August 29


10 a.m.:
Visit at the Semper Opera with Jana Kreuziger (Radeberger Gruppe AG) and Henry C. Brinker (Director of Marketing and Communication, Semperoper)

  Henry C. Brinker's first job as the Semper Opera House's head of communications was to visit a coach holiday trade fair in Cologne. "We sell 25 operas a year to coach trippers." He has prepared a powerpoint presentation for us. His screen saver is an image of wild mushrooms. "Wild mushrooms are my favourite mushrooms," he says. "When I'm down, I look at the mushrooms. Opera and Coca-Cola don't mix but opera and wild mushrooms do." "Most people come here for the building, regardless of what's showing. I might as well show my mushrooms." He adds, "I'm an art mid-wife" and "The main thing is the art on the stage.“ His voice becomes more melodious. The main sponsor Radeberger's envoy says little.
Back on our World Trade Center balcony we exchange opinions. The group proves to be well behaved, polite and well versed in handling differences of opinion. We order pizza and eat hungrily, straight from the box. The weather is still lovely.


3 p.m.:
The city as (historic) image
Observatorium (artists group, Rotterdam):
(text, presentation)
Krassimir Terziev (artist, Sofia):
Excuse Me, Which City Is This?

Andre Dekker introduces the work of the Observatorium artist group. After the symposium he sends me a number of interesting observations: „Many people are smart. There are many things one doesn't know. Smart insights don't mean that the audience is equally smart.” During his lecture I learn that the American Bill of Rights includes the sentence “You have the right to be left alone.” His talk about the group's long attachment to a juvenile prison for which they installed a garden with a car workshop and goats includes the insight that „Prisioners come and go. Staff stay.“ Andre has since written: "The advantage of art presentations at a symposium is not having to question if it is true or if there might be opposite truths.”

Krassimir Terziev's film is shot on a set left behind by an Italian film production at a studio in Sofia. The set depicts an average historical central european city. Film extras have been recruited for a day's work but the shoot never begins. The camera observes the extras chatting, killing time, enjoying each others company and linking arms. I ask myself if extras everywhere would react like that or if different nationalities would behave differently. I'd love to know if the extras in my country would have been so patient. But I don't know much about the film extra profession.

Image of capitalist Rotterdam,
Andre's Remarks


7 p.m.:
The city as (historic) image
Andreas Siekmann (artist, Berlin):
On Behalf Of Streets And Squares
Prof. Dr. Karl-Siegbert Rehberg (Institute of Sociology, TU Dresden):
The Canaletto-Syndrom - Dresden As An Imaginary City

moderated by Sophie Goltz (co-curator of Wild Capital / Wildes Kapital)

Then Andreas Siekmann presents his proposal for a history of public art. Oil crises and squatters, documenta and participation. I listen entranced. Luchezar says "Nice drawing". The Bulgarian participants feel patronised and are clearly angered.

"Every institution - and art is always institutional - invents its own genealogy." Karl-Siegbert Rehberg's eloquence is captivating. "Before we move on to a more pleasant topic" as he puts it, he explains what he thinks of "rentier capitalism“ which socialises the risk factor. He describes the refusal for permission for Andreas Siekmann's merry-go-round round the Golden Rider as "a touching testimony of traditionalism", says "from the SED to ZDF", calls artists "neo-liberal tamagochis" and laughs about the way marketing departments believe that artists' main aim is publicity. He shows us monumental plans by an architect to rebuild Dresden after the war.

In the evening we gather for gulash soup. Geert van de Camp and I hear about the thinking behind artists' self esteem in socialism: if socialism had achieved the productivity levels required to allow the workers to have more free time, socialism thus becoming communism, then sport and art would have had their day. Artists stood for this perspective and had to be looked after. Professor Rehberg described a survey he did in Dresden 10 years ago: artists were convinced that their profession would have no future relevance for society.