Some memories of books #3

Rini Dippel (ed.) – Daan van Golden: Works 1962–1991 

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1991

First of all this book has a great cover. It shows documentation of an early Daan van Golden exhibition on semi-transparent paper, through which the artist’s name – printed on the inside of the cover – softly becomes apparent. It fits the work and Daan van Golden’s persona perfectly. Just as the rest of the exhibition catalogue, which is designed and edited with great care and love.

This book was the more in-depth introduction to Daan van Golden (1936–2017) for me. Besides the great selection of works in it, my favourite part is ‘Art is not a contest’ a statement that Van Golden read on receiving the PC Art Award on November 25th 1990, in the Amstelkerk, Amsterdam. A beautiful and humorous compilation of quotes and anecdotes that mysteriously is concluded with the words: ‘Speech is silence. Silver is gold. I have spoken.’

It is tempting to reproduce the full statement here, but I won’t. Instead I am sharing the part that found its way into a collage I did a few years ago:

Max Ernst’s father was painting a picture of his garden. He left the fence at the end the garden out of his picture. After finishing the painting he went into the garden and pulled the fence down. 

I’ve had this uncredited anecdote on my studio wall for a long time and was often reminded by it whenever the discussion was brought up on art and (social) change. Eventually I used it in a collage, where I combined it with stills from Bruce Nauman’s video ‘Setting a Good Corner (Allegory and Metaphor)’ from 1999, where we see Nauman at work, building a corner fence on his property Las Madres Ranch in New Mexico. I was just linking two contradictory yet equally appealing gestures.

Marijn van Kreij, Untitled (Daan van Golden, Bruce Nauman, Max Ernst’s Father, Setting a Good Corner, Allegory and Metaphor), 2015
Collage, book clipping, inkjet on paper and drawing paper, 29.7 x 21 cm

A few days ago I read a striking article by Aliina Astrova on ‘Where Art Belongs’ a collection of essays by Chris Kraus. Astrova writes: ‘art matters insofar as it remains a practice, not a product’. In the introduction of Daan van Golden’s catalogue Rini Dippel writes something similar about Van Golden’s acceptance speech. Its title ‘Art is not a contest’ – a quote from poet A. Roland Holst – is a message he argues: ‘It marks Van Golden’s distance from artistic thought fixed on production of a series of tangible objects.’ The beauty of Daan van Golden’s work is indeed in his all-embracing attitude, this catalogue is just one of the many reminders of this attitude.