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Freethinker's Space: Continued

Art, Property of Politics IV: Freethinker's Space Continued is a project by Jonas Staal, produced by Bouadi Art Productions. It is a continuation in 5 parts of Art, Property of Politics II: Freethinker's Space. Freethinker's Space Continued is produced by Bouadi Art Productions.

  • Art, Property of Politics II: Freethinker's Space

    (2010. 'Tricksters Tricked,' Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven NL. 2011. 'Volkskrant Visual Art Priza', Schiedam, NL.)

    The Freethinker's Space is an exhibition space set up in July 2008 by the Dutch liberal party VVD and the radical right wing party of Geert Wilders, the PVV, in their offices in the Dutch parliament building in The Hague. Following some controversies like the Danish cartoon revolts, these parties felt the need to signal the growing censorship of artists in Dutch society and defend the freedom of speech. Both the VVD and the PVV identify this freedom of speech as a fundamental element in de Dutch identity. The aim of the Freethinker's Space was to provide a space and platform for artists who were affected by - primarily Islamist - censorship.

    Conflict arose when an MP of the green party GroenLinks, Tofik Dibi, challenged the PVV and VVD to broaden their notion of freedom and to also include works of art that portrayed a different political standpoint. Most notoriously, Tofik Dibi introduced a poster of the International Socialist portraying Geert Wilders on a pack of Marlboro with the warning "causes serious damage." Upon the introduction of this piece Wilder's party, the PVV, withdrew support of the Freethinker's Space. In the end, the Freethinker’s Space in the parliament offices would be silently closed during the summer recess of 2011, after the VVD entered into the coalition government with PVV.

    In 2010 Jonas Staal recreated the original Freethinker’s Space in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in the context of the exhibition Tricksters Tricked. The Freethinker's Space included works by Theo van Gogh, Gregorius Nekschot, Ellen Vroegh, Aram Tanis, Jaffe Vink, T., International Socialists, Kurt Westergaard and Gerrit van Kralingen. This Space was purchased by the Van Abbemuseum.

    Art, Property of Politics IV: Freethinker's Space Continued

    (Sept. 15 - Oct. 28, 2012. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL.)
    (Oct. 5 - Nov. 4, 2012. 'Stem Terug! Vote Back!' de Appel, Amsterdam, NL.)

    Upon learning that the Freethinker's Space recreated by Jonas Staal was purchased by the van Abbemuseum, two politicians independently called for reopening the space. These were colleague of Tofik Dibi, the GroenLinks MP Jesse Klaver and Rogier Verkroost of Democrats ’66. Jonas Staal instead invited these politicians to create their own Freethinker’s Spaces and reveal why questions of art, censorship and freedom of speech are still important today. This allowed these politicians to articulate their own focus and reveal their concept of freedom.

    One month later, Carolien Gehrels of the Dutch Labour Party PvdA worked together with Jonas Staal in order to create another Freethinker’s Space in de Appel, Amsterdam. Carolien Gehrels is the Amsterdam ‘wethouder’ (alderman) of culture in Amsterdam. By means of her Freethinker’s Space Gehrels advocates a classic social democratic concept of art, in which the task of politics clearly lies in creating conditions for the dissemination of art and culture the whole society.

    © 2012, Bouadi Art Productions