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I have been obsessing about Cloaca since I knew of it’s existence – which was precisely 3 days ago. Not that I want to get overly dramatic and Spenglerian here by screaming “Untergang des Abendlandes”*** or anything like that – but civilizations are also often defined as organisms, yes? And organisms grow old and die. And one of the signs of old age dementia, as far as I am aware, is a fascination with feces. Now, had this been something that one person had made, financed out of their own pocket as an anti-art establishment statement, it would be a different matter entirely. After all, how is this so very different from Duchamp’s urinal some may well ask? Well, the difference lies in the fact that Cloaca cost hundreds of thousands of Euro’s to build (it is a very sophisticated and complex robot) and apparently art and culture agencies world-wide were racing with one another to finance it. And now museums are lined up to exhibit it, paying colossal monthly fees (one, right here in my home town being amongst them, if what an acquaintance of mine told me today is anything to go by).

So, no, Cloaca is not one man’s brave/humorous stance against what he considers to be a rotten to the core art establishment but a direct product of that very art establishment itself. An establishment which sees art works solely as objects of entertainment and which as far as I can see, is part and parcel of a very old, very tired human race that has lost faith and direction… Sorry, I know this sounds more pessimistic than even pessimistic, but I happen to believe that this is in fact the case. I have been thinking this and feeling it deep inside my bones for a very long time anyway. Cloaca just really brought it home to me one more final time.

And in one way, this is a liberation of sorts as well: To (re)quote the Beatles – “but oh that magic feeling, no where to go…”. We are now all free to “be”. No more responsibilities. No more plans. No more big ambitions. No more big tomorrows…

I cannot give this a category as a “good thing” – obviously. It has to remain “uncategorized”. There are no categories anywhere on this blog that this would fit into.

*** I want to make it very clear that when I say Abendland, this is in no way an “anti-western” statement: We are a global culture, possibly with shades and tones of Abendland everywhere nowadays. So, one thing, at least for me, is certain: There is no more “Morgenland”. We are all in the same boat, all of us equally affected and/or equally guilty and/or innocent.

Afterthought: I have focused upon the funding of Cloaca and not the individual who made it, Vim Delvoye, since it is not so much the work itself but the system that supports it and applauds it that is an issue here. So, a thing to consider may also be whether this was not Vim Delvoye’s aim also? In other words, are he and I on the same side? We would have been, yes – IF! He had exposed the whole “thing” upon completion. Published all the budget sheets. Declared every penny, endorsement and commendation obtained from every art agency that was ever involved with this. And declared that THAT exposure had been the reason behind Cloaca. As far as I am aware he never did so. Had he done so, and if he ever does so at some point in the future, then yes. We will be on the same side.


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