Ends of Art

kunstlicht impact

The new issue of the journal Kunstlicht, which is edited by graduate students of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, is dedicated to “Cultural Policies: Agendas of Impact.” From the official announcement:

“This issue, guest-edited by Lara Garcia Diaz and Cristina Marques, delves into the historical grounds and present implications of arts and culture funding policies and programmes in the Netherlands and beyond. It features authors including: Sven Lütticken, Steven ten Thije, Josephine Berry, Bram Ieven and Market for Immaterial Value.

At the end of 2014, the Dutch Ministry of Culture (OCW) announced a new Art and Culture public fund, The Art of Impact, designating seven million euro to support art projects that have a distinct impact on society. With this programme, the policy of austerity initiated by minister of culture Halbe Zijlstra enters a new phase. Ideologically, it shifts away from discrediting the arts as a left-wing hobby towards rendering the arts as a tool of intervention and engagement with society.

In light of these events, Kunstlicht feels the necessity to initiate a debate about The Art of Impact to question the agenda of Cultural Policies that ultimately uses creativity and innovation to fuel neoliberal agendas and discourses. This topic already surfaced earlier this summer at our event in relation to the closing of the SMBA. We would like to use the launch event of our next issue to continue the debate and present you with different perspectives on the topic.

What does it mean to attribute to the artists, designers and art institutions the social, economical and political responsibility of changing and improving the world? The evening will consist of a moderated debate with guest speakers, a performance and a public discussion on the topic.”


My contribution, which is based on my work on the forthcoming Art and Autonomy reader, is an essay titled “Ends of Art: From Nul to Bijl.” In this text I analyse various proposoals (with various degrees of seriousness) to close art spaces or top making art in favour of more useful activities. One such case is Guillaume Bijl’s “Art Liquidation Project” text from 1979. Artist Wok the Rock refences this “fake manifesto” and Bijl’s Driving School Z installation in the comic he has drawn for this issue, which is wrapped around the cover in the form of a riso print.