FOR THE ELITE ONLY

FA 20

Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre

Stockholm - November 1996

Let me place you in the picture. Sweden. Like all around the world, in Sweden, the dissatisfaction, insecurity and fear of the people goes over to the perfect escape-goat: the foreigners, the immigrants. They are the grounds of all evil. If you thought something else about Sweden it is because you miss the last 20 years of neoliberal turn-around and you still have the "for export" picture of the sweet 70's.

Let me zoom you into the picture. Stockholm. Probably one of Europe's snobbiest cities, capital of a province where New York is the obsession, little sister likes Big Apples. In Europe? Germany (just because they have more money) and London (just because the poverty of that third world city make some interesting things happens). The rest of the world it is an exotic vacation. Alternativ: Caritas.

The culture, as anywhere else, is in the hand of a few. Since private mecenates are absent the financial of culture it is politics. One Big Happy Family. You fuck around with them, and you are deleted.

This work is about fucking around with Stockholm's Cultural Elite

 

Zooming closer: Art and Literature Magazine "90tal" (90's) (one of the best around here) gives out a book called "The World in Sweden" with texts of 70 "immigrant" writers, all of them refused by ALL the Swedish publishers (no economic potential, I guess). For the release they make a party. They rent a disco, with a stage for readings, performance, music, dance and invite a very well known and controversial art group to make an installation, "tha arty touch": Yes, FA+. Now, a very close picture: Invited are, in one hand, all those immigrant writers, the invisible ones. In the other hand the Elite, Stockholm's Intelligentsia: the publishers, politicians, critics and journalist that refuse to accept their existence. HOWEVER, they are very engaged, very political correct, participate in the debate about "We-Them", no good with discrimination: One Big Happy Family.
Now: FA+ just wanted to "sort out" things, to make a little order in a ratter complicate situation. It was a quite simple installation, imagine building a big laying _T_ in front of the entrance door, on the street: in stead of one, you have two access to the same door. Make this T look like very convincing, use riot-fences, 3 meters high. Now sort out things, to help the people to find the right way in, put two signs: One, green (nothing to declare?), whit the text: Entrance NR 1 - ONLY Stockholm's Culture Elite. In the other the sign (red): Entrance NR 2 - Ordinary people - Immigrants. Some may try to cheat, as usual, therefore you contract two professional doorkeepers, XXL size, and place them in "Entrance NR 1". These guys are pro, ok? They know how to handle a crowd in a Saturday-night disco, but Culture Elite, how do we recognice them? Don't worry, just make this three questions to find out:

Where are you born? If you are born in the any Swedish city but Stockholm, or outside Sweden, you are an immigrant in Stockholm: Next entrance.

What do you work with? It must be Culture, the Fine one. Ministry of Transport is no culture elite; wife of a journalist is no culture elite and so on. It must be Real Fine Culture Work.

How much money you earn per month from that? Because if said you are a writer, and make 100 $/month from your writings, baby you are a wannabe, but not elite. Not necessary to be rich, to make a living out of it is good enough.

ONLY THOSE who gives the right answer to the three questions are aloud to go trough Entrance NR 1, nothing to discuss. Entrance NR 2 is free to walk trough. Welcome.

....

People arrives. They see the fences, the guards. They read the signs and choose entrance. Cues start growing. The cue for "ordinary people - immigrants" goes quick, only the usual delay for buying tickets and wardrobe slow it down.The cue for the elite hardly moves; everyone has to answer the three questions. Anyway, they persist on going to the elite cue.

The going gets tough. Some people refuse to change entrance and be treaten like ordinary people. "I am famous, don't you know me?!" screams somebody. "I know the owner of the Magazine!" cries aloud a woman with furs and gold all over the body. Actress Bibi Anderson tries to use her influence to smuggle some "unclean" friends through the elite entrance. Some get charming, some aggressive, some makes threats, some want to pay. They consider themselves belonging to the elite and try to go trough this entrance.

Meanwhile, in the other entrance, the "ordinary people" just pass through easy.

Later on, with the show already going on inside, entrance NR 2 was completely empty; nevertheless the bunch keep on cueing and discussing to come trough the elite's entrance, the NR 1.

Inside the ambient was tense, the poeple was complainig a lot for the missthreathment at the entrance. Afraid of loosing the magazine's pre-numerates, most of them present rigth there, in a pause of the show, the magazine's editor came up to stage to explain the situation and calm down the audience: There is nothing to worry, she said, it was not for real, it was ONLY ART! Things got worst. They found out that they have been catch with the trousers down. Some laugh. The most got furious. Moreover, since we are talking about Media-power here, next day the newspapers where divided in two: 100% on our side (those that, thank's god, where not there), or deeply against us. "That's not Art but provocation!" "That's not Art but a stupid practical choke!" "That's not Art but a social experiment" and so on. In all the newspapers on and on, radio, television shows, magazines, you name it, it was all over the media. Belive it or not: Only ONE journalist asks US for our comment. Spooky?

Now, what are we dealing with here? Inversion of power? There you have all those artist, journalist, critics, writers, intellectuals, polititians: The good guys! We confront them with an unexpected, quite realistic situation (a daily situation for non-white-blond-blue-eyed citizens), and they just buy it! They, who used to pass by all cues with a smile to the doorkeeper, suddenly were stopped and have to answer embarrassing questions. Or worst, they have to move to the next entrance since they cannot prove belonging to the elite. Many of them got mad about these ignorant gorillas stopping just THEM, the Celebrities!

We have a little problem here. In Sweden it is forbidden by a specific LAW to do any kind of discrimination at a restaurant's entrance, the law is broken daily. So, we expected somebody to come and say: We do not accept this in Sweden, if you do not take this fences away I will call the police! However, nobody did it, they where too concern trying to get themselvs trough the entrance NR 1, green, nothing to declare.

Since them things got difficult for us, for some art critics and news papers we just simply do not exist anymore, FA+'s name has been deleted from the Art Scene, no more scholarships, no more foundings. But, what do you expect? Do not fuck around with the GOOD GUYS. Because We Are One Big Happy Family.

Aren't we?


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