A LECTURE BY JAN VERWOERT
Time: Tuesday September 27, 2016 at 7 pm
Location: Piet Zwart Institute, Karel Doormanhof 45 Rotterdam
It’s not a given that people still make art, say things or sing songs once they identify as an artist, speaker or singer. Being appointed the role of the one who must act, speak or sing before others is a burden. You raise expectations. Will you disappoint? This fear is paralysing. Unnamed others happily make art, speak and sing at home, on the street, or in the shower. They’re fine with it. Why surrender this joy and loose the agency of doing what you did freely and fearlessly, by naming yourself artist, speaker, singer? Even if this is who you may be?
Why not call yourself by your name?
Why not be your own nominee?
Because others may find it pretentious. Friends, family, a whole country may agree: “Art? Come on. Get real. The people want politics. They need education. Teach them something useful. Don’t pretend you could make art, talk or sing. If you don’t want to do proper work, like us, you don’t belong here. Who do you think you are?” A foreigner to what a moral majority considers real, honest enough to admit that you are, you risk being cut off from reality: the reality of society around you, but also the reality of your very own life and practice. By calling yourself an artist, speaker or singer you may therefore become a foreigner to art, speech and song. Can you still belong? Never or nonetheless?
Jan Verwoert is a critic and writer on contemporary art and cultural theory, based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor of frieze magazine, his writing has appeared in different journals, anthologies and monographs. He teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam. He is the author of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous, MIT Press/Afterall Books 2006, the essay collection Tell Me What You Want What You Really Really Want, Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute 2010, together with Michael Stevenson, Animal Spirits — Fables in the Parlance of Our Time, Christoph Keller Editions, JRP, Zurich 2013, and a second collection of his essays Cookie! published by Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute 2014.