Saturday, September 23, 2006

Art proves its relevance

Originally uploaded by roel1943.
I love festivals. I love all about them: the wristbands, openings, buzz and weirdness.

Or maybe I have to be a bit more honest than that. Not like everything everything. I am one of those people who would have watched Woodstock only on TV. I am not a big fan of mud, tents, rain, warm white wine and drunken crowds.

In that respect yesterday's Todaysart in The Hague was ideal. I really got excited about the concept of taking public buildings (such as a museum, the city hall or a library) and turning them into clubby environments. Urban festivals such as Todaysart justify clearly their substantial public funding: by twisting things a bit they show that the city can be an exciting and hip public sphere. Although I understand in certain circumstances the Art for Art's sake argument, I still feel that more often one could come up with a way how art could help the citizens to observe, analyse or broaden their mindsets (see John Holden's essay on the subject).

In my work on theoneminutesjr programme I am constantly amazed by the way artists are able to interact with people and cross boundaries in language or culture. In theoneminutesjr the video artists prove again and again how they are able to meet the underprivileged youngsters on an equal standing and in that way create a safe and intimate atmosphere for intimate sharing.

Yesterday's Todaysart offered a similar example but in the field of dance. The youth dance group (sixteen 18-23-year-olds) Nederlands Dans Theater II opened the festival with a fresh, sharp, positively aggressive and physical performance. The highlight of the performance was when the dancers dragged people from the crowd to come and let go on the stage. Even though personally I would have hated being on stage, I was astonished by the reactions of the audience. NDT II won the hearts of the audience in a minute. And why? For the same reasons as why theoneminutesjr works so well: it is authentic, warm and sincere.

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