Eyes in Tail

Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen Banned from Stedelijk Museum

Artists by their very nature tend to be a little eccentric. There are a few that let it go to their heads and like a peacock tend to strut a little on the side on vanity.   This is hardly news. As with all things, some of us tend to be a little more tipped towards the abnormal and flashy than others.

After all, being an artist means being a creative and artists often live on the edge of acceptability of what mainstream society considers normal. This is fine and dandy, it’s even fun hanging out with eccentric people, that is until someone crosses the fine line between eccentric and just head scratching weird.

Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen managed to accomplish this dubious transition with a single email. According to Cait Munro of Artnews , van Koningsbruggen was more than a little upset that Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum didn’t send him a personal invite to their reopening party in 2012.

So in response to this obvious mistake in his social calendar, he decided to write an email to museum staff that included the following:

 “The newly-acquired Osama bin Laden painting [by Dumas] is genius. But something’s missing,” he wrote. “In the last few days my urine has become particularly acidic and I’m planning to improve the painting with a well-directed stream of piss, in the presence of her majesty.”
Creative Commons- Franklin Heijnen
Creative Commons – Franklin Heijnen
 “Young foreign video artists will record me pissing against Osama bin Laden, leaving only his beard. After the canvas has dried, I’ll sign it and donate it to the museum,” he continued.”

It came as a surprise to no one, except perhaps for van Koningsbruggen, that the museum promptly banned him from entering the museum.  Instead of apologizing for his rash juvenile issues,  he decides the prudent course of action is to sue the museum in court to allow him access by claiming the offending email was mere misunderstood satire.

The museum tried to solve the issue with van Koningsbruggen but according to Soraya Nadia McDonald of the Washington Post:

 “Stedelijk officials, in the spirit of generosity, recently offered van Koningsbruggen, who was jailed in 2007 for arson, the opportunity to visit on a provisional basis this year. He responded by telling them he would bring notorious Dutch criminal Willem Holleeder with him, and that Holleeder would possibly “take a whiz against the statue of Dan Flavin.”

The judge however, saw very little satire in either email and upheld the museums right to ban the artist from the museum.

All of this makes me wonder.  Is some hidden public relations manager telling van Koningsbruggen to act like an egomaniac so he can boost his popularity? Is it a weak attempt to become controversial to sell more art? Is it like a Britney Spears shaving her head type of statement to sell more albums? Or, is it just that van Koningsbruggen has finally catapulted himself off of the deep end of sensibility.

It’s all a little too weird for my understanding. I only hope he will receive counseling soon. Artist or not, any one  jailed for arson and who then wants to engage in public artwork watersports has issues that need to be addressed.

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