‘Arts and Economy’ – Stef van Breugel-Museum Hilversum

Here you can read the speech, given by Stef van Breugel, director Museum Hilversum on November 11, 2015 at the speakers’ dinner of TEDxHilversum:

‘Arts and Economy’

A friend, a young architect, lately told me about her daughter, who is six years old. ‘My daughter, she said, she wants to belong to the boys. I want to be in love with girls. And I cannot do this being a girl. When I would be a boy I think it would be easier for me to be with a girl.’

Stef van Breugel

Stef van Breugel, Museum Hilversum

I listened to my friend and said, OK that’s interesting. I reacted maybe too neutral, let’s say academic. Aren’t you surprised?, my friend-architect asked me. Oh yes I am, I appreciate your openness and the idea of sharing. But was I surprised? No not really. Being a boy and wanting to become a girl and the other way around. Not willing to choose between being a boy or girl is a matter of a more general investigation among fashion designers for over a decade. Many fashion designers do not even want to make that decision. They combine the two genders in a new kind of mix that is easily derived from their designs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the signs and signals of our time are in the contemporary art. Which is nowadays moving more and more towards media art. A great number of graduates, maybe a majority, of the Dutch art academies do a major in video-art, film or animation and choose to merge these styles with classic schools of painting, sculpture and drawing.

Contemporary art is sometimes difficult to understand. And so is our time, it is as wild water. Turbulent. Rigid. Full of conflict and contrary beliefs.

Media art translates the trends and cultural developments in our lives and society. In some way we are looking, searching for a meaning in our lives. This question is embedded in our existence. What and who do we represent? What is the reason for our existence? Who are we? We think about ourselves and want to know who we are. In our lives we sample happenings and experiences that culminate in a life that we are either proud of or disappointed about. Our lives are stories of the lost and gained loves. The friends who died too early.

Tony Oursler

Tony Oursler

Talking about media art and underlying signs reminds me of the work of Bill Viola who introduces the matter of light and religion. It also reminds me of Angela Bullock who too is searching for pre-edited systems and spaces. Isaac Julien wants to create new stories on sex and classes with his multi-media art. And not to forget Tony Oursler who sets a precedent for the future with his video installations. Earlier this year he introduced a combination of robots and video work, in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. He brings our imagination much further than the written political discussion on robots and social issues that we could follow in the written media. He constantly questions ‘what is it that the eye looks for and sees?’

Media art is free, relatively autonomous, not yet labelled or captured in boxes. What we notice in the arts now, we will integrate in our daily lives tomorrow. Not only because of the technology as such but because of the predicting power of it.

Speaking about economics and the need for vision and strategy development, we can get introduced to the newest developments through media art. It is not the only connection between media art and new businesses and start-ups. Media art is about innovation as well. Pablo Picasso once said the artist has the eye of the child, the innocent perception. That’s why he can be creative, react spontaneously, loving the experiment. The ‘innocence of perception’ is guided with a feeling of freedom and enjoyment in himselves as well. Most relevant for the innovation process is what we call the ‘beginner’s mind’. The artist loves beginning something new. More fundamentally; he mirrors the duty every human being has, which is starting anew. The artist loves getting started on something new. The white canvas, the blank paper, the empty screen: they are all waiting for a new image. A new message. In the ‘beginner’s mind’ all options are open, all chances are there. Entrepreneurs can learn from the innovative power media-art offers.

Many times we talk about thinking outside the box. Because we long for what I call context variation. A new variety in our ways of thinking, feeling and loving. The contradiction however, in the working live of an artist, is that he himself is very into the box. Passion is more a result of his working than a condition. So is his flow. They are the result of its existential doubts, his trial and error. His restlessness and discontent. Am I, what so ever, able to create something? When will there be this breaktrough? Will I ever become succesfull? Will I be seen? However. In creating new business we can learn from the media-artist when they don’t stop and continue transforming. We should invite him in our offices, board rooms and staff meetings.

Thank you very much.