Blog Post #12 -Holly

The videofilm What is to be Done tells of a group of illegal deported immigrants who decided to seek asylum at the museum, because of their belief that  “art is on the side of the oppressed”. The director answered to the reporter that the museum is open to everyone, and that their aim in opening and running a museum is to “wake society up”. Without it, he questioned, “who will pose and discuss these questions?” Art as a means of activism has been an ongoing theme we’ve explored in class this past semester, from the Yes Men to the Barbie Liberation Organization, artist-activists have been using performance and tactical media to provoke and question society and the ruling order. Art is “completely harmless,” as it is mere representations, meant only to “make us think.” In order to open up the museum to visitors again after news reports on the immigrants, the director and in-house artist decide to turn the situation into a piece of art, Victory of the Sun, a performance on the deportation of immigrants. As “actors” to a performance, the immigrants cannot be arrested because what they are doing is in the name of art, and thus poses no direct threat to society. While there are laws and orders in place to protect and to ensure the smooth running of society, the choir in the film sings that  “we should hear [illegal immigrants] out: They’re people, too!” These people need shelter, food, and protection, and “they’ve got kids!” Since the Dutch call themselves a “hospitable nation,” and that “humaneness has not been abolished,” a country cannot call itself respectful of human rights if it were to forcefully deport illegal immigrants to camps that are “horrible.”  If laws and regulations are in place to protect the people, it should protect everyone in the society at that time, regardless of how they got there and whether or not they have a right to be there. The film portrayed the illegal immigrants as kept within The Eye, and that whatever they say or do are soundless to the people outside. This represents the actual situations of illegal immigration around the world, many live their lives as aliens in a foreign country, their voices are not heard, and their needs are not addressed. Their situations are often worsened by mainstream media’s negative and exaggerated reports to the threats of illegal immigrants to the country, often blaming them for crimes and trafficking. In the film, the news reporter also repeatedly referred to the immigrants as criminals and extremists, accusing them of posing severe threats to the safety and stability of the country. The Director retaliated that the media should be more restrained in the name-calling, because it’s not up to the them to decide who is a criminal and who isn’t. The “hysteria” the media creates often brews unnecessary fear and frenzy among the people, villainizing innocent victims who actually need our help and sympathy.

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