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Flash View, 1-6: Playing the Fool
Killing the Jester

By Jan Lauwers
Copyright 2005 Jan Lauwers

Editor's Note: Jan Lauwers is the director of Needcompany, in whose newsletter the following initially appeared. (The titles above are not his.) Needcompany performs Lauwers's "La Chambre d'Isabella" February 8 - 12 at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt in Paris.)

BRUSSELS -- Artists are concerned chiefly with form. Artists say what has already been said but in a new way. Artists are people who try to give a name to their own hysteria. This explains the tremendous naivety one repeatedly encounters in art. A naivety that has a pernicious effect on politics. Naive politics lead to murder and manslaughter. An artist who puts himself at the service of politics is thus more of a jester than an artist. At the present time it is very tempting for an artist to put on a fool's cap. Someone who did so with great verve was Theo Van Gogh. Theo was a true jester.

He made a short film about women in Islam and was murdered. He used art to change the world. And now he is dead and the world has not changed.

"In the Middle Ages there was an unspoken agreement that the jester would never be punished for what he said. It is clear that we no longer live in the Middle Ages. Roll on 2005!

In 'My Last Breath' Bunuel tells that while on his deathbed he wanted to play one last joke: he gathered all his libertine surrealist friends, including Andre Breton and Dali, around his deathbed. He then had a priest sent, was given the last sacraments and died. His friends were utterly dumbfounded: Could it be that he, their free-thinking blood-brother, actually became a believer in the face of death? They would never know. Bunuel liked to put on the fool's cap too. Perhaps this is an interesting redefinition of the artist: a court jester without a king.

Dear friends, in the name of Needcompany I wish you all a fool's cap and hope that in 2005 we do not have to hear the names of God and Allah too much more, though I am afraid this is a vain hope.

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