We Live Underground - Trouw, de Verdieping, 12 May

We Live Underground: A temporary exhibition.

Film / Video: 
Yin-Ju Chen & James T. Hong
Ilja Karilampi
Kaweh Modiri
Jon Rafman
Oliver Laric
Amanda Wasielewski
Fritz Bornstück

Junko Otake
New Collagists-Johanna De Schipper & Kelly Kerssens

Posters: Fritz Bornstück
Alex Dordoy
Fiona MacKay
Mitchell Breed
Jasmijn Visser
James Robertson

Installation: Amanda Wasielewski

Organised: Roma Clemie & Amanda Wasielewski

This event aims to explore the notion of "underground" within the context of a one night art event at Verdieping. Underground has classically meant temporary, niche, spontaneous, secretive, transient and avant garde - the underground meets or takes place in subterranean basements but also in a metaphorical underground space - somewhere obscure, unmarked or un-marketed, spread by social networks and word of mouth. With the presence of online memes, 4chan, Anonymous, Wikileaks and others - the metaphor of being "underground" means even more now than it has in the pre-internet world. In the realm of the internet, the underground has also become obfuscated and dispersed. As Chris Anderson of Wired magazine asserts in his problematic book, The Long Tail, the underground or marginal is now popular in its grand niche mass [or, unlimited choice equals unlimited profits]. In other words, people now find it just as easy to acquire cultural output (such as music mp3s) from unknown artists as from music-industry-promoted stars, leading to the combined popularity of independents superseding recording label stars. But does this truly mean that niche culture is now popular culture in the long tail? And is underground culture the same as elite culture?
The underground is also something inherently political - a place where resistance movements against the dominant and powerful are sparked. In light of recent upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, this begs the question of whether an avant garde underground still leads popular revolt. While the art world remains suspicious of the teleologies and modernist progressive ideals inherent in discussing revolution, we can not ignore the elements of our culture that still favour a grand narrative of growth and forward momentum: politics (recent revolutionary activities), economics (global capitalism and Capital growth), and technology (a persistent optimism in a better life through technological advancement).