Speaking of Bettina Camilla Vestergaard, whose radical freeloading thrilled us so, here’s a more recent project of her devising, from August 2010. Decenter II was a “park intervention,” the purpose of which was to “reinterpret Decenter, an artist colony set up by Danish author Elsa Gress and painter Clifford Wright at Marienborg Manor in the 1970s” and which offered “an uninhibited space for creative thought and action.”
Here we see Elsa Gress (seated) and Clifford Wright (cloaked) with some of their protégés:
And here’s a lively artistic happening:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the original “artist colony” had a brief and tragic history:
The shared ambition (dream) was that the castle would one day become a permanent cultural centre… an idea that enjoyed broad support in Danish cultural circles in the 1970s. But… the story ended tragically and the castle was demolished in 1984. Shortly hereafter Decenter ceased to exist and thereby also a story that in many ways is characteristic of the 60s and 70s experimental art scene. Today the castle is replaced with a large empty lawn that, like another ‘ground zero,’ is a site that begs for action, for something new to happen.
Yes, it’s another ground zero. Oh, don’t raise those eyebrows. Decenter was, we’re told, a place for artists who longed to escape “the choking effects of the market,” and who wished to air their “radical and uncompromising thoughts,” thereby creating “a more humanely oriented society.” You see, these precious flowers are choked by the market, implying as it does a reciprocal arrangement with the rube footing the bill. A parasitic relationship, in which the taxpayer has no say and is essentially irrelevant, is much more liberating.
See, radical and uncompromising.
Thankfully, Ms Vestergaard seized upon these lofty ideals and brought them back to life, albeit temporarily – “not by presenting them through a sentimental view of the past but by reinterpreting them into a contemporary societal context.” And so great questions of our time were probed and interrogated: “What forms, actions and enunciations do Elsa Gress’ ideas about art, society and our collective responsibility create today?” (Where would artists be without questions to interrogate in a conveniently vague and inconclusive way, especially questions about society and collective this and that?)
Ms Vestergaard’s “decentered workshop”-slash-“park intervention” was of course more than mere homage and was intended to create a “common platform for performances, literature and visual art by thirteen collaborating artists.” As the project’s publicity material informs us, “Through a revival of the social processes and free thinking that characterised Decenter, Bettina Camilla Vestergaard aims to encourage us to reinterpret history in order to consider how it is constructed and used today.” How indeed. And what’s more, the participants were asked to grapple with,
Ideas about collectivity and individuality, art and democracy, centering and decentering, and the importance of creating uninhibited spaces.
Gosh. So much to mull. I’m sure their deep, deep findings will be published in due course, thereby shaking the world. While we wait to be enlightened, here’s some photographic evidence of just how radical it was:
You’ll be pleased to hear that Ms Vestergaard also filmed this four day experiment in collective daring. In order to improve your minds and make you better people, the fruits of her endeavour are posted below in two gripping instalments.
Part 1. “I don’t think it will be that interesting.” “Super-conservatism.” Megaphone waffle. Open-source food.
Part 2. Radical poetry. Veggie patties. Radical grass-tearing. Meeting the public.
And remember, these are the edited highlights.
These are the bits with which Ms Vestergaard hoped to impress us and secure more funding.
Four days well spent, I think you’ll agree.