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Bully Strategy, Cancel Culture and The Why-Don't-You-Invite-Me Market

  • May 12 2020
  • Misal Adnan Yıldız
    is a Berlin based curator. He was the Director of Artspace Aotearoa in NZ until June 2017. Previous to that he held the position of Artistic Director at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in Germany. He is a PhD candidate at Hafencity Hamburg. His proposals “Time Challenger” (2009) for HISK, Ghent; “There is no audience” (2009) for Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz; “Correct me if I'm critical” (2010) as a multi-venue project in Berlin for Swedish Embassy; “A History of Inspiration” (2013) for Palais de Tokyo, Paris as part of “Nouvelles vagues” (New Waves); “Mutterzunge” in Berlin for Curate Award were selected through open calls or curatorial competitions and manifested.

A Late Morning 

It was in Paris when they saw that Roman Ondak piece for the first time, a note on a string hanging with capitals: DEADLINE POSTPONED UNTIL TOMORROW. Then, they asked themselves whether there was another version of it: TODAY IS CANCELLED. They once missed their Pre-Internet brain again, everything was used to be much more organised there. Now every cell seems to be connected to the Internet, since so long, but also to the junk. This was the mood of the day, week and the previous weeks: CANCEL TODAY! 

After checking their feed, they stopped at a post; they recognised that it was the second time it appeared on the screen, and when they noticed it in the morning the hangover was the winner. Finally some other people might be also revisiting this text. AI with us was remembering unresolved cases from the past for a better immune. To start a day in Neukölln mostly means first a walk with coffee at the Feld. Today is still too cold, or not in the mood again... They made coffee. They mostly drink coffee black. Today, they added some soy milk and brown sugar. 

Twitter nowadays is more fun reading. Another tweet to send to their curator friend:

#Hamburgerbahnof #udokittelmann What’d a museum wall tell us? Berlin is home to 250k Turks/Kurds as largest community outside. No Berliner from Turkey was ever nominated for Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst since2000 #nevinaladag #vironerolvert #ahmetogut #mehtapbaydu”

There was a picture of a wall with the chronological order of the candidates from the last 20 years, and yes, there was no one from Turkey. They went online to Google those names. Artists related to the Turkish context. Some they know. Vert. Der Sling mit Gebetsteppich ist geil. The next was a cynical one. In a hot-collector’s car with leopard print car seats, some Kunstverein Directors were posing and a hearted “BFF” emoji was just pasted on their faces with some useful information: “#Germany approved two arms sales to #SaudiArabia in the first six months of the year, worth a total of €831... according to #Economy #Ministry figures. #meanwhile #german artjetset on #researchtrip” 

They saved only the image from the last Tweet, They kind of felt for the Global Princess of the Art World on the Vogue cover. She was hot. Her face has a curious look but with a very deep meaning in her eyes… Le mal de vivre but also euphoria. She is interesting... Maybe she would be up for a non-binary experience? They already started daydreaming… In the Middle of Sahara…      

They just came back to reality with the ring of the phone. The melody of Ultimate Connection for Now. Ah! It is the Curator Friend who received all on Twitter and now wants to talk over… It was all about the petition organised against the Grand Duke of the German Art. It was dicksoup on the menu again. They hated these white men who think that they know everything. The petition was for him talking bullshit at an artist talk event while he was in conversation with young generation prize winners, and an artist who was also a panelist got offended. They remembered him from years ago. It is still such a clear picture with him dancing at Karlsruhe after a symposium with few other curators and artists. At that time, the dude looked fun and opa-cool.


Curator Friend: 

I do not know whether we can approach him with our current contemporary dynamics of sociality. You know he still sends handwritten postcards. He is very sweet. I don’t think he was aware of the fact that anyone at any time can become a target of political correctness, or facebook activism, or anything! Anything that circulates, goes public, or transports today will definitely hit into these new filters. Some of these filters are critical. Also the young generation is totally into it. They are organised. They are moving collectively. They are fun. So, there is no chance to win over them. I talked with him on the phone in the morning. He is sad. Apologetic. He lost his partner some time ago. Most probably, he realised much later that going into a podium discussion on a few drinks was not  a great idea at this time of the day. I got pretty sad for the artist. I am sure she would have liked to receive the prize with a meaningful discussion or celebration event. Is any one doing something for her?


I am sure that she will get a few residency and biennial offers this week. You know content-but-always-contemporary people suck. Scandals are okay for big guys in the art world, or only function for more establishment?  

Curator Friend:

I don’t think she will. But… Fuck you!


Sometimes They annoy friends with a blunt tone. They thought to make a carrot cake for later to bring to the curator friend. He was sweet, but also annoying with his interior never ending patience, understanding and empathy for his contemporary art people. With everything, even your mother, cat or lover, it needs a critical distance. 


An Early Afternoon 

Some time passed and they found themselves thinking of him. Why? What is it going on in my head? They did not know why but all day long later they could not get the petition out of their head. Few years ago, a tall lady that they used to support during her transition started to yell at them and later a stranger who was influenced by her hate speech spit at them at a party. It was about an unfortunate night when the police raid scared them and they thought they helped their friend. They felt guilty for days, weeks and months. They knew that they did not mean to damage their friend. The police were already there in the building. They did not want the police to get aggressive. They went inside the room, and brought the passport, they were really scared that they would harm their friend. How could they know that the decision of bringing that passport to the police will change their lives forever. They now even do not want to touch anyone's passport. 

After that night, they became the target of the gang. They were the family first. They lived together. They danced together. They cooked together; they slept together. Now they were the gang against them. They excluded them from conversations, did not let them use the kitchen or bathroom, finally managed to kick them out from the house. The gang was pretty organised. They managed to cancel their contribution from an event that they were going to take part after the poster was released. They wrote hateful and hurtful posts about them on social media. They did not know what to do when their own community judges, decides and penalizes their own members without listening… There was no fair hearing. They still do not know. 

What a Nice Evening 

The cake was ready. They took the cake to an actress friend after she sent them a nice message to catch up for a drink. 


Actress friend: 

Gay people are the most hard core. They are the biggest gay police. I mean for both man and woman, gay. You know me. I am gay too. But like… Wtf! People become cops for each other to decide who is more ethical than others… I do not know… It makes me sad to see people doing what they criticise at the others and enjoy their guilt pleasure, constantly a game between each other. Ay, let’s change the topic. Are you symptoms-free?  


No, because I am a professional cough-er. I have smoked for years and I cough every morning. Now I can not go on any date. If I will cough, or sneeze, it will end. This will end everything. When did you have good sex last time? No, great sex?  

Actress friend: 

You mean on the stage or real? I read that it is the virus who needs to decide whether it wants to get spread over more places, people and bodies, or go deeper, kill better and take over, but less bodies... Interesting… It is like us and our relationships. Are we becoming our predators? 


They were walking home. They were alone. They just felt for another drink and changed the walk towards their favorite bar. Then, they got in and immediately wrote “NO BULLY” on the window, which was misted over. The temporality of the water drops were really nice. The artist friend was inside. He started to talk as he was never going to finish. 


Artist friend:

These are symptoms. For instance, there is this ongoing position for being the victim. They are always the victims. For whatever happens, God sake. They are used to get every grant through the articulation of how they are victimised. 


You mean they fuck with White Shame.  

Artist Friend:

White Guilt. White Shame. White Whatever.  White SM. Secondarily, they become very close to anyone 5 min after meeting them. Hi, Hans! Bye, Klaus! What’s up Udo!


Now ice-cream'd be good… You mean they deserve each other? 

Artist Friend: 

What?  Whatever… Third, they don’t produce art, they are always busy with applications. Applications take forever, and after the excel file for the project is confirmed, the next one starts.  


I think the institutions should be more critical, responsible and selective. Through their collector, one can become a blue chip gallery artist overnight and sell out the hot-critical content to the Hungry Museum that wants immediate headache pills. 

Artist Friend:

They are stuck within the same social circles, and also that key sentence: Why don’t you invite me?  


Sounds very colonial. 

Artist Friend: 

The beginning of the story was a bit different. There still felt a room for politics, commons and a new language for art. Who would say that we would find ourselves like Alice at the Wonder Gardens of the Oligarchy. In the old days, there was still a bit of hope, I mean with the educational turn, new institutionalism, radical curating; we got excited. There felt a bit of necessity to bring the critical inputs into this scene. Feminists, queers, decolonising experiments and ecological thoughts were invited… What we felt softly and nicely was only the honey on the finger of Neo-Liberal Wave? Early 2000’s… Everything that looked new, experimental and alternative is now very established, mainstream and…  


You mean like Spotify? 


A Beautiful Dawn

On the way home, they were happily drunk and were still thinking about the beer in their bodies. It seems that it is not possible to differentiate our bodies from our geographies… What we do to our lands, waters and air and what we do to our bodies are both interconnected. Excluding by including, or including by excluding. Or, acceptance, understanding, reflection.  That night, they finally slept like a baby after days, weeks and months. They had a dream. They had an orgy with all the trans-non binary-queers, queens and kings, guys next door, sugar babes and daddies, otters and chasers… lovers of the planet. There were red, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple chi coming out of every one. Oh no! Also some indigo, turquoise, violet… It really felt warm, so warm… Everyone was kissing each other and touching their bodies with love, passion and intimacy…. 



"THEY" appeared in print issue 11, "Faux Culture" 

    Meme by Kasra Rahmanian



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