You don’t spark joy

Über Hannes Soltau und seine Meinung zu Marie Kondo

Etwas verspätet öffnete ich die Sonntagsausgabe des Taggesspiegels und sah die Frau, die aktuell überall zu sehen ist: Marie Kondo.

“Does this spark joy”, höre ich irgendwo aus meiner Erinnerung und las die Unterschrift: ZWEI MEINUNGEN Ein Pro & Contra zum neuen Aufräumhype.

Na das wird klingt schon spannender, sagte ich mir und blätterte auf Seite 3. Ich habe aufgehört zu zählen, wie viele Menschen mir insgesamt das Buch von Marie Kondo empfohlen haben. “Es hat mein Leben so verändert”, versuchten Freundinnen es mir anzudrehen. Als dann die Netflix Serie erschien, hätte ich kotzen können. In einem niemals zu enden wollenden Strom aus Nachricht empfahl mir gefühlt jeder die Konmari Technik. I get it, your fucking socks are folded.

Ihr seht, ein Fan bin ich beim Besten willen nicht. Aus diesem Grund war ich umso neugieriger eine Meinung zu lesen, die ebenfalls den Aufräumhype kritisiert. Zu meiner Enttäuschung wurden keine Glücksfunken in mir entfacht und ich frage mich, ob ich die Zeitung hätte begrüßen sollen, bevor ich sie las.

“Und [meine Oma] hätte auch Marie Kondo geliebt. Allein wegen des eingefrorenen Dauerlächelns, um das herum jegliches menschliche Mienenspiel unter einer zentimeterdicken Kosmetikschicht verschwindet.”

Was Soltau in seinem Text zusammen kratzt, kritisiert entweder Kondos Aussehen oder irgendwelche Annahmen, die nichts mit der Konmari Technik gemein haben. Hier wird Marie Kondo mit Minimalismus gleichgestellt, weil offenbar die Zeit für Recherchearbeit nicht reichte.

Weswegen Soltau die Entsorgen von Kinderfotos und Liebesbriefe mit Konmari verbindet, bleibt nämlich schleierhaft. “Spiegeln sich darin doch Erinnerungen und Erfahrungen”, argumentiert der Autor. Ganz richtig, und diese finden in der Konmari Technik auch ihren Platz. Jeder Mensch entscheidet selbst, welche Objekte Freude bereiten und welche nicht. Sollten die Liebesbriefe Glücksfunken in uns entfachen, so müssen wir sie auch nicht entsorgen. Zu dem Zusatz des Autors, dass Erinnerungen auch dann wichtig seien, wenn sie schmerzhaft sind, kann ich nur folgendes sagen: ich brauche bestimmt kein Foto meines Stalker Ex-Freundes in meiner Schublade, nur damit ich diese Lektion fürs Leben nicht vergesse.

Ja, auch ich mag mein kleines Chaos und auch ich fühle mich in einer kargen Wohnung wie die von Kondo eventuell nicht wohl. Muss man aber so weit gehen und gehässige Kommentare zum Aussehen machen? Eh… thank you next.

In dem Sinne fasse ich halte ich diese Seite 3 der Zeitung ein letztes Mal in meiner Hand, sage “Danke” und werfe sie auf den Berg Papier, den ich so bald erst mal nicht entsorgen werde.
(Ich mag Aufräumen vielleicht nicht feiern, aber die Memes zu Marie Kondo finde ich super.)

The common mistake of overestimating your own relevance

Pinterest

As an admirer of design and poetry, I feel ashamed for reading and (occasionally) agreeing with these cheesy pictures.
The quotes have the poetic quality of fortune cookies, are poorly designed and popular on Tumblr. No matter how blatantly trivial the statement is: Sometimes they fit very well.

When taken for granted people often experience a lack of appreciation. Their kindness and care have become a standard while the work and effort behind are left without credit. Obviously, this imbalance is problematic and will lead to conflict sooner or later. Whether this is reminding on an ex-partner, a former friends or even family member: The motivation to support people shrinks drastically in the face of ungratefulness.

It’s weird. With autumn being around the corner and the weather growing colder I found myself becoming harsher as well. As if trying to compete with the trees shedding their leaves, I am eagerly cutting people out of my life. The last weeks have been undoubtedly tough but the stress helped me to open my eyes. Some people are straight up shit. Like so shit that I have really no reason for keeping them in my life.
The story in short: While I made an effort to support these people as good as I can, I did not have the impression of gaining much of the friendship apart from disappointment, weak excuses and empty promises. I am currently struggling with many things at once and I do not have any energy to spare. Especially not for people who are hardly trying to be useful. Fuck them.
This time the overall conclusion was very very simple: Bye.
It is a practice I do on a regular basis since keeping my environment healthy is just too important. Moreover, it is a question of efficiency as well.

How dare I?

To make this perfectly clear: these cuts never come suddenly. I give warning shots on different occasions. The final decision of letting people go is always a conclusion of incidents in the past.
On good days I try to give people a fair and useful description of why I am tired of them.
On bad days I keep it very short.
On very bad days I tell them to fuck off.

Do you know that is very funny though? Sometimes people have the damn audacity to try convincing me that I do a grave mistake. As if I am about to lose something precious.

“You can always text me if you change your mind.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“It would be a shame to end things like this.”

Ok, so first of all, no. Just a big NO.

Why on fucking earth should I want to endure this attitude much longer? It is obviously god damn easy saying this from their position. You had no disadvantage from the friendship and are in fact losing a useful toy here.
It’s pretty much asking: “Yo dude, you sure you don’t want to do some emotional labour for absolutely nothing in return?” (Surprise the answer is still no.)
I fail to see what I gain from changing my mind. Where is the value of this relationship? What makes it worth all the shit?

To me, it feels as if we have two different judgements colliding here. While one party feels unappreciated, the other sees hardly a problem in the current dynamic. For them, the friendship has been functioning before and still is. Reading this choice as a mistake is oddly logical.
It does not change anything about my feelings though. No matter how much fun and laughter I have shared with people: In the end, it has little meaning to me if strangers can easily replace them. How am I supposed to make the world a better place when my well-being comes too short? It is not my job to teach people about being a good friend to me.

Displaced Trust: A painful lesson

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Photo: Jenny L.

Only a few things hurt more than a loved person letting you down. Whether it is your significant other, your best friend or even your own family: it hurts, maybe not so much physically but emotionally.

My trust does not come easily and I am sceptical towards most people. A friend who hurts you – even if it’s unintended – feels more gruesome and painful than usual. It is because we were neither prepared nor protected for this fall.
We call people friends and we keep them close for a reason. Ironically, it is that very reason why these moments leave us paralyzed.

I always thought I was a good judge of character and can see through lies. It seems that my vision gets clouded when I have invested a certain amount of trust in people. Why so? Calling somebody a friend – especially close friends – comes with many responsibilities. You tend to be more honest with each other, caring and protective. These are the differences between your friends and a brief acquaintance.

Would I call a person I just met last Sunday when I am having a panic attack? Probably not. The idea of presenting myself that vulnerable to a stranger doesn’t seem pleasant. I guess this is also one reason why therapy tends to needs some time until it progresses: Opening up to somebody we don’t know (yet) and therefore don’t trust is hard. In other words, the act of building trust in a person is a form of work by overcoming your own distrusting nature.

There is a reason why I don’t burst into tears when the bus driver was rude to me this morning. During the day I am aware that I will need some wall to protect me from unfairness. It is sad but the reality we live in. On the contrary, I had tears many times when a friend said something equally rude in the heat of a discussion.

Besides the trust and love we feel, we also see a set of expectations towards our friend. Or maybe it’s just me. I tend to assume that my friends and I have similar values. Whatever I would do for them I like to believe they would do the same for me. This concept of mirrored devotion does not work. The abilities that I have and the circumstances I’m living in are not the same as the ones my friends face. We are different and I forget about it. This concept is meant to disappoint. When you build up a set of expectations on this theory it can differ from the reality a lot.
I guess I need to look at it from a different point of view: How is the other person supposed to know the extent of my devotion if we never talked about it? Therefore, how is the other person supposed to know what I expect from them?

With that in mind, I try to recover from my current disappointment. Somewhere torn between “This just can’t be true! This is a big misunderstanding!” and “Wow, that person was my friend and did it anyway.” I try to evaluate what happened. For now, I feel that my expectations were too high and my trust not really justified. I feel stupid and I started to doubt my own judgement in the oddest moments now.

If friendship was a game then my expectations were its rules and I believed that my friends and I were both following them. Seeing it that way it reminded me a lot of the following quote from Peter Pan:

“Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. […] After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never afterwards be quite the same boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter.” ― J.M. Barrie

Uh no, being an artist does not mean you can behave like shit.

Breaking news, I know.

After a recent incident, I felt like writing this text. Continuing with the theme of demystifying the art realm I would like to phrase this very clearly:

Artists are no gods and should be held accountable for their shit.

To start this serious topic in a fun way let’s have a look at this ranking from the Ranker with the accurate headline: Artist Who Were Bad People.

It might be rooted in the fact that I study at an art school and work with artists myself that I do not see them as sacred creatures who deserve to be worshipped. Of course, I admire art and I am very able to separate my appreciation of the actual art piece and my opinion on the artist. It is not one and the same thing. An online article that is describing very well this difference between piece and person written by Charles MacGrath and published in the New York Times carrying the suiting headliner: Good Art, Bad People.

That being said, artists are able to do bad things and as MacGrath asks in his article: “Why should artists be any better than the rest of us?”

The fact that people create art should not excuse their (crap) behaviour. Neither should admirers of art that nor should artists themselves think that. However, during my time at the art university, I sadly do experience the opposite.

For many people involved in the art scene the end does indeed justify the means. “But I am an artist” is a phrase I have heard a lot. Sometimes it is used as an explanation for whatever fuckery just happened and sometimes it is some kind of legitimation for some fuckery that is supposed to come. I mean… wtf.
The idea of writing this text occurred to me when I witnessed an artist yelling at a lady at the museums. The latter refused to acknowledge the artist’s press card because it was not following the guidelines. In reply to that, the artist started shouting that “she is an established artist performing at the Berlin Biennale and that she always gets into museums for free”. The people who overheard the fact that she is an artist were looking at her awestruck as if it excused anything. At that moment I did not really care if that statement was true or not. (It is true though) She could have been Andrea Fraser herself and it would still be not okay to show up somewhere and behave as aggressive as she does now.

Since I am not an established artist myself I like to compare them to the mentors at my school. Would Hito Steyerl behave that way? Would Olafur Eliasson? What would have been their reaction when they would have been there? Is it even relevant to be an artist yourself in order to criticise one?

“I am a well-established artist performing at the Venice Biennale and I pay for my ticket because that’s what people do.” ?

Artists might do think and work differently but so do mechanical engineers and doctors. Do we grant them extra treatments? Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think that’s a thing.

To come back to the linked articles: After the incident, I researched on that artist and she did indeed perform at the Berlin Biennale on several occasions and her work is indeed fascinating. Would I see her show? Probably. Does this make her behaviour any less terrible? No, it won’t.

 

I take selfies in museums. Sue me.

After additional reflection on the entire question of “how to appreciate art the right way” I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with selfies taken within the exhibition space.

I get it. I understand that it must seem odd how some museum visitors see the act of taking pictures of the art as more important than looking at the actual art piece. As mentioned in this former post I disagree on saying there is only one true way to experience art. Today I want to discuss the potential benefits of pictures taken within an art show.

First of all I want to state that I hate the idea of art as something sacred and holy that you are not allowed to handle with normal manner. There is no choir singing in the background while I look at art and I do not have to wait until a rush of emotions is running through my mortal body because I just have been struck with a divine god given enlightenment. Calm down crazy.

Along with the critique of the – as often called – unworthy or wrong visitor comes also the critique on technology as well. Cell phones and social media are supposed to be the reason why people spent less time looking at art. An article on artsy by Isaac Kaplan from 2017 discusses the question if cell phones had an impact on how long people look at art.

These results suggest that cell phones haven’t changed the amount of time people spend in front of art that drastically. The big difference the study found was the birth of selfies—or “arties,” selfies taken with artworks, […] Two people were taking so many “arties” that they had to be excluded from the study, because they weren’t even looking at the art.

So does the act of taking selfies decrease the overall art experience? Not necessarily. If you are not like the two people who didn’t look at the piece at all, it is fine. Kaplan mentions in his article two studies by Lisa F. Smith and Jeffrey K. Smith who came to a similar conclusion: The average time spent in front of artwork was less than one minute. If you don’t live in New York and have the rare opportunity to visit the MoMA you obviously want to see as many pieces as possible instead of sitting awestruck in front of a few. Also, your body has its limit and spending 6h in a museum is tough.

That said I want to come back to selfies/arties. The fact that somebody did take a selfie in the exhibition space does not tell you how much time that person spent looking at the art. Also spending less time in front of art does not mean less appreciation either. There is no evidence to that –  apart from your personal judgemental position. As long as there is no photo prohibition there is nothing wrong with taking selfies.

I also dare to say that selfies or even #ootd in museums are a good thing. In a time where social media and influencers are big players in marketing, you have to admit that any uploaded picture is free advertisement for the artist/museum/gallery/show. It is no breaking news that many well-established institutions do struggle financially despite their high-quality art collection and I think whoever cares for museums should be thankful that these houses can pay their guards.

Promoting art institutions as an influencer is an idea that I like a lot. Art is for me, not some God-given miracle and as long as nobody violates any rules or laws I don’t see it too problematic. The expectation that you should be able to talk about art in some phoney way or need a certain level of intellect to enjoy a museum the right way is a.) pretentious and b.) excluding a lot of people. And this is a problem because art is no privilege for the elite.

Dealing respectfully with a piece of work does not mean that you are unable to use it for your own purposes – meaning I will take pictures of it as an addition for my own body of work or use it to make a point. It is needless to say that art experience in our time is not solely visual anymore. Just to name a few: Erwin Wurm, Tino Sehgal, Andrea Fraser, Pierre Huyghe and also Signe Pierce are all artists who work with pieces that demand more from the visitor. Taking selfies or pictures in general by yourself is a way experience art as well and maybe even better than solemnly stare at a piece forever.

Say Cheeeeese!