Caveat is a collective research project initiated by Jubilee, reflecting and acting on the ecology of artistic practice. Emptor continues along the methodology and efforts of Caveat. It actively applies the practice-based approach to 'property', a concept that highly defines the economy of visual arts.

Report of Caveat Reading Room #5: The Logic of the Collection

00:00 Intro by Ronny & Florence On Eté 78, filantropic, non commercial space by Olivier Gevaert & his wife. They develop project together with the artists for which the artists are remunerated. It comes from his interest as a collector to engage differently with artists.

Introduction roundtable

People present: Jesse van Winden

Katrien Reist

Ronny Heiremans

Frank (from Robbert & Frank)

Florence Cheval

Lola Martins-Coignus

Kobe Matthys

Stijn Van Dorpe

Maxime Gourdon

Clémentine Vaultier

Tobias Van Royen (Twee-eiige Drieling)

Meghana Karnik (research fellow with Harlan Levey Projects)

Katleen Vermeir

Greg Nijs (Composite - Dramaturg Caveat)

Wouter De Raeve (curator - artist)

Julie Van Elslande

Hans (visual artist)

Robbert (from Robbert & Frank)

Jens Van Lathem (Twee-eiige Drieling)

Koen Berghmans

Caszimir Cleutjens

Stijn on his choice of the text. Comes from the interest in the space Eté 78 as a collector's space. Groys' perspective is interesting, because of his background in USSR, which explains his distant view/perspective on the arts system.


Stijn cites from a text that he wrote on Groys' text. 'Collective focus' as opposed to individualist focus typical for western art history. 'New alternative spaces for the arts'

11:00 -12:45 Stijn cites from an interview with Groys "...making alternative art much more interested in searching for new spaces for art and new political spaces....'


35:00 Stijn on why he picked this text Groys doesn't judge the system - he merely reflects on the art space from a distant perspective it is strange how he doesn't include the structuring of the contemporary collection through the art market and institutions A document that can be interesting for us to reflect on the art space today. Connecting the dream of the avant-garde to the collection: the museum collection as a model of society. The text is very much about autonomy. Art cannot according to Stijn be made out of the art space.

How to relate to the approach of a modern collection as pluralistic? On difference between state collection and more commercially driven collections Also in a private museum, a state policy has an effect Maxime: Text functions as an analogy for the present-day art system, with art events etc where is selected/foregrounded as new.
Julie: The function of an art space has changed, for instance in the case of Eté 78, where the environment around the institution is included in its operations. Olivier: links and network are more important. I'm trying to think more about the content of these networks. Cites Groys: "The structuring of this space is executed through the collective work of expansion and transformation of the collection in which artists as well as curators, private collectors, gallerists and critics take part on an equal basis." It's really not like this, and that is exactly what we're trying to work on with Eté 78.

1:02:00 Julie: How about the link between logic of the collection and the audience it attracts? Olivier: Those links aren't really established or shared - references the existing institutional networks in Belgium. At Eté 78 we try to see this on a 'street level', relating to the microcosm closeby. Kobe: How can we say about the contract in this respect? Julie: What kind of relationships underlie the collection?

1:05:00 Olivier: ... Julie: What change can be observed? Olivier: I try to link it more to the outside, yet the more we grow the more it's linked to the collection and the inside. The more successful we become, the more the visitors are bankers. Maxime: Maybe you should close down the place, or leave it to someone else. Katrien: It's the mechanism of the art world eating everything that's alternative. Alternative space as a career opportunity. Julie: Getting into the collection is a possibility to change the collection

1:08:00 Stijn cites Groys on social spaces and networks: when Groys speaks about innovative ways of making art he speaks about new spaces, new ways of producing, new ways of distributing

Ronny: New social relations through art practice? The collection <-> the political: this is a very important aspect - these days 'neoliberalism' is eating the instrument

How to change the system from the inside - maybe it is important to change the art space to confront the usual visitors with something else than 'art' in itself - Olivia: ask the bankers to bring their accountant Katrien to Olivier: What is your conversation with people who are not from the art world? Olivier: The invitation of Stijn in the collection is one step in the direction of opening up the space to a different kind of art work - Stijn is taking the 'risk' of connecting the surrounding to the space and reflecting on the 'art world' mechanisms in a micro-environment. Using Eté 78's environment as a model for thinking about other ways of sharing.

1:17:00 Tobias: In a neoliberal era, we're branding things more than naming them.

Greg says we should stop 'overthrowing the system - Groys refers to churches and palaces, the perspective for changing the art dynamics is very pessimistic if we compare them to those. On all levels there are a lot of dialogues going on (contemporary - / with the past). Who is us? who is it up to to change things? It is not up to the modern, contemporary 'us' to define the future? Narration towards new prospects is lacking. The text is a movement between modern and post-modern.

1:23:00 Julie: What could we do from inside the artworld to influence? Greg suggests to use speculative narration as a mode of influencing the contemporary scene. Greg: Let go of the -isms, make different kind of connections, the notice of the interstice as condition to articulate. Interstices!

Katrien: The strong interdisciplinarity of many artistic practices is a very important and strong aspect in creating a new 'social space'. interdisciplinarity of current practices is where we escape the art. This is the only way the 'content' aspect of works becomes crucial. It's about content, and finding your peers. It doesn't matter then if it's art. Since we have real issues to deal with. A new generation is looking at the abundance that we are surrounded with and asks what we are dealing with. Greg: Abundance without limits in a post-modern epoch is not sustainable. Postmodernism today seems very cynical: the collapsing of the signifier and the signified, as if there is no materiality of things, no sourcing of that materiality somewhere causing all kinds of labours on the other side of the world. Katleen: What I see changing now: power structures behind musuem are becoming more visible and open. The metropolitan museum is the only one that acknowledges that they have a problem with funding and secular money. Relating to pharmaceutical industry. Plans to cut this kind of funding, while before the notion could still be that money is neutral, business as usual. More often money is being considered as neutral, even if it comes from corrupt companies. This shows that some things are changing. These days, lots of collections benefits the rich. But the power structures underlying the formation of collections should be addressed. We already see these changing bit by bit, so according to Kathleen things are going in the right direction. 1:28:00 Katleen: This change in perspectives on power relations is very important to me. Collections will change. We have to talk about power structures and political relations. Katrien: If Serpentine needs 'evil money' to keep there space open and free for everybody, we should consider it a zero operation. A point where the loop is disfunctioning. The walls of these museums will break down. Katrien: We don't need the apparatus anymore to reach a public or create another social space. This is not far away anymore. Ronny: We're not breaking the system down but things are being addressed more visibly. whatever becomes the collection defines the space. Where the text is right: this change is a not an individual thing. This is not an individual decision - it is a dialogue (compares it to democracy). It's not breaking down actively, the logic is not the same as before. It's like 16 year olds setting the agenda for tomorrow's political agenda. Katrien: It's a movement. Kobe: No one predicted Google. Wiels and Kanal don't have collections - what kind of financial transactions underly these kind of spaces? This is about real estate speculation.

1:35:00 Robbert on entropy and internet - as a phenomenon that is like the 'churches and palaces' that Groys is writing about. Maybe internet is the contemporary collection. Entropy is much more linked to internet than the collection. Kobe: It's like e-flux. Institutions all over the world pay to be in the 'spam machine'. E-flux has a lot of announcements: 3/day. This gives them a lot of autonomy which allows them to commission Groys to write texts. Discussion on eflux' business model, while run by artists: Katrien thinks a lot of money is dissappearing in e-flux. They will for sure not 'take down' the institutions as these are the ones financing them. Olivier: Kanal is a good example. It's funded by the state, it's part of a real estate project. Ronny: Kanal needs federal money. Will they get it? Wiels is different - it's a collector's initiative, also partly defined by real estate projects. Discussion about Wiels and Kanal Kobe: the logic he describes still exists but is less present. Ronny: he focuses on art as an autonomous space Stijn: He writes a lot on Malevich and Malevich focusses on how to be able to get into dialogue with non-art world through a specific language - so Groys is not so much on autonomy in my opinion.

1:42:00 Kobe on intellectual property system: shift from the collection to an imaginary 'kadaster'. Just by the act of creation, there's protection, there's no registration. Kobe compares the protection of copyright to the logic of the collection where originality is a condition. Katrien: it makes modern art protection shallow - the validation system cannot follow the speed of production of the 'new'.

Stijn calls Groys the comical paradoxalist.