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That piece of shit is trolling

Arguments, discussion, different opinions, negotiations. All these things are part of our life and while they can be exhausting and heated they do enrich our personal point of you as well. What we take from these encounters is usually depending on our own mindset. While I am able to apply the teachings of mindfulness for most of the time you should not deny one thing: there are some people who just want to piss you off. For real.

I am not talking about ignorant question or the lack of ambition to inform yourself. It might be annoying but I am not upset by it. I am talking about straight up dipshits who fucking shit talk right in front of your face and wait for your reaction. Hoping they can start a vicious circle where the two of you can piss each other back until somebody starts tearing up and one stand triumphantly enjoying the victory. That dear reader is the point where I lose it and forget my mindfulness and zen. These people came to the wrong neighborhood. I won’t be the one tearing up.

As a matter of fact I have to say that I am simply not there yet to overcome my anger and investing some serious time to open a dialog with a person who openly wants to upset me, in order to find a reason for his/her terrible attitude. Not there yet, working on it. So far my most convenient strategy was to explain that person very calm and clear that if he/she pisses me off, I will fuck them up big times. It usually sends the signal that their current behavior is not ok.

That might be kind of (but in fact not really) acceptable in your private space. While  at work and in any other situation in public space I was semi-force to find a way to handle these people differently. Trust me it is hard and in my eyes less efficient, but I need to pay my rent. Here are 4 methods how not to enter the spiral of insulting each other and giving the troll what it wants.

Repeat their shit

Repeat very detailed what they just said as if you want to make sure that you got everything right. End the summary with the rhetorical question if this is their serious opinion / proposal / question.

Expose their shit

I usually experience these encounters when I am in public or with a group of friends. When I repeat their shit I make sure others hear it and are aware of the crap that is going on. Well it only works if you have the feeling the environment is in your favor and generally sharing your point of views.

Question their shit

What is their damn point? Ask them what they expect from such a statement.  Point out the contradictions and explain where the bullshit lies within. Most contradictions I encounter are

  • expressing an opinion but not accepting the opinion of others
  • asking for tolerance by insulting others
  • potentially opening a conversation by being disrespectful

Explain why their shit is shit

Make perfectly transparent why you think the statement was shit. Whether it is racist, sexist or simply uncalled for because the person is crossing a line. Express the impression that you – emphasize on the fact that it’s your subjective opinion only – have from that encounter.

Make them understand that you know exactly what they are trying to do right now and why your refusal of dealing with this crap has nothing to do with being anti-social or a coward. It’s just the fact that there has never been an honest intention of conversation to begin with.

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:

Artist are no gods and should be hold 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 seperate 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, artist 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 admires of art think that nor should artists themselves. During my time at the art university and 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 explaination 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 occured me when I witnessed an artist yelling at a lady at the museums. The latter refused to aknowledge the artist’s presscard 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 poeple 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 agressive 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 critisize 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.

 

Not my friends

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I do love my friends with all my heart and I am usually excited to meet their friends as well. For most of the time I get along with them very very well and it enriches me on many levels. I tend to believe that interesting people enjoy each others company.
However, this is not always the case. On very rare occasions I get reminded that disappointments come in all shapes.

While I do value my friend’s company hanging out with their crowd can be a pain in the ass – for different reasons. Not having the option of simply leaving or avoiding interaction with people you are not connecting with sucks balls. You are forced to deal with the situation and being forced is something I hate.
Embracing these situation is a lesson I had to learn after being extremely rude and anti-social on several events. Apparently taking your book and sitting on the balcony all by yourself while everyone is playing games is not the most respectful way.

  1. Realize that there is something good in these people even though all you can see is a disappointing existence. Find it and focus on it.
  2. Remind yourself that it’s not about you but about your friend. It’s their day and this is why you are here in the first place.
  3. Find the most interesting person and try talk with them.
  4. Find a safe place where you can re-treat when shit gets too much in order to rant with your other friends. Make an exit plan if needed.

Be honest

I won’t lie here: I have very high standards when it comes to my environment. My time is simply too precious to be wasted on people I don’t like. In the past I had several situations where I realized that my friends are hanging out with people I am not connecting with and it is very hard to say: “Sorry, but I don’t like your friends.” Being nice has nothing to do with faking affection. There is no need on lying to your friends and it should be in your and your friends’ interest to have a foundation of honesty and trust. Use kind words to explain them, that you don’t enjoy being around these people while underlining that you are happy that your friend is happy with them.

However sometimes nice words are not doing their job and your friend might feel offended or hurt, because their peer group is not good enough. Well that sucks because their friends are indeed not good enough but they should kind of get over it and stop inviting you to their crap sit ins or bring them to your parties.

I usually say that I am sorry, because I truly am. I wish these people would be less disappointing, but here we are. What should we do. If your friendship is strong you will find a way and get over it. If not and your friend keeps pushing these people on you well knowing that you don’t like them: Is that person really your friend?

I take selfies in museums. Sue me.

After additional reflection on the entire question on “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 on 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 are 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 similiar conclusion: The average time spent in front of art work 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 awstrucked 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 priviledge 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 for ever.

Say Cheeeeese!

Public Transport: The Impossible Challenge

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by giphy.com

I fucking hate people in public transport. There is no other way to describe it: Most people in the subway are making me furious and I almost forget my inner peace and all that mindful breathing and shit and I would love to yell the crap out of them.

BUT I DON’T
because you know violence is not an option and I am trying to be a better person and all that stuff.

However, I would like to discuss what exactly is problematic in public transportation. Whether people are blocking the way, talking loud or pushing others in the train : Most cases are caused by utter mindlessness and that is what upsets me the most. To me it is very frustrating since I am usually struggling between bursting into a rant or medidating my angry ass down while others obviously don’t give a single fuck about their behavior. ZERO.

Here are the Top 10 of people in public transport that upset me starting with things I can kind of understand to things I have zero sympathy with :

  • #10: Regular drunk people
    Ok, they usually don’t upset me and just make me sad.
  • #9: Smelly people
    Whether it’s due a very bad snack choice, alcohol, personal hygiene or health condition. I usually understand it and simply find me another place to stand/sit.
  • #8: People sharing their argument with the entire train
    I do have some little understanding for it because sometimes you are just very emotional and you can’t keep it down. However, after 20min you should try to find a better place to solve your situation.
  • #7: Drunk party people
    Ok, I get it. You want to have the time of your life and this is why you chuck down cheap booze. Fine, I’ve been there too. Just make sure you don’t bother others too much.
  • #6: People taking serveral seats for no reason
  • #5: People sharing their music with the entire train
  • #4: People blocking in the way by standing
  • #3: People blocking the way by walking slow AF
  • #2: Big (school) groups because they are pretty much a mix of everything
  • #1: People who are pushing

Among these things you have different motivations and reasons. While some things occour out of simple unawareness or conditions that you just can’t change (I would say that applies to #10 – #6) others were based on a selfish decision. In the following I would like to explain what exactly my problem is with my top 5.

Sharing your music with the entire train

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I get it. You are either in the belief that your taste in music is some kind of unique cultural experience that has to be spread or you need attention. Whatever it is for that moment you are placing your own needs above the needs of everyone else in the train. This is selfish. I highly doubt that anyone is unaware of the volume of their music if they turn it on fullblast without headphones. Like bitch pls.

Blocking the way by standing

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by giphy.com

It’s just straight up mindless. Most people I have encountered were not blocking the way because they decided to do so or because they are mean. I am talking about the ones who get in the train, stop there immidiately so everyone behind them can’t get inside. I am usually not judging the individual person but the fact that they fail to have a look around them sucks. My wish is people could realize that it’s not enough just to look after yourself. After all it’s a shared space and mindfulness is important. I don’t think it’s too much to say: “Hey, I am not the only person using public transport. Let’s make sure others get in as well.”

Blocking the way by walking slow AF

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Get in the train or get out- easy as that. I have no understanding for people who have to do a million things during that process. To make this clear: I am not talking about people who are slow due health conditions. I am talking about people who are trying to extend a conversation while getting out or people who are sucked up into their phone screens and try to read a buzzfeed article while getting in or any other activity that is slowing down their pace.
GET IT TOGETHER! It’s a.) careless and b.) affecting everyone behind you. Some people need a seat due health condition, some really need to get that train and can’t wait for you to finish whatever dafuq you are doing. Again it’s about you placing your own needs above the needs of everyone else around you. Thank you for nothing.

Big groups

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by giphy.com

Just sum up the stuff above.

Pushing others

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by giphy.com

So listen, I am probably just as pissed as you are but dammit I get my shit together and don’t physically attack others ok? So dafuq is your justification for using violence instead of words?! Like no. Just no.

I am a really angry woman but even I avoid pushing people as good as I can. Before I get too angry I try to convince myself that each and every anoying situation is due unawareness. On good days I talk to the people, explain my impression and hope for a compromise.
Sometimes you just don’t have the energy or nerves for mindful interaction and that’s ok. On bad days I try to make the train ride less shitty by listening to music or focus on something nicer.  Is the situation really worth ruining my entire day? I doubt it.
There is a difference between embracing your anger and clinging on it. While I do accept the legitimity of my bad mood I also focus on the fact this anoying situation will be over at some point.

Cherish your exit of that train, maybe curse but you made it without getting into a fight! DOPE!

The right approach on art

A Comment

During my stay in Finland I managed to visit the HAM (Helsinki Art Museum) and see Yayoi Kusama’s solo show at some point. The exhibition was recommended by a friend and I have seen many pictures of the show on social media already. I knew very little of Kusama at that point since I have only seen documentations of her early performances during a photography exhibition at the TATE. Even now I would not consider myself as an expert on her body of work either.

Main reason why I am writing this comment is an online article published on Dazed Digital (original article here) that I came across with this morning. During a show in LA a visitor broke one of Kusama’s squash sculptures while trying to take the perfect picture in her infinity room – which led to a ban for photography in general proposed by the artist herself.

While I do agree that damaging an art piece is highly disrespectful and also very stupid if you did it for the sake of a private picture, I got very surprised by the comments to the Facebook post of Dazed and Confused Magazine (here). I should have been aware that reading user comments on Facebook is upsetting in the first place but here we are.

Many users made nasty and patronizing comments about how people like that specific visitor are not approaching art the right way. One person stated:

“ART IS MEANT TO BE EXPERIENCED NOT A FUCKING BACKDROP TO YOUR INSECURITIES!”

I know that I am overthinking things right now since I doubt that any of the users ever cared for Art education or communication of Art (Kunstvermittlung). After spending my weekend at Hamburger Bahnhof and discussing about ways to approach art with children I perplex on how conservative admires of contemporary art can be.

What is wrong about taking a selfie?

So first of all I want to make clear that I think the act of mindlessly taking pictures is annoying as well. Rather than looking with your own eyes people choose to quickly take a picture instead. Got it. Agree. However, should we not be thankful that the people made it into the museum in the first place? Who gives you the right to tell others how to look or experience art?

The idea that art is solely for the self-proclaimed intellectuals and excluding people who do not fulfill their standards is making me sick. Does this mean I am not supposed to see the show because among different aspects I enjoyed the aesthetics of Kusama’s work the most?

While my own personal approach on art might be more similar with the one of the intellectuals I do have many friends who are not familiar with or used to the museum space. For them taking a selfie in front of a famous painting is their way to enjoy the visit and I am glad they have fun.

The idea that there is a right and a wrong way to approach art is based on the fact that each and every person perceives the surrounding in the same way, which is bullshit on so many levels. Every visitor is an individual and has their own way of dealing with the exhibition. Children will probably deal with these yellow glowing squashes differently and enjoy other aspects than an art student. Neither of their approaches is better or worse.

“those people are useless!
they don’t fucking know that her artworks are the result of a real anguish pain she used to experience since she was young..

just stop the use of phones inside”

If standing in the infinity room taking a selfie makes me aware of the beauty and atmosphere of this installation, why should I not take my phone inside? If being a cool backdrop is all I can take from that art work, what is so bad about it? At least I did make it to the exhibition and I did support the museum and artist. What exactly is making your approach better than mine?

As an art student myself I can say that most of the people will not understand your art piece the way you see it anyway. Knowing the biography of the artist and the circumstances of a piece will help you appreciating it but I doubt that your interpretation is exactly what the artist meant. Therefore it is not more valid or justified than any other interpretation.

“Makes you wonder, what people actually go to exhibitions for… The selfie/image, or for the exhibitions itself.”

“Neither. It’s all for attention. Even being at that location is for attention. There is no interest in anything else but vanity.”

Patronizing comments of the self-proclaimed intellectuals are a sign of the problematic class-thinking, believing that some people are worth more than others. It is very ironic that admires of Kusama, an artist who embraced diversity and had troubles with conservative values herself, cling on such an outdated concept. But then again, we live in a time where street art is placed in museums and former criticizers of capitalism such as Yayoi Kusama herself are now working with the fashion industry.