When I think about the possibility today of what used to be called an art movement, I think about what ROB SCHOLTE calls Business Art.
I think that ROB SCHOLTE saw that art was losing large areas of its former view. As much as ROB SCHOLTE is a creature of the art world (and of media exploitation), he never rejects the commercial art world. He has a big heroically inclusive concept of art and in a lot of ways he is the only Pop artist who lives up to Pop’s platform. You could say that Business Art had to happen. (Presuming the world were to continue.) But the actual appearance of Business Art still seems radical and Dada-like in its deep and mysterious pizzazz. I think what ROB SCHOLTE sees in Business Art is power, not just collecting-class power but the kind of power that comes from a positivist, ambitious approach. I think he sees Business Art as a means of escape from the tragic tradition of art declaring itself dead Business Art as a means of escape from the tragic tradition of art declaring itself dead and dead again. Business Art subverts that tragedy through deus ex machina surprise tactics. It is about escapism, about taking the easy way out, but so was some great art of the past. Art before ROB wasn’t all the dangerous leap that we sometimes expect of art that is like art, art that buys into the tragic idea of art history.
By serving commerce, commercial art is able to attain a corporate, communal “I”.
An I like the 1of the Order of Assassins, or the Knights of Templar, or the Ras Tafari. The corporate artist is immune to assassination, literal or figurative, whether by ideological enemies, rival artists, or dealers and collectors with a vested interest.
-The corporate I is superior to “we”
-We is a euphemism
-We is ex cathedra. I is divine.
Dommels wordt ‘t helemaal (Dommelsch is really gonna make it) is a surprise. We can easily understand and accept that beer ads come with football games and all that soaring and hurling and colliding and bleeding and limping. But where PAUL MEIER/ WIM UBINKS reserve their football games and sports for aerospace contractors and microchip makers, and associate an Hewlett Packard logo with football games,
SCHOLTE’S beer add is reserved for artistic ceremonies. As it is in this superb commercial:
-A voluptuary beauty of mixed race turns her head in slo-mo close-up.
-A girl straddles a chair in front of a wind machine.
-A denial of language-based structures of communication.
-A door must be open or shot.
-Two or three, 1 am not quite sure.
-The apparent similarities between
DUCHAMP and the later SCHOLTE.
All this and more shows that SCHOLTE is a perfect art company. The products he shows are like art in every respect except being art. And now he has created one of the great art commercials of our time, except that it’s not really an art commercial, it’s a beer ad. Dommelsch wordt ‘t helemaal has everything that an art work must have, and it is more beautiful than SCHOLTE’s earlier artworks, but it has something more. SCHOLTE is the big absent and that is an excuse that gives it an immunity.
SCHOLTE’S conception of Business Art is to invite the viewer to participate in the works, building them through a sum of actions. Watching the commercials, after a day’s hard work, we enter the soft yellow white in a sort of monochrome fresco-like world, producing shocking effects of complete alienation first and then descent in a fantasy world. The silhouettes of male and female figures, some even probably clones or humanoides, but then we recognize them as beautiful, famous or both. Get-togethers of a few attractive management couples who are having the time of their lives; artists in what seems to be as about to play strip-poker; artists in conversation with all too greedy critics; all this and more; like elegant framed pictures over the woman’s bed, and, elegant women’s figures on the parket floor, covered by the peach satin sheet. But there’s something rotten in the State of Denmark. What’s missing?
SCHOLTE is the big absent. He disappear completely from this work, his best to date. As DUCHAMP stopped easel painting, so SCHOLTE not only stopped the traditional emphasis on the artist hand, but made the artist himself disappear completely. As an alternative to the Romantic exaltation of the creative act, and even of the notion of the artist’s sensibility as a guiding force, he denies himself and, in the best BAUDRILLARD’S sense, he disappears.
Later of course will come the explanations, as we have them now from DUCHAMP: perhaps it is, as it was with DUCHAMP, an incestuous obsession with a sister, or, as others see it more positively: a muffling of a perhaps unconscious, emotional storm, inside an emotionally neutral, and increasingly icy, aesthetic statement. But his absence now is just noticed. Not less, but more.
Beer advertising works. Its image games help you name your poison. I am old-fashioned, I drink GROLSCH, because it’s good for you and it gets you drunk. But for the right price I am available to Dommelsch:
-place of residence: Amsterdam.
-hobby: riding horses.
-last book read: The Bonfire of the Vanities.
-most recent accomplishment: Getting
tickets for the acid -new-body-warehouse
party at the Docklands.
-why I do what I do: because it’s there.
-quote: DOMMELSCH WORDT ‘T HELEMAAL.
Here we have a commercial with a disappearing hero, where the I that was, becomes plural. In the current Dommelsch commercials the artist gave place to all of us. If he is not there, we can be the artist. First person collaboration from beyond, and beyond copyright. We drink the Dommelsch, and we feel a little bit like him.
Fashion people, designers, advertisers, artists all lurk below among the masses. Have you noticed how beautiful they have become? perhaps you can be like them. Just drink Dommelsch, and you’re gonna make it. So the gods will return.
Mediamatic Magazine 3#2, 1988