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Who decides what? The Hague candidate Cultural Capital of Europe 2018?

| 2012-10-24 11:34:10

Who decides what?
Artists are the mediators of the ‘unspoken’
Jacqueline Heerema, May 2012.

As the aims of The Hague for becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018 are about to be presented, I offer some thoughts to share with you.

The Hague, Cultural Capital of Europe 2018?
In the aim to become a cultural capital of Europe it is important to question ourselves: why? Why do we think being a cultural capital is important to us? Why do we want to invest ideas, time and money? What concept of our identity do we want to communicate and to who?

Culture is dynamic, it is the world we all create together. Culture is a construction of interpretations of histories, peoples, tales and beliefs. Culture is the way of expressing how we stand in life, in society and in the way we negotiate with issues that matter to us. History is adaptable to the timeframe we live in. In that sense history and culture - as a manifestation of what was, is and will be - is a timely interpretation, may even be a necessity to survive? The main question is: who manipulates what and why?

Is understanding the shaping of culture the main focus of the aim to become the cultural capital of Europe?

As Europe is an abstract concept for most people, as a conceived construct of an collection of countries, what binds these countries together? What binds the people that live in these countries together? Or in what way do we think we are different, special?

Culture is in essence questioning the why and how we negotiate between experiencing and understanding the world that surrounds us. How do we position ourselves in the context of family and heritage, roots and wishfull thoughts, even shape our future aims? Everyday we pose these questions, when we raise our childern, what believes and rituals do we install in educating the young? What stories do we tell, and in which way do we manipulate these stories, about our origines and presumed identity?  How do we connect to these issues in contact with the people that matter to us? What make-belief worlds do we instill in the young, the future generations that will follow us?

Culture, and specifically arts and artists deal with these questions. Artists negotiate between the willfullness of society or politics and the deeper urge to question cultural assumptions, we so readily adept to because they seem so obvious or convenient. Arts are not obvious, artworks may be inquisitive, non politically correct, even go against all presumed commercial objectives. Art has an obligation to focus peoples attentions on the non issues, artworks may mark even the unspoken. In that sense, does the aim to be Cultural Capital of Europe deals with questioning culture itself?

Arts also takes time, as criticial reflections on the how and why are not apt to be easilly accepted.

So be it, time will show what artworks and artists really matter, have gained and express values that we want to share with our future generations. Thoughts and ideas will take shape in their heads and help them to focus and develop their own position and concern on the issues that really matter and they chose to share with their childeren.

Also, the focus on our own town is not the main issue of a Cultural Capital of Europe. In the Netherlands 5 cities compete as candidate. Our twincity is Valletta on Malta, a small group of islands in the strategic middle of the Mediterranean. The unique sellingpoints of The Hague are sharing the sea, international law and migration issue with Malta. These major issues connect to European and global developments and may lead to interconnecting by cultural and scientific exchange of experiences and knowledge. Thus we may enhance understanding what Europe is about.

In the process of becoming Cultural Capital of Europe, to question ‘who decides what?’ is important. One approach may be to shape an interpretive community, first in guiding, hosting and exchange and maybe (if selected for 2018) for co-creating?

Culture is an ongoing process.
That is very good, considering the prospect of years of development before 2018, during and after.
JH, 2012

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