23 Apr – 29 May 2011

Allegories of Good and Bad Government

Carolien Gehrels, Nicoline van Harskamp, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Sjim Hendrix, Hans van Houwelingen, Jonas Staal, Michiel van Wessem

The aim of Allegories of Good and Bad Government  is to come to an understanding and break through the status quo that defines the current relationship between art and politics.

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The project Allegories of Good and Bad Government is the result of a long-running discussion between visual artists Hans van Houwelingen and Jonas Staal and Amsterdam’s alderman for art and culture Carolien Gehrels (PvdA, labor party). All three of them put to discussion, from the perspective of their own practices, the mutual influences and interests between the domain of the artistic and the political.Their dialogue conveys the will to discuss the apparent ideological vacuum, which paralyses both art and politics and lends legitimacy to the current government’s massive spending cuts on culture. 

Allegories of Good and Bad Government consists of three parts: a four-day debate, an exhibition and a lecture program.

-The four-day debate takes place from 1-4 May with four artists and four politicians who reflect openly on their own strategies as well as the possibility of collaboration with others.

-The discussion will be accompanied by an exhibition in W139 of both artistic and political cases, such as an artwork, a policy a commentary or something else selected by the participants.

-The lecture program What Project Will Art and Politics Share? discusses in three lectures the relationship between art and politics in the past, present and future.

For the entire design of the exhibition and facilities the Amsterdam design collective Metahaven was approached. Their long-term research about the socio-political role and responsability of design is an important part in the organization of the project. Metahaven makes a spacial statement about politics and society: all the concrete facilities — for talking, eating, drinking, sleeping, moving — provide this project with a certain content. Artist-cook Sjim Hendrix will use food as a way to participate and reflect on the discussion.

The title Allegories of Good and Bad Government was inspired by the frescos of Italian painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1290—1348) in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena: Allegory of Good Government, Effects of Good Government on Town and Country and Allegory of Bad Government and its Effects on Town and Country.

Initiators: Carolien Gehrels, Hans van Houwelingen and Jonas Staal.
Participants: Salima Belhaj (D66), (Mariko Peters, GroenLinks - Green leftParty) Carolien Gehrels (PvdA – Labor Party), Nicoline van Harskamp, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Hans van Houwelingen, Ruud Nederveen (VVD-Popular Party for Freedom and Democracy), Jonas Staal, Michiel van Wessem (VVD)
Spatial Design: Metahaven
Chef: Sjim Hendrix

Photo's: Idan Shilon