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Edwin Stolk ☰

behind closed doors

May 2015

Early 2015 I witnessed a call for artists living in Utrecht to participate in the group show: Under Control. Location for this exhibition was the former prison at Wolvenplein in Utrecht. When I understood that an artist fee is missing and in combination with the theme of control, I decided to write a proposal. An expert jury from the field of the arts selected my performance.

After this selection this was my message:

Dear civil society, as artist and founder of #theorganisation (2011) I would like to meet you behind closed doors.

The infrastructure for our meeting is supplied by UtrechtDownUnder 2015 in the form of a prison cell. I look forward to share with you the necessity and discuss the possibilities for visual opposition in today's society of control.

I would like to explain the end of art as we know it today and why a shift to the operative notion of the commons is necessary. When we activate and unite individual expertise, alternative visualizations can be realized to influence dominant norms.

By making an appointment you confirm that the information we share Behind closed doors is strictly confidential.

It was possible to make an online appointment with me in the prison. A week before the opening I was told that visitors had to pay a ticket of 6 euro to enter the show. This limited my possibilities to meet people several times in my cell.

While having conversations in the prison I found out that the organizers: Kunstliefde, had to pay a tremendous amount of rent and the costs for security in this empty prison. Kunstliefde didn't knew this beforehand and even needed a guarantee from the municipality of Utrecht and therefore they took a big financial risk.

While this prison was waiting for a buyer the Central Government Real Estate Agency (owner of the building) played smart by giving it a temporary cultural destination. They did not only earn money by employing the artists for free and ask rent out temporary studios, but by doing so they also kept unwanted visitors out of the building by the anti squatting principle.

In an open letter to minister Bussemaker: Open space for culture and in an opinion article in Volkskrant: Commerciele terreur smoort het vrije beeld I tried to ask attention for this distressing position of contemporary art.

Behind closed doors followed the concept of #theorganisation.

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Best regards, Edwin Stolk.