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[Nettime-ro] How a fake is manipulating the art scene
Attila Tordai on Fri, 20 Feb 2004 15:41:12 +0100 (CET)


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[Nettime-ro] How a fake is manipulating the art scene



[How a fake is manipulating the art scene - a new form of cyber crime] 

A statement by Agricola de Cologne,
media artist and New Media curator from Cologne/Germany 

 ---->
"Herewith, I announce officially my disengagement in
"Biennale de Paris 2004" (20 February - 15 March 2004)
www.biennaledeparis.org
and the cancellation of my participation with effect on 1 December 2003."
<----- 

Cancelling meant taking responsibility
in order to protect all those institutions, organisations, curators and
artists, which had joint already my project,
but in second place also to prevent any further damage
from my personal reputation as an artist and curator. 

What was happening: 

When I was invited on 7 October 2003 to participate in the event
called "Biennale de Paris", I saw it as a chance to realise my ideas
of "networking as artworking" in the project "RRF 2004"
which I initiated also on this occasion.
The concept of my project extended the networking ideas of the concept of
the Biennial.
There was really no reason to mistrust the organisation of the Biennale,
as I had several professional contacts during several years
to a person named Alexandre Gurita, currently the >director< of "Biennale
de Paris",
there seemed to be a lot of internationally well known artists participating
(at least at that time, nearly nobody of them is left now) and, above all,
I had not any negative report about this event at that time, in contrary. 

The magic of the name "Biennale de Paris" did not only impress
and blinded me, but also all other people who came in touch with this
name. 

In order to give my project RRF 2004 concrete dimensions,
it was necessary to fix as soon as possible all technical details of my
participation directly in Paris.
And in this way, the Biennial organisation and I agreed a lot of things
which had to
be prepared for that purpose and I fixed a date when I would go to Paris.
And then, I was recently in November in Paris, indeed, and on my own
expenses. 

Knowing, how professional organisations are structured and working,
I expected to meet competent people working professionally,
but this was the first shock, there was nothing like that. 

The Biennale organisation consisted actually of one single person,
Alexandre Gurita, who calls himself director of "Biennale de Paris".
We met each other in his small and shabby privat flat,
as there is no official office of "Biennale de Paris",
and nothing we had agreed was prepared, at all. 

I had expected to view several artspaces (as agreed) which would host the
installation of my project in physical space,
to meet professional people at medialabs etc
but finally, I was offered one single very poor space, which manifested
itself as a disgusting underground space
somewhere at the Parisian suburbs far from any public.................
It was shocking to see, that this person was only talking and talking and
nothing happened in the end.
My visit to Paris was a nightmare and I had to be a tourist against my own
will, as I visited some museums , instead of preparing my art project. 

But there were some good reasons why all that happened to me,
as during my stay in Paris I found out the following by research: 

Some years ago, the French Ministry of Culture
(together with the municipality of Paris responsible for the "Biennale de
Paris")
moved the official French Biennale (Biennale de Paris) from Paris to Lyon
(now- Biennale de Lyon) as a result of the decentralisation in France,
and a guy, named Alexandre Gurita took the chance to buy the rights on the
name "Biennale de Paris".
When he started to use this once official name for his privat purposes,
the result was a conflict with nearly
all official instances as French Ministry of Culture etc. 

Someone from outside might even find this story quite amusing --->
a kind of Robin Hood was fighting against the Parisian establishment,
which is most hated by many people in France.
In this way, Alexandre Gurita seemed to be well tolerated by some
people, mostly artists, of course.
But the matter is anything else than funny,
while viewing all aspects and consequences connected, and they are only
shocking. 

One of the serious consequences are,
that the French Ministry of Culture and a lot of other official instances
refuse any contact and
support to the Biennale organisation, as long as
Alexandre Gurita keeps the name "Biennale de Paris" as his private property.
As this conflict is still cooking
it must be expected the Biennale would be closed or stopped by juridical
order immediately at the opening or even earlier or later.
To be involved in such a situation would be a most horrible perspective. 

Of course, there are also many events which have no public funding at all,
and many of them are on an high qualitative level, even if they have no
budget, at all,
but in this case the consequences are very fatal also in some other concern,
as the Biennale organisation cannot offer any artist any public artspace
(which all belong to the municipality or the state),
but also not any other appropriate artspace,
due to the incompetence and the lack of any professional contacts. 

The legal conditions were in addition completely obscure, as there was no
contract
which was settling essential questions as liability, insurance, expenses etc
and this became also no matter of discussion. 

But it was also nearly consequent that I could actually not agree with
the pseudo-philosophical ideas coming more and more in front in the
discussion. 

In this way, it became clear, why I had to go to Paris in vain ---->
in the framework of "Biennale de Paris"
there was simply not anything possible on a professional level.
What was called "Biennale de Paris" was a caricature and a fake, in fact. 

After four days in Paris, I was completely exhausted from all this nonsense.
However, I wanted to be legally correct,
and before I left Paris I set the organisator a final deadline (Sunday, 30
November)
until he had to offer me a well respected institution in Paris,
which would be hosting my project during the "Biennale". 

I do not need to explain to you, how I felt when I left Paris
and I actually did not know, what to do,
as I saw not only my project RRF 2004, but my entire artistic career in
high danger, and felt the heavy burden of responsibility.
RRF 2004 was initiated on occasion of this "fake" and had the magic label of
this "fake", and I felt like a criminal who was an accomplice of this
"fake". 

I did honestly not expect anything from this final deadline,
and it passed and nothing happened, indeed . 

But meanwhile additional details underlined the "fake" character of this
event as it had become obvious, that a number of the artists listed as
participating and nearly the entire "International Support Committee"
seemed to be purely fictive and a fake, as well.
You find there a lot of names of persons who exist physically,
but these people do not know about their function in Biennale de Paris at
all, they do not even know anything about this event, some other people are
even dead as Pierre Restany ( a charismatic and well known person in the
Paris art scene), who died already much earlier this year. 

Then I heard that also other artists who had obviously recognised
what the "real" Biennale represents were cancelling their
participation..........
........
(1 December 2003)
... now the deadline had passed and while viewing all that and much more
there was really no other alternative
than cancelling my participation in "Biennale de Paris"
immediately and waste no more time,
in order to prevent any damage from those who joint my project as an
institution, organisation, curator and artist
and to protect my reputation as an artist and curator from any further
damage. 

(11 December 2003)
Was already all this what I explained a nightmare, it was even topped,
however, by what was following:
Alexandre Gurita took my name and the names of some other artists
who had also cancelled their participation, as a hostage and refused for ten
days
to remove our names from the website of "Biennale de Paris".
He manipulate continuously the information posted on the Biennale site and
moved the names from one document to another, it was a kind of cat/mouse
game and
there was no chance to remove our names from this criminal environment,
until I took a lawyer in Paris who took juridical steps against Mr. Gurita.
On Tuesday, 10 December in the evening not only my name,
but also the names of the other artists hostages were removed.
This was really hard work in quite a short time, as the legal conditions
between different countries
(Cologne in Germany/Paris in France) are always complex, but the ni! ghtmare
had now an end. 

 -------> 

There was no other way, but it was also extremely bitter, to inform all
those
about 250 people, institutions and organisations individually
which were connected ever to the organisation of RRF 2004 and
ask for their understanding and whether they would remain participating
in my project or continue discussing their participation without the magic
label of the fake. 

I am really glad and most grateful, that immediately some of the involved
institutions
re-confirmed the collaboration process as the
National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucaresti/Romania,
New Media Festival Bangkok 2004, Folly New Media Institute Lancaster (UK),
BEK Bergen/Norway and some others, so that the damage seems to be limited.
My re-organised global networking project RRF 2004 can now be further
developed
on a really professional level and can be operating until the end of 2004,
as it was planned. 

signed on 16 December 2003
by
Wilfried Agricola de Cologne
Cologne/Germany 

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
////////////////////////////////////////// 

Resume 

As "Biennale de Paris" had been once the official name of an official event,
it would have been in any case most stupid
if anybody would have used this name for his private purposes.
It was most unlikely that anybody would get such an absurd idea.
Therefore all people who came in contact were blinded by the magic of the
name. 

Even more stupid and adventurous was the idea to put this new
"Biennale de Paris" on a same level as Venice Biennale,
Tokyo Biennial or DOKUMENTA/Kassel, as it had been done.
And this all the more, as the pseudo-organisation of
Alexandre Gurita has no budget, at all, to finance only the paper for
writing a letter. 

Such an idea can come only from a schizophrenic,
who has lost any sense for reality.
In so far, such a person is most dangerous,
as he brings disaster to everybody who comes too close. 

The most frightening thing is, however, that this person, named Alexandre
Gurita, -
it is meanwhile not even clear whether this name is true or not - was and
is still protected
by a lot of people, in first place by a mafia-like structure of buddies,
and in second place, and this is most relevant, by all those people
who know about the matter and do nothing against it. 

These sponsors listed on www.biennaledeparis.org
support officially "Biennale de Paris 2004" 

Alyasis http://www.aliasys.fr/
ARCHISTORM http://www.archistorm.com/
ART PROCESS http://www.art-process.com/ , an empty domain
BATOFAR http://www.batofar.net/
CRANE http://www.plus.asso.fr/
ETNOKA http://www.etnoka.com/
ESPACE SD http://www.espacesd.com/
G2J http://www.g2j.com/
OPENAY http://www.openay.com/
PARIS ART http://www.paris-art.com/ , also sponsor of Musee d'Art Moderne,
Paris
PULPE http://www.pulpe.fr/
STAMINIUM http://www.staminium.com/
SOUSSAN Ltd http://www.soussancom.com/ , also listed as participating
artist
2 PIECES CUISINE, no website available
3DWEAVE - http://www.3dweave.com/ 

 ---->
Probably, the Parisians are accustomed to such a kind of absurd theatre
(the "absurd theatre" was invented in Paris once) and
probably they even like the thrill to watch how many people are brought
disaster.
It was necessary that someone from outside of the French capital unmasked
this theatre
and acted in the only possible way - -->
not accepting, not tolerating, taking responsibility and becoming
immediately active against it.
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