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Archive for September, 2007

The YES! Association with friends watching video work Between Communication and Reality – some Aspects on Equality

Below you can find a text about the controversy between the YES! Association and Vikingsbergs Konsthall regarding the video work Between Communication and Reality – some Aspects on Equality at the exhibition Bra konst (Good Art) at Vikingsbergs Konsthall in Helsingborg April 21 – May 19, 2007.

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Vikingsbergs Konsthall claimed that the video work – a critical investigation of the art institution’s activities from a gender representation perspective – had never arrived for the exhibition. The YES! Association suspected censorship and brought with them their own technique and screened the video for two hours.

The YES! Association was invited by Fred Andersson to take part in the exhibition Bra Konst (Good Art) at Vikingsbergs Konsthall April 21 – May 19, 2007. The background to the exhibition was a debate on contemporary art in Helsingborgs Dagblad (the daily paper in Helsingborg) earlier in the year. 14 art critics, artists and curators took part in the debate. These debaters were invited by the art institution to invite three artists each. The criterion was that the art works should represent good art. 25 artists accepted the invitation, among them the YES! Association, who submitted the new video work Between Communication and Reality – some Aspects on Equality. The video has its starting point in mail correspondence and phone conversations regarding the art institution’s programme, exhibition statistics and history from a feminist perspective. The work can be seen here.

On April 20, the day before the opening (and the day after the press preview) the YES! Association finds out that their work never arrived at Vikingsbergs Konsthall. Both the curator Fred Andersson and the YES! Association then offer to deliver a DVD to Vikingsberg in person but the institution announce that it is not necessary since there is no technical equipment available to show the work (even though they had supplied seven other works in the show with technical equipment). The YES! Association then offers to hire technical equipment and install the work themselves, if the art institution agrees to pay for the hiring of the equipment. The offer is not accepted, with the explanation that there is no money available to pay for the YES! Association’s equipment (monitor and DVD player). The YES! Association decides at this point to borrow a monitor and DVD player and travel to Vikingsberg to show their work at the opening. On April 20, a press release is sent out about this matter, available to read here.

On April 21, the day of the opening, the YES! Association and some of their co-artworkers travel to Vikingsberg in Helsingborg with their video work, a monitor and a DVD player. Once there, the YES! Association discovers that the art institution has placed the press release on a pedestal and thus presented it as a work of art. They claim that the YES! Association never sent a DVD but rather staged everything in order to create conflict, as a part of their artistic practice: ”Along the way we were struck by the thought that it never was Malin Arnell’s/the YES! Association’s intention for the artwork to arrive before the opening. Why interrupt an ongoing process consisting of phone conversations and emails, that is/ will be part of the artwork, and submit an unfinished artwork?” writes the manager of the art institution in an article later published in Helsingborgs Dagblad.

The YES! Association takes down the press release and installs the video work in the exhibition space, screens the film for an hour and then dismantle everything and prepare to go home. Before the departure one of the board members of the YES! Association approach the museum shop to receive the exhibition catalogues they were promised. First the man behind the counter says that the YES! Association is not taking part in the exhibition. Secondly he demands that the board member presents an ID to receive a catalogue (something none of the other exhibiting artists needed to do). When she refuses, a loud discussion begins between the board members of the YES! Association, the staff at Vikingsbergs Konsthall and the curator Fred Andersson. The YES! Association and Fred Andersson claim that they have been subjected to censorship while the art institution claims that the YES! Association has staged everything including the present fight as a part of their artistic practise. It is also claimed that the YES! Association has lied regarding sending the DVD. During the fight the man behind the counter yells that he has stolen the art work and that his dog has eaten it. The discussion is interrupted and the YES! Association gets ready to leave Vikingsbergs Konsthall. When one of the co-art workers is on her way out, the man behind the counter takes the opportunity to sexually harass her. She experiences this as very insulting, in particular after the heated discussion and the abuse of power that just took place. The YES! Association and their co-art workers jointly decide to report both the theft and the harassment to the police.

On April 22, following the opening, curator Fred Andersson writes an e-mail to everybody taking part in the exhibition, explaining what have just happened and urging the artists to a boycott. The only response received is from an artist writing that the YES! Association should not complain.

On May 4, the YES! Association receives an e-mail from the director at Vikingsbergs Konsthall where it is announced that the DVD has arrived. All of a sudden there is also money available for technical equipment and it is now possible to install the work. The YES! Association demands a public excuse which is never given, and therefore declines to show the work at the show.

In September 2007, the YES! Association finds out that the preliminary investigation, both concerning the sexual harassment and the theft, is closed. Vikingsbergs Konsthall has also closed down.

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  • YES! Association / Föreningen JA! was an art collective, an artwork, an association, an art worker, an institution, a group of people working to overthrow the ruling system of heteronormative, patriarchal, racist, and capitalist power structures by putting into practice a structural redistribution of access to financial resources, space and time within the (art) field.
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