Youtube activism

For years now, Dutch art institutes are struggling in an attempt to close the gap between the white dominant art scene and other cultures in the Netherlands. Cultural diversity however, seems to be like kryptonite for museums and besides the Stimulation Prize for cultural diversity by the Mondriaan Foundation nothing much has happened in the big art institutes.

This month however, Bregje van Woensel – curator at the City Art Museum of Rotterdam – published an interesting article in Metropolis M, the largest Dutch art magazine. The article deals with subversive video clips by Dutch-Marroccan, Turkish and Antillian rap artists. These controversial videos – they even led to debates in the Dutch parliament – are sometimes much alike American gang videos. They look aggressive, use the neighbourhood as backdrop and deal with racial issues. Most are banned from music stations on televisions, but they are immensely popular on youtube.

Appa feat. Naffer – Schuif aan de kant (move over)

In doing so, they touch upon the most important issue in the multicultural conflicts we face today: emancipation. I have noted before in reviews on MSLM magazine and El HEMA that many of today’s attempts in art to deal with intercultural conflicts fail to properly address the issue of emancipation. Despite the cultural exchanges and collaboration they establish, they still remain Dutch initiatives, Dutch models and Dutch solutions to problems that are only partly Dutch. The solution starts with Marroccan, Turkish etc communities to make up their own identity: being Marroccan, Muslim and Dutch in the same time.

This is a Herculean task and we – white Dutch community – generally fail to recognize this. The videos clips Bregje van Woensel discusses in her article are interesting in this regard. They are expressions that come from within these communities and amplify their feelings and frustrations; they have soul. They also prove the problem of the Dutch projects mentioned above that tend to cover up these feelings and consequently create a naive image of different communities happily living together and joyfully exchanging their cultures. (I don’t want to burn down these projects… I think they make a very valuable attempt from the Dutch community to find solutions to multicultural problems and their charming positivity is a welcome sound in a public debate, which is lead by xenophobia, misunderstandings and prejudices. I merely want to point out some pitfalls…)

The quality of the video clips of artists such as Salah Edin, Appa and Naffer, and Kempi lies in the fact that they are genuine and come from within the community, they are emancipating and create music and images that youngsters identify with, and they provide a platform for feelings of frustration, fear and anger that live in these communities.

Ps. The video clip ‘Het land van’ was made by Eelko Ferwerda, a fantastic young film maker from Rotterdam:

Salah Edin – Het land van (The land of)

Please, more of this good stuff!


1 Response to “Youtube activism”

  1. 1 Anonymous October 15, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    great blog my friend.

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