In the exhibition "Art, Property of Politics IV: Freethinkers' Space Continued", we will show, next to Art, Property of Politics II: Freethinkers’ Space (2010) by artist Jonas Staal, two new spaces curated by politicians Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks) and Rogier Verkroost (D66). In these two new Freethinkers’ Spaces, the politicians attempt to show why issues concerning art, censorship and freedom of expression are as urgent today as they were in 2008 when the first Freethinkers’ Space was opened.
When Rogier Verkroost of the Eindhoven party D66 and national GroenLinks politician Jesse Klaver came to understand that the Freethinker’s space had been purchased by the Van Abbemuseum, they suggested it should be reopened. The outcome of this discussion is Art, Property of Politics IV: Freethinkers’ Space Continued.
Programme Saturday 15 September
16:30 – 18:00 Opening exhibition spaces (free entrance)
18:00 – 18:10 Introduction by the moderator, Steven ten Thije
18:10 – 18:20 Introduction by Jonas Staal
18:20 – 18:40 Freethinkers’ Lecture Rogier Verkroost
18:40 – 19:00 Freethinkers’ Lecture Jesse Klaver
19:00 – 19:10 Reaction cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk
19:10 – 19:40 Debate between Verkoost, Klaver, Von der Dunk, Jonas Staal
19:40 – 19:55 Questions by the public
19:55 – 20:00 Closure by moderator
(Lectures and discussion in Dutch with English translation available).
Rogier Verkroost (D66) - “No Popular Culture without Frayed Edges”
Censorship is often associated with political motives to counter unwelcome messages from the public debate. But censorship has also been applied to popular culture in recent decades. This serves to protect vested interests or values of certain groups. According to Rogier Verkroost (D66) this is unacceptable, as popular culture has indeed benefited by artists who push the limits and thereby discover new things. Verkroost: “Censorship is devastating for creativity and stops new trends. Ultimately, it leads to impoverishment and conservatism. So this is my contribution to the Freethinkers’ Space. Dedicated to the cultural figures who had to deal with censorship”.
Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks) - “The Netherlands as Freethinkers’ Space”
The Freethinkers’ Space caught the imagination of GroenLinks politician Jesse Klaver. A tangible space with tangible artworks that explores boundaries: the boundaries of freedom of expression, of freedom of religion, and of discrimination. When VVD and PVV closed their Freethinkers’ Space, Klaver wanted it to continue. He did not want to limit the space to the square meters of the premises of these political parties. Why not a publicly accessible Freethinkers’ Space? Klaver: "The statement of the parties was highly paradoxical: the freedom of expression was defended - but basically only for like-minded, and in an space that does not tolerate public debate, where literally no light can enter. Democracy requires continuous dialogue and vulnerability. The other - any other - should have an equal voice. That is the Netherlands as Freethinkers’ Space”.
History Freethinkers' Space
The Freethinker’s Space was an exhibition space set up in July 2008 by the Dutch liberal VVD and the far-right PVV in their offices in The Hague as a space for art that had been affected by censorship. When the Van Abbemuseum invited artist Jonas Staal in 2010 to contribute to an upcoming exhibition, he proposed to create a retrospective exhibition of the Freethinkers’ Space. This project was subsequently acquired by the Van Abbemuseum. In the Summer of 2011, after the VVD entered into the coalition government, the original space was silently closed.