised a new theory on how cats (that were already occupying the internet) could disseminate revolutionary political content. It’s well known that all governments censor political information on the Internet, whether great or small- especially a country like China. It’s easy for them to block URL addresses, but that is not the case with keywords. This led to the idea to use cute pictures of cats as a tool for spreading revolutionary political content.Now this is where it becomes serious. Cats on the Internet no longer only serve for fun and entertainment, they have now become a powerful tool for spreading and hiding ideas from the government. It’s pure genius.

It might be the case that the cat hype spread over the Internet as fast as it did thanks to the many introverted people who spend large parts of their lives online. In 2013, research at Missouri University of Science and Technology proved that most of the people who spend the majority of their time online are introverted. This does make some sense. It can be easier to communicate online, which can make you feel more confident. And perhaps cats, too, appeal mostly to the introverted: there is no need to walk them and to enter the outside world.

So it might make sense that introverted cats owners who spend most of their time online have greatly helped to spread this cat culture over the web. Cats are our new pop stars. They have their own fan pages, twitter and Instagram accounts. Even mascots and t-shirts. It’s a new cat era. A cat with a sad facial expression named “grumpy cat” now has almost 7 million likes on Facebook. That means that 7 million people are united by going crazy over one cat that accidentally has a strange facial expression. A little shop in the center of The Hague even has a section with toys and souvenirs dedicated to this cat.

Chris Johansen

What do artists read? The following artists share their favourite books.

Chris Johanson
I don't have a favourite book but I do read.

Annette Messager
The dictionary.

Alexandra Leykauf
This is impossible to answer… but let's say Chris Ware: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth.

Ken Lum

Ken Lum
My favorite book is a children’s book that I actually reread a few years ago when I bought it again to read parts to my youngest niece: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Marcel van Eeden
Gerrit Achterberg, Ode aan Den Haag, De ballade van de gasfitter, Spel van de wilde jacht.

Annette Messager

Marlene Dumas
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

Gabriel Lester
Boris Vian, J 'irai cracher sur vos tombes (Ik zal op jullie graf spugen/I Shall Spit on Your Graves).

Chris Ware: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth

Kimberley Clark
How to Make Love Like a Pornostar by Jenna Jameson.

Alicia Framis
La Dislocation, Benoit Goetz.

Marcel van Eeden

Jamy Shovlinn
Everything from Georges Perec.

Amalia Pica
The Order of Things, Michel Foucault and The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano.

Amalia Pica

Christian Holstad
The telephone book.

David Shrigley
The dictionary, it is the one I keep going back to.

Ryan Gander
The Adventures of the Black Hand Gang by Hans Jurgen Press.

David Shrigley