FREEDOM ON SALE / HOW WEST CREATES THE EAST

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FREEDOM ON SALE / HOW WEST CREATES THE EAST

Today, freedom is on sale, and most of the time it’s for free. Anyone has an opinion about whatever the subject, without almost no sustainability or subtle observation of the problem and with no consequences whatsoever about what they say. The simplicity is clear cut: either you like or dislike, you agree or disagree, you find it good or bad.

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WELCOME TO TATE - THE MODERN APPROACH - PLEASE APPLY HERE

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WELCOME TO TATE - THE MODERN APPROACH - PLEASE APPLY HERE

Job search in the arts is as insidious a process as our capitalistic system proves to be. Fierce competition among applicants. Shameless exploitation of labour force. Added to that the unsolvable equation of having to present an extended resume of past professional experiences without hardly ever being given the opportunity to actually acquire it. That golden ticket to what they call your ‘dream job’ is always out of reach. On the other hand, how could we comply with the following requirements altogether – flexibility, independence, team worker, not the 9 to 5 mentality, stress resistant, sense of humour (I swear) – without any kind of desperation lying beneath this perfectly blitched motivation letter?

After spending about the entire day carefully crafting and filling up the online application (after all, I believe I am competent) for an assistant curator position at TATE modern, London, I reach step 8 - out of 10.

Tate is committed to becoming more diverse. We try to ensure that our application process is accessible to people from all backgrounds and is free from discrimination [...] To monitor the effectiveness of our diversity policy, please supply the monitoring information outlined below [...]

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) must be completed.

Question

*Gender

Possible answers, from top down (no ranking):

  • Male
  • Female
  • Prefer not to say

'Female'

Question

*Age

Possible answers, from top down (no ranking):

  • 16-17
  • 18-21
  • 22-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51-60
  • 61-65
  • 66-70
  • 71 +
  • Prefer not to say

Answer: '22-30'

Question

*Ethnic origin

Possible answers, from top down (no ranking):

  • White British
  • White Irish
  • White Gypsy or Irish traveller
  • Any other White background
  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Any other Asian background
  • Black Caribbean
  • Black African
  • Any other Black background
  • White and Black Caribbean
  • White and Black African
  • White and Asian
  • Any other mixed background
  • Arab
  • Any other background
  • Prefer not to say

Being French, I fall under the 'other white background'. Although my dad is Italian. Am I then from another mixed background? My skin colour does easily get darker in the summer. Hum. I'm confused now.

Question

*Do you consider yourself to have a disability?

As defined by the Equality Act 2010, a disability is: 'A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.'

Possible answers:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Prefer not to say

I have a slight tendency to depression, and used to have an eating disorder when I was 15 but who didn’t? Does that make me mentally disable? Will I have to ‘specify’ if I say yes? I tick NO.

Question

*What is your sexual orientation?

Possible answers, from top down (no ranking):

  • Heterosexual/straight
  • Gay or lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Other
  • Prefer not to say

If other please state.

Answer: 'Uh...'

Question

*What is your belief?

Possible answers, from top down (no ranking):

  • No religion/belief
  • Christian
  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Sikh
  • Any other religion or belief
  • Prefer not to say

If other please state.

Answer: 'Other.'

What is this? ‘Respectable person’ top charts according to UK policy? No doubt ‘Arab’ and ‘Muslim’ come last.

There is no wrong or right answer, only boxes to tick. There is no judgment, only individuals’ classification.

Well here is my answer. And I prefer to say it. I’m not gonna comply with your requirements.

I refuse to wear the tag(s) of my personality traits according to your system or any other systems for that matter.
I will fight institutionalized hypocrisy and exhibit the mental disability of the society I have to live in every day.

Oh, and I almost forgot the last (invisible) question:

Now are you willing to intern and work your ass off for no pay check?

Sure, why not.

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The New Intellectual (ARCHETYPE SERIE) represented by Connor Schumacher / photocredit: Tatiana Stoute

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The New Intellectual (ARCHETYPE SERIE) represented by Connor Schumacher / photocredit: Tatiana Stoute

Yearly, GET ME presents her selection of today’s archetypes. But from now on, we will not keep you waiting for a whole year, as we will quarterly present the new and contemporary subcultures that stand out. They stand out by their contradictions, by their pronounced values, common behaviour or shared vision.

This time we zoom-in at the New Intellectual, represented by Connor Schumacher, the Rotterdam based American artist and performer.

 


The New Intellectual: While the older 20 something has a tendency to have an opinion about everything, preferably in just 140 characters maximum as Twitter instructs us, the younger 20 something is remarkably reticent about disclosing opinions. He would rather like to question everything. And so he does. Fulfilling his curiosity through studies such as philosophy, art, or linguistics, his mobile devices are slowly exchanged for novels. He deliberately chooses to read critical classics like 1984.  We, older 20 ones are partying mainly in order to forget, the younger generation rather seems to want to remember. From popping XTC in dark holes with loud tunes they reclaim vinyl as never before accompanied by good conversations with red wine and coke to clear the mind. Socially aware, political- involved and serious as they are – this young intellectual kid might be our future’s hope.

Interview with the New Intellectual representative, Connor Schumacher (US), artist and performer.

 

How would you describe our generation? What are our characteristics?

Most distinctive about the spirit of our time, our Zeitgeist, is this idea of you can be just who we want to be. Mostly because ‘being who you want to be’ is a very different experience than knowing whom you are. Some things we just do for the idea they represent. Why are people dying their hair to pale grey, green or pink? What does that represent? And why did piercing your septum become such a big thing this year? What is the idea that sweeps across a generation?

It can’t really be that every single one of those people thought ‘I should stick a pin through my nose because that makes me something more who I really am’


It can’t really be that every single one of those people thought ‘I should stick a pin through my nose because that makes me something more who I really am’. Even when I had a nose ring I did it because I thought it made me something more than what I already was. It helped bringing out a part of me that I wanted to bring out. But I think we really living in a time where it's more like: ‘ I want to be this person today, I want to bring out this strength in me, or emphasize this quality’ – instead of knowing you have those qualities and being secure it them.

Some label our age-group as Generation-Sell? Is that what you are referring to?

I don’t think these titles come around for no reason. It points to the concept of you wanting to sell yourself to as many people as possible. But how are you going to attain this? You have to transform into this vulgar abstraction of what you really are. And by vulgar I mean based on the Latin root that means 'common, mass, crowd, or throng'. Vulgar as a term for mass acceptance. Something which is exactly what celebrities have done for ages. But now, with social media, it becomes more widely accepted for us as individuals to also use this behaviour.

And is it your reality as well?

It just not really true that you can sell your real self to hundreds and millions of followers on Twitter. It is not possible. Or at least, in my mind it doesn’t seem possible. I once read of an anthropologist who stressed that one human can only interact with 25 individuals on a strong level. And that makes a lot sense instinctively to me, especially moving as much as I did – from place to place – I can never hold on to what I had in those places. Maybe one person. And now living in this new place, Rotterdam, makes me free again to connect to 25 people. That is what I can hold on to. That is what my brain can handle. That is what my humanity can handle. Everything after that becomes a distortion of reality of who people think I am and what they think I do with my life.

I once read of an anthropologist who stressed that one human can only interact with 25 individuals on a strong level
connor_31_small.jpg

Would you describe this time as confusing? Or is it quite clear to you?

Do I rationally think it is a good idea that everything crashes and burns and we need to find a new way to built it up? Yeah. But shit, that would be hard.

The fact that I have some awareness of our own downfalls, I definitely find confusing. Being conscious about it, but still very much a part of it as well. That is something that really rubs my guilt the wrong way.
This philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, talks about revolutionaries in our time and how everybody wants the revolution to happen, to change the world, but no one is willing to accept the uncomfortable nature of what it will bring if it really happens. And this is where the revolution always fails.

I say all these things about selling yourself and becoming something that you are really not, and yet I have to sell myself to programmers to sell my performances, or sell myself in some really ridiculous way to get subsidy. But let’s not go there.

I want change but at the same time I want to keep my fancy and comfortable surroundings and be able to not have to farm my own food. I have lived in comfort all my life, so it will be fucking scary to think about life without those comforts.

Do I rationally think it is a good idea that everything crashes and burns and we need to find a new way to built it up? Yeah. But shit, that would be hard.

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We need music -  an ode to the soul

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We need music - an ode to the soul

I would like to make a statement. A statement that is known but easy forgotten, namely: that music lets you escape the speed of life. The life of the Western World: the hasty sphere where we live in nowadays.

Music has the ability to make you breath calmly, feeling happy and powerful. For a few minutes you subsist in a different world. Entering a new universe – contemporary and desirable at the same time.
Away from all the hustle and bustle. Away from everything that needs to be done.

I sense that people sometimes forget to really live. They forget to enjoy their lives. Days go too fast and in the speed of life people are drowning. Flying through they daily burdens, from appointment to appointment, without even enjoying the conversation or activity because the mind is set towards the next to-do-task. We are just not living in the moment. Consider it as an inescapable conduct; it’s a lifestyle in the end. Stressful and exhausting, and as bills are stacking up, expectations grow and dreams need to be fulfilled – we feel stuck.

So lately, more and more people choose to live their mental life consciously. By participating the principles of yoga and meditation, the mindfulness state becomes part of their daily routine. But there is another significant tendency going on. Although my generation has less money to spend, people are massively joining festivals and concerts. And the tickets ain’t that cheap. Quite remarkable. Having little money, but spending it generously on music? Why would we do that? What is the need? Well it’s exactly that.

We need music. Music has the power to regain – what is in my opinion - the essence of life: enjoying it. This spiritual experience is perhaps the most beautiful thing that music can give to us. Becoming captivated in a certain melody, losing yourself and your thoughts, and just be for a moment – in a trance - that is a spiritual experience.

We need music to find tranquillity and cohesion. Take minimal music. This music has something meditative and hypnotizing which again has a sedative effect. Fascinating, because of the repetitive patterns and small nuances. The repetitive patterns are corresponding with the pulses of your heart. It is the rhythm of life. There is a constant tension present, as the climax is continually extended. It just goes on and on, and the only aim is to find inner piece. So the only thing you can do is just let it go. Just live in the moment. And that is exactly what we are searching for in spirituality: inner peace. We need to be thankful for this free remedy – offered by other searching souls. Lost in today's' rapidity.

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These Images of Desires

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These Images of Desires

Before humankind was equipped with soft and shiny mobile technologies for producing, disseminating and consuming images on the go, from the comfort of their 3m2 bathrooms to thrilling remote rice fields in south Asia, it already demonstrated its penchant for intimate relationships with images… in the late Medieval Age. Indeed, it was common practice for mere believers at the time to bring around personal ‘devotional’ images. Often found in the shape of a wooden diptych, they were used by an increasingly mobile population who needed smaller, portable means to carry on a dialogue with God wherever they went. Medieval devotional images functioned as readymade tools, enabling one to induce a desirable state of mind, regulate the rhythm of the day or even comfort its owner in their solitude. Through sacred adoration, devotional images’ users dearly hoped, in their quest for piety, to benefit from their humdrum interactions with these images.

Back then, no high speed internet neither social media platforms relentlessly fuelled such daily and intimate relationship with images.  Yet the medieval media, i.e. the church, fiercely participated in the mass production of godly representations, subsequently spreading their miniature replicas to the wide public. Anorexic males and holy virgins’ idols have long lost audiences’ fervour (although…).  Never the less, devotional practices akin to medieval ones have perpetuated until today. Contemporary images of desires, often found in the shape of digital instants of frivolity, nowadays enable anybody rightly tooled up with a smartphone to carry on a dialogue with their friends and/or followers wherever they go via images of their latest holidays, Nikes, parties, selfies, bare feet, cappuccinos, sun rise, sun set, cocktails, cats and what not.

The roots of our contemporary image culture thus appear to be far beyond the end of the twentieth century but rather, grounded in early western religious discourses, heavily relying on the wide dissemination of images as means for communication and ideology formation. In today’s western world, images are everywhere. Their endless production and consumption, driven by the avidity to possess glimpses of a life that escapes our never supplanted discontentment, have become a constant thread in one’s daily life.  Ironically, once images come to constitute forms of circulating capitals, they become part of a culture of things, producing enthusiasm, fervour and exaltation, analogous to old religious fetishism - or what Zizek calls ‘sublime objects of ideology’.  Eventually, for we constantly vehicle images of events that we do not live but continuously seem to pursue in a quest for better, smatter, happier, funnier, prettier, cooler - we have become active participants of such an ideology.

If images once held a prospective function to not only help us recollect our past but to build our future, today’s images appear to hold us hostage of insignificant moments whilst keeping us in the loop of constant dis-satisfaction. Instead of being objects of growth, images have become insidious tokens of marketable pursuits of happiness. The almighty power of the church has long been disavowed but the mess is now every day, anytime, anywhere and we are its most devoted preachers.

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NEW THEME / RELIGION / INTRODUCTION / THE NEED FOR FAITH

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NEW THEME / RELIGION / INTRODUCTION / THE NEED FOR FAITH

This quarter GET ME will focus on religion. While our Western government mostly seems to be occupied with de-popularizing religious glorifications, curiosity for holy activities gains. Searching in our lives for substance like the alchemist’s new gold, more than ever religion seems to confuse us.

Growing up within the scheme of rational thinking as the fundament of our reasoning, it is quite striking how spirituality, the enlightened partner of religion, reclaims the youngster again. As a reaction on our determinedness to find balance between body and mind, healthy food concerns, yoga temples and alternative therapy centres pop up like mushrooms. But there is more than these single individualistic approaches on finding mind peace. Endless packed-back-to-basic festivals, coffee gatherings and what-not collectives, our leisure seems to be mostly spend on finding a certain unity. So we might need faith now more than ever because our ideologies are obscuring the fact that we have more things in common than conflict.

The next couple of weeks we will look in to escapism and music as spiritual experience, how the Western society consider technology as their holy grail, our religious fetishism with imagines, and how popularity rises under young people to convert.

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