241 Things

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (1983) studied composition, linguistics, and conceptual art in the Netherlands and the USA. He is currently a PhD candidate at EGS under supervision of Avital Ronell (NYU), and is related to the Interfaculty ArtScience in The Hague (NL) as a Visiting Faculty Member in art theory. He has lectured and produced exhibitions, publications, and translations in Czech Republic, China, Japan, France, the Netherlands, and the USA.

The “High School Shooter movement” comprises a number of students who at some point decided to shoot their classmates, teacher, and other personnel at their high schools and colleges, before committing suicide. A key element in defining the movement is that all of them have left a significant amount of written, photographed, videotaped, or otherwise recorded material contextualizing and commenting on their actions. This material can take the form of photographs, movies, diary entries, manifestoes, poems, etc. The list of former high school shooters, which is by no means complete, includes Eric Harris (1981-1999) and Dylan Klebold (1981-1999), Jeff Weise (1988-2005), Cho Seung-Hui (1984-2007), Pekka-Eric Auvinen (1989-2007) and Matti Juhani Saari (1986-2008).

Harris and Klebold are generally considered to be the founding members of the movement, killing 13 and injuring 24 on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado USA. This event has sparked a number of artistic reflexes and reflections, such as Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine (2002), Dennis Cooper’s novel My Loose Threat (Canongate, 2002), and Gus Van Sant’s movie Elephant (2003) which is stylistically based Alan Clarke’s Elephant (1989), depicting a series of anonymous murders in Northern Ireland.

More recently, writer Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and artist Jonas Staal have contextualized the High School Shooter movement within the history of (artistic) resistance, arguing for a reading through the work of French Situationist Guy Debord. In the same way that Debord included and refuted all criticism beforehand in his work Réfutation de tous les jugements… (1975), while at the same moment targeting the “society of the spectacle,” the high school shooters claim their actions as fully their own, as an ultimate and inappropriable possibility of resistance.Van Gerven Oei and Staal’s publication Follow Us or Die (Atropos Press, 2009) offers a survey of the writings, movies, and pictures produced by the high school shooters, contextualized within their own work.