studio on former shipyard N.D.S.M., Amsterdam
BART STUART & KLAAR VAN DER LIPPE
4 different horizons
5 our different perspective
3 room for creation & the city
the other side of the world
role and position art in spatial planning
choosing or designing?
why public space
Our different perspective
When we want to offer a different perspective to act alongside that of the market or the power, doing interesting projects or produce amazing objects is not enough. It might even be confusing. After all, the project and the object are the areas of expertise of the market or power. If we want to make a difference we must choose a different perspective and explore this.
We should even leave the familiar. Parallel to residencies. Forget about the normality of the arts and artists and art are just look for a different approach.
Mind you, we want to change the circumstances, but we want to preserve certain values.
The prerogatives of the free artist, the right to speak freely and decide for yourself and autonomity make a good starting point. The work process of the artist, creating, recreating, inspiration, reflection, is valuable. These are qualities that are essential right now. Qualities that should be generally accessible rather then being limited to an exclusive cultural elite.
Therefore, we want to try to shift the exclusive authorship of the professional, to everyday authorship. Creation as an option in everyday practice.
Choice or Creation
Being a consumer is more and more the only option we have in the public sphere. You are not powerless, but your palette of decisions is limited to making choices. Choosing is responding to predetermined options. A menu. Buying is to make choices, is not designing. Your part is to decide, not, to make decisions. Choices have consequences that are known in advance and calculated. As far as possible. The complexity of choices reacting on other choices can not be represented.
Choices therefore rarely about consequences in the longer term.
Another factor is scale. Lots of the consequences of choices here have global effects. Technically administratively our responsibility is limited to the nation-state we belong to. .
More and more jobs entail abstract decision-making processes. Meetings, proposals, budgets. While these processes have consequences in reality, the reality itself and the actual experience not part of the design process. City officials are often quite surprised when we show them through the unintended consequences in reality of the decisions that seemed to make sense in the boardroom.
The Greek polis was a small man-made environment in nature, we now live in an anthropogenic, man-made, world. We are collectively involved in shaping that world. A responsibility that is hardly part of everyday decision-making processes. Linear processes such as economy or government are not fit for complexity due to the limited conception of time and scale. Now and here is no longer a realistic basis for choice.
If art is to play a role in societal change it is the through the specific decision-making process of making art. Not by designing biodegradable cups. Not through works of art that provide insight. But through the process itself. The freedom and responsibility that traditionally are part of that process.
This transformational practice we call 'everyday authorship. "
Everyday authorship is different from the hyper-individual genius authorship. It addresses the creative process and the creative human being. But it also investigates the role and power of creation in the world. Everyday authorship is about exploring the creative process as a phenomenon. Without the aim to develop a product. It is about applying the creative process and experiencing the circular process. It is also socially engaged and is about the society we create.
The aim is to give a sense of the creative process. , and from that experience may obtain different results. This offers a number of applications.
Authorship means designing the process. Designing the process is somethin.g different from making choices. Choices have consequences afterward, Designing means you get to decide about the intentions. To carry responsibility for the whole. It opens the possibility of learning by doing. The outcome of the action is the basis for further decisions. Implying the risk of failure and the possibility of excellence. Everyday authorship can give practical knowledge and familiarity with the circular process.
RUIMTE IN DE POLIS....
Is anything left of the philosophical project of the Greek polis in spatial planning? In our experience very little. City planning has become a system with its own reality. The urban space is filled almost mechanically on the basis of market principles and calculations and regulations. It seems that the city no longer affords itself any ideals, and hides behind the 'neutrality' of economics, technocracy, efficiency and regulation.
This touches directly on the area of culture. When meaning and calculation coincide, the arts no longer play a role in the shared space. Both physically and philosophically. Arts and profit and rules have in fact their own mutually exclusive logic. Where critical value is not protected and available space, it is no longer taught and finally: understood. A spot on requirements for creating demand is more than just a pretty aim: to us it is self-preservation.
Our work is not a theoretical exercise, it is a tool for the reality around us.
Our studio is located on the NDSM wharf, the former shipyard in Amsterdam North. This area has seen several transformations after the bankruptcy in 1981. The latter is from cultural haven to high-end urban area. The cultural sanctuary began spontaneously but was later acquired and used as a tool for marketing the area.
From 2007 we participated very actively in the planning process around the NDSM. Cooperated with the Project Bureau, with the municipality.Gotten politicians involved. Organized artists on the NDSM. Made proposals. Chaired committees. Because we wanted to have as much influence as possible. All this necessarily from the bottom up: not as owner or professional. Through our dedication and professionalism, we had meetings at the highest level. Our ideas are praised, adopted and copied. We help uncover shady real estate practices. Officials driven to fraud. But we have not achieved anything structural.
role of the arts
ideas or concepts
After years of intense engagement with the planning, process we have to draw the conclusion that
artists have a very limited role in the planning. They are important in a decorative function. The qualities of their specific production process and way of working are irrelevant. The term 'creative city' is rhetoric. It is a specific aesthetic image but has no meaning or consequences on planning or the way of planning. Within the spatial and administrative world, only professionals with a similar work process and similar values are accepted. Values that can be measured, planned and monitored.
It is not impossible that your ideas are adopted. We have had a hand in many brainstorms. Concrete ideas we put forward have become reality in some form (as the plan for 'Hermes' in Almere and our vision for art in public space NDSM). Often our proposals are customized and made bureaucracy proof before being adopted(E.g the proposal Break Land). But as an author, artists have no place in the planning or decision-making process. Nor has the creative process.The only formal position is still to be invited to provide a work/project under the watchful eye of a curator and within the government regulations.
residue or makeup
Increased prices for real estate square footage virtually eliminated affordable workspaces at the NDSM. Due to refurbishment of the public space, it is also stripped of the traces of artistic work. The area is "raked". Recently, therefore, developers suggested to ask a well-known artist to create an 'icon' in the public space so that the area keeps its artistic image. This must of course be paid by 'culture funds ", since it is culture, not a market responsibility. The result is that the human activity, the process of creation, is replaced by a sign, a thing, a trophy. Spectacle instead of an real life experience. The disappeared artist space is compensated by a workshop space paid by the municipality space where artists can offer their services. Self-reliance is replaced by a subsidized event.
We have accepted this as a lost battle, but remain equally committed to bringing the creative process in the public space.
To provide a place to show our commitment and expertise we made a large unsolicited work in the public space around the slope where our workspace is: de stelling/FRAMED. (2014-2015). Stories and ideas are incorporated as a public essay.
Through experiencing this process from the inside, we realize what fundamental differences in approach are the cause of our failure. That is progress.
the other side of the world
Our residences in Central and South America have made us aware of the other side of the story.
We compete in the Netherlands to the destination of every square millimeter, in the countries we visit, spatial planning hardly is an issue. In Lima,Perru, the city is created by the newcomers from the rest of Peru. They squat a piece of state land and build a house. First of plastic, then wood and finally in stone. Roads are constructed at the same time. The occupied land is legally yours demonstrable personal use after 10 years.
Suriname is an infinite jungle. When you start to build in the forest nothing stands in your way. When you have the right connections there is even no problem building along the road. Although this seems nice and easy and has made things possible for us too, there are some serious objections to the lack of governance. Public space is hardly manged or designed. Power and capital determine what becomes rality. Public interest does not carry much weight. That does not mean there are no areas with quality. They are different in quality.
Working is other cultures has had profound effects. More important than changing our perception of spatial planning is the change in perception of ourselves and our history. Through interviews, research experiences we slowly begin to understand that our 'normal' is not absolute. From the 16th century Euro-centrism we conquered the world: Where I think it's mine. This belief is the foundation of global capitalism today. The costs to other cultures are not part of the discourse. In the colonization of the Americas, we only highlight the success for us: the famous VOC mentality that has brought us prosperity. Extraction economy, slavery, oppression, cultural destruction, are left unmentioned. Allthough the consequences are very real to the day.
reclaiming or self
We got acquainted with the concept of coloniality: the inherited colonial power hierarchy and values in the post-colonial society. Where colour and sex are still dominant power factors. The democratic character of society is not high. The liberation of the coloniser does not mean that freedom appears. The old structures of patronage are often still in place.
The cultural anthropologist Artwell Cain of the Caribbean puts it like this:
"You have to deconstruct the coloniality. You must first learn to speak about your background. Then become aware of the structures of your thinking and then learn new ways. Now people grow up in a Eurocentric culture. It's about reclaiming of self *: to become someone on your own terms.
Education is a key to the next generation. Learn, Unlearn, re learn "
adopting new concepts
Yet in practice, it is hard for us to imagine that 'western' is not the standard. Human rights are still the universal answer? Yes, for us. There are other realities.
Through a chance encounter in the mountains of Lima, Peru, we get to know the reality of "the other". Ways of working together have names here. They are used to indicate which form of cooperation it is expected of you.
The concepts come from indigenous communities. These functioned autonomously, without government or other authority to mediate the "we". How you help each other is contained in those words. Not only is their understanding of community quite different, it is also a very enlighting approach. It is participatory Avant la Lettre.
We try to introduce this knowledge to the spatial planning practice in the Netherlands. Whenever possible it becomes part of our approach. In principle, civil servants are open to these insights. But they are so far removed from the central notion of state-led planning, they get very little practical application.
Not the same horizon
Why do our attempts to gain influence come to nothing? What is the intrinsic tension between our goal and the goal of the government? After years of fruitless meetings, there is an insight: the core values of the relevant interest groups are fundamentally different. The way you bring these values into practice is a consequence of that conviction. This practice is inevitably different too. Everyone is right in his own way. It is just impossible to come to an agreement. Every interest group has a self-preservation reflex.
The central value of governments is regulation. Targets are determined politically, the government then realized according to agreed upon processes. Making a profit is not required.
The real estate developer's central value is profit. Regulations are a circumstance, not a prerequisite.
The process of government and the developer has a finish. It is a linear process in which the goal is formulated at the beginning, and is then achieved according to a set protocol. Gains or losses are calculated within a defined period. It is 'finished' at a set time. Then, a new project is started. Targets are formulated positively and directed towards new construction or alteration. Whether something is good or bad for the city in a philosophical or social sense, is irrelevant to the performance.
Artists and scientists perform differently. Their main value is the search for truth or reality. There is no set time limit. Truth or reality seekers do not stop. It is a learning and discovery process. Each outcome is the basis for the next question. The artistic and scientific process are fundamentally circular. It just keeps going.
Linear work is focused on product and results. The purpose is the final result. In the circular process, the value is not the one-time object. The value lies in the in principle infinite process.
When it comes to shaping reality the different approaches of the various parties are at odds. Government and market work linear. Art and science circular. Both ways of working are legitimate from their own perspective. Neither are valid from the perspective of the other. They are mutually exclusive.