The Art of Activism II

Pavlensky II

A couple of months ago I wrote the blog The Art of Activism about the intriguing activist artworks of Petr Pavlensky. Four days ago (November 20, 2013) this Russian artist made another fascinating work. While sitting naked on the cobblestones in front of the Lenin’s Mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Square Pavlensky hammered a huge nail through his scrotum affixing it to the stone pavement. He defined his act, which he called “Fixation”, as a metaphor for the current state of Russian society in the face of the Kremlin’s policies, calling Russian society apathetic and fatalist. In his statement to the media he declared:

“A naked artist, looking at his testicles nailed to the cobblestone is a metaphor of apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of Russian society.”

This action coincided with the annual Russian Police Day. When the police arrived, they covered him with a blanket and arrested him, but they could not prevent that his artwork went all over the world. Pavlensky even reached the Dutch website geenstijl. Well done Petr!




Yesterday Dutch artist Dadara gave a talk about connectedness at TedX Amsterdam. It’s a great performance. Dadara shows in a funny way how social media have changed our lives and he examines what a “like” means nowadays.

He currently also sells like notes to make it possilbe to add some like to your payment. A simple idea to question the idea of value. I do like (!) his art works, because they are accessible. He works in public space and he connects to our daily life experience.

Radicale verandering


Ruim een week ben ik inmiddels in Berlijn. Om diverse redenen vind ik de hoofdstad van Duitsland prachtig, maar vooral omdat zij verandering ademt. Berlijn laat mij zien dat  verandering altijd plaatsvindt, dat verandering mogelijk is en dat radicale verandering soms onvermijdelijk is. Dit laatste is een belangrijke les. Sinds een jaar of vijf streef ik zelf op diverse fronten streef naar radicale verandering. De twee belangrijkste zijn monetaire hervorming en het verwijderen van landsgrenzen voor mensen.

Over geldcreatie heb ik inmiddels vele blogs en een langer stuk De kunst van geldscheppen geschreven. Geldcreatie dient niet langer het privilege te zijn van commerciële banken maar onder publiek bestuur geplaatst te worden. Velen denken dat dit gezien de macht van banken onmogelijk is. Zij vergeten echter dat verandering de modus van het leven is en dat zeker in tijden van voortdurende crisis radicale verandering noodzakelijk is.

Daarnaast probeer ik al jaren samen met mijn broertje Roel, onder de naam Ardvanderlinden, de discussie over de betekenis van landen, grenzen en identiteit aan te wakkeren. Volgens ons is het concept landen de grootste veroorzaker van ongelijkheid in de wereld. Hoe kan het zijn dat dieren, kapitaal en goederen vrijer zijn dan mensen? Afgelopen week hebben we twee keer, in Berlijn en in Szczecin, op straat 195 vlagportretten geschilderd. Voor ieder land een. Een tentoonstelling in de buitenlucht betrekt toevallige voorbijgangers bij het werk en levert vaak direct discussie op.

De afgelopen jaren hebben mij geleerd dat vele mensen inmiddels weten dat radicale verandering onvermijdelijk is. De sociale, ecologische en economische crises zijn niet op te lossen met business as usual. Bestaande concepten hebben geleid tot de crises en kunnen niet gebruikt worden om haar op te lossen. De grote vraag is wanneer (jonge) mensen de mogelijkheid krijgen of nemen om de radicale verandering die zij wensen door te voeren. Of dit gaat lukken is onbekend. Berlijn laat in ieder geval zien dat radicale verandering mogelijk is.

Flag-portraits Berlin

szczecin 6

Beyond the nation state

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Recently I came across a map of flags that looked like an Ardvanderlinden work of my brother and me. Nowadays we could on the internet easily find more maps made of flags. Above a selection. I think the first person who made this kind of works was Alighiero Boetti (1940). He is famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world created between 1971 and his death in 1994.


His Mappas reflect a changing geopolitical world from 1971 to 1994. A period that included among others the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Embroidered by up to 500 artisans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the maps were the result of a collaborative process leaving the design to the geopolitical realities of the time, and the choice of colours to the artisans responsible for the embroidery. The maps delineate the political boundaries of the countries; some nations, such as Israel, are not represented because the Taliban regime of Afghanistan did not then recognize their existence. This quote of Boetti about his work is excellent:

“For me the work of the embroidered Mappa is the maximum of beauty. For that work I did nothing, chose nothing, in the sense that: the world is made as it is, not as I designed it, the flags are those that exist, and I did not design them; in short I did absolutely nothing; when the basic idea, the concept, emerges everything else requires no choosing.”

I do like Boetti’s Mappas and I find it interesting to see that flags and countries are changing; nation states are not given, they are fluid. In 2013 it is very clear that flags, countries and their borders are strictly human ideas that undermine the unity of life and are one of the main causes of inequality in the world. So, the big question is: what is beyond the nation state? What is next?

Handmade in Afghanistan

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‘Handmade in Afghanistan’ is the latest project by Ardvanderlinden (my brother and me). It’s a handmade Afghan carpet (190×295 cm); it’s partly Kelim, partly Persian carpet with the text ‘Ardvanderlinden made in Afghanistan’ (last words in Farsi).

We would like to thank Farshad Omidi-Karkani. Without his effort it wouldn’t have been possible to accomplish this project. More works to spread the message ‘ unity through identity’ coming soon.

The Art of Activism

Petr Pavlensky 2013

A couple of days ago Russian artist Petr Pavlensky made this intriguing activist artwork to protest against the legislative body (and the government) in Russia which he perceives as restrictive and repressive. He entwined barbed wire around his nude body whilst lying before the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg.

Petr 2013

One year ago Petr maybe even made a more intriguing activist artwork. He sewed his mouth together in support of punk rock group Pussy Riot. He stated:

“Sewing up my mouth, I showed the situation of the contemporary artist in Russia, living in an environment where there’s a ban on publicity, the tightening of censorship and suppression of public statements in contemporary art.”

Strong statement. Impressive art. Thanks Petr. Keep up the good work.