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Royalism & Humanity

While it's fun to see Susan Philipsz getting the Turner Prize, it's worrisome that, with such an
honor, art remains in service of the Empah.

We can all enjoy the paahty, to quote Jay Jopling,
and we can all realize that life gets on, doesn't it, without too much muss or fuss.

Consider what will happen this year, 2011.

A sound installation, very different, oh yes, will crown the world of art. And Prince William will wed, very different too, a commoner, but in Westminster Abbey, with all traditions galore. We can celebrate the Queen of Art, and we can cheer on the likely next King of England, with his Queen by his side, and we can also hear comments on how the wedding will stabilize Thailand, inspire Japan, and rally the economies of Sweden, Norway, Holland, Denmark and Spain. God Save the Economy.

When my daughter was full of Kings and Queens, and mostly Princesses, with all the Disney babble about such, I decided, as a citizen of a Republic, to tell her about guillotines.

I told her that in the 18th century being a princess or queen became quite unfashionable, even deadly. This also happened in some other countries, like Russia, around the time of the first oil war (WW I).

I told her that you don't want to become a princess, or behave like a princess, or even look like a princess. Because if you do, you might get your head chopped off in a guillotine.

She liked the idea of princesses having their heads chopped off, and she made some explicit drawings with chalk on the floor. I helped out by showing some pictures from books.

My wife objected, saying that I was teaching violence. I said, No, I am teaching republicanism. I am also teaching history.
And, believe it or not, I'm giving some justification to the sacrifices of some 4,000 Americans who died in their war for independence from the British Crown. They did not want to obey a single person. They did not want, also, to be obey decisions made in London. Why now, then, are we outside of the UK paying attention to the coronation of an artist inside the UK, for reasons which have only to do with the population and art-competitive context of the UK?

Why not declare independence from the internal British procedure of anointing a king or queen of their art world? And why not do the same when May 29 comes around and all of some part of the world rejoices at the marriage of two graduates of St. Andrews University? Just don't pay attention.

One fact is certain. My daughter, born in the USA, will never get a Turner Prize. She will never be able to be crowned as the Queen of Art. There is no prize given in the USA, or most anywhere (except, in a regrettable return to royalism in France, with the "Duchamp" Prize), for the "best artist."

I congratulate Susan Philipsz on being recognized, especially for a non-visual but nonetheless spatial work. But I regret that the honor should happen to be royalistic and nationalistic. The honor can only to go a British national, which means it can only go to someone of a certain national birth. Also, the honor has a tinge of royalism about it. The ONE person selected is now CROWNED for a yeat as the best visual-art spokesperson for the country.

We would all do better, as a world, without national art prizes, such as Turner (or Duchamp) prizes.

We can also do better with the art world run on business and aesthetic principles, rather than ones of birth, nationhood or royalist selection.

We can begin by stopping any questions, popular in NY for awhile, as to "who is the best artist?"

There is no "best" in art.

There's what works, at the moment, for a given need, changing from time to time.

Now, to the brutal point: Wolfgang Staehle and I had thought of doing a ceremony in honor of the Princess cults promoted by Walt Disney. We had thought of this because, as it geopolitically turns out, a key part of Disney's 100-year bond holdings, and therefore long-term investments, lie in royal families of the center of Big Oil, Saudi Arabia. Wow. The royal families at the heart of the fossil-fuel energy industry, all quite happy to watch the world melt in global warming, they have a huge stake in promoting and glorifying princesses. They also like giving prizes to the "best" artist, whenever a big art show happens, for
Well, what happens when two republicans, Wolfgang from the German Federal Republic, and me, Peter Fend, from the United States of America, decide to publicly guillotine hundreds of Disney Princesses?

Would young girls begin to understand their duty to the world, instead of to their own selection as "the best"?

These words are not just for the art world. They are also for nations now vexed about the subject of royalism, like Sweden. The news has just come out that Sweden's royal family is further scandalized by its associations with Nazism. Of course. Royalism and Nazism go hand in hand. They are both about privilege according to birth. They are both about someone being "best." What if the Crown Princess of Swweden, who is educated and versatile enough, were to follow through on her already half-abdication of marrying a gym trainer, were to proceed further to abdication entirely of the throne, and to a call upon her fellow citizens to stop the rotten business? Without a guillotine. Just with a firm handshake.

Maybe the crowned queen of British art could do a sound piece about this. As a missive to a woman of nearly the same age.

Meantime, we can ask: will the crowned queen of British art be called upon to do anything, or appear at any event, or generally applaud, with the marriage of Prince William (who also likes Nazi outfits) and Kate Middleton? Or would she also abdicate that role? With a firm handshake?

I await the news reports of Susan Philipsz' comportment on May 29, 2011, now declared by the Tory Government to be a national holiday.

In the UK.

Dein Pal
nach Meine Palin

Peter Fend