This image was the header of the Belgian surrealist journal, L’Invention Collective. The journal was short-lived; only two issues were published. Nevertheless, appearing as it did in the winter of 1940, it constituted perhaps the sole voice of surrealist creation during the Second World War. Paul Nougé was the journal’s editor.
Programmer extraordinaire and dear friend Peter Taylor writes with terrible news: WORM, the beloved “Institute for Avant-Garde Recreation” that made the year that I lived in Rotterdam so wonderful, has been shuttered, at least in its original form (scroll down for English).
Just before the move to our new building in Rotterdam’s city centre last September, the national fund on which WORM depended for around 50% of her subsidy was scrapped. A fund with a wider remit was established as a replacement, but WORM’s application here was unsuccessful.
In June, WORM’s board and directors decided that the best response to this intensely difficult situation was to implement a plan to restructure, ending the work contracts of its programmers, and ceasing as a programme-creating organisation, beginning again in the New Year as a network and facilitating venue.
My work contract will end over the next few weeks and unfortunately, even with increased support from Rotterdam’s city council; WORM did not have the plan to reinstate this or any other programming positions.
What happens when cities casualize art workers and undercut the venues that showcase this work? Lives are dulled worldwide. Good art and those who advocate for it create a kind of butterfly effect in the art, hearts and minds of others:
Thanks to Peter’s risk-taking as a film programmer, I saw VALIE EXPORT’s Invisible Adversaries (1976) on a bitterly cold February (March?) night at their old Achterhaven space.
I loved the film, and began to study it. I traveled to Vienna to interview VALIE EXPORT, gave a talk on her film at 2012’s College Art Association Conference, and taught her to my students in the course, Art Since 1960. One ARTS major who wasn’t actually in my course heard me talk about EXPORT, and decided to write his final research paper on her. I’m now finishing an article on the film. The gift of a 6-euro screening had a ripple effect from Rotterdam to upstate New York to Vienna to Los Angeles.
What happens when cities casualize art workers and undercut the venues that showcase this work? I hope what happens is that Rotterdammers and their friends demand that art back. I don’t know the complexities involved in the city council’s decision to slash arts funding, but I do know that if they would honor the promise they originally made WORM when it moved venues, I would donate generously to its survival.
Peter puts it best:
Please keep on telling me, telling my colleagues, telling each other and telling strangers that you find this quest to confront audiences – week in, week out – with the boring, the thought-provoking, the absurd, the subversive, and the sublime, absolutely essential. Hopefully then, we can still get somewhere together!