An experimental critique by Freddie Ross on the installation by Fabien Guillermont

In conjunction with Fabien Guillermont's installation of The New Idol at KSM-lab Freddie Ross has written an experimental critique of the work and that reflects on their mutual travels to Kiruna and northern Sweden. We invite you to a journey....


 I did not expect that just offering someone a seat at a bar would lead all the way to the polar circle. It did not take many beers that night for us to realize that we were, in a lot of ways, kindred spirits even though we came from different backgrounds. He with a bachelor degree in law from a country which has mastered the art of making snails taste good. I, on the other hand, have a bachelor degree in cultural studies from a country which greatest achievement is perfecting queuing and making it a national sport. These differences are, however, only superficial. We are both part of the same generation, a generation that has been told from an early age that we could grow up to become whatever we want. This is an encouraging way of parenting, with the heart in the right place, so to speak. Sadly, the world does look a little bit different these days and a lot of people get their dreams crushed on a daily bases. Hell, they have even made it into a subplot in numerous TV shows. The good news is that this has not given rise to a generation of megalomaniacs who's greatest desire is to become a king or a queen. Then again, who the fuck would!? No, this has given rise to entire generations of people who wish to become artists, actors, bloggers, writers, singers, dancers,  directors,  designers, game developers, reality-TV stars and, of course, real estate agents. We are no exception to the rule.

   During the months that followed our friendship grew deeper with the delightfully helpful social lubricant called alcohol. And before you, the reader, get any ideas in your head, that was not a euphemism for fucking. Endless nights were spent discussing art, philosophy and ex-girlfriends, whom we are still madly in love with. So when Fabien asked me to take part in his video project, as a ventriloquist, and join him for the road-trip to the wild wild north I immediately said yes.
   This is a text inspired by our long conversations, Fabien's work and our journey to the most northern and desolated parts of Sweden, a place where the sky seems so much closer to the ground. A place on the verge of being forgotten by the rest of the country except for pillagers and thieves who see the north as an abundant place for exploiting the natural resources and the people who live there. Once the resources have been exhausted they will leave and take everything with them. The only thing left will be a barren landscape. This is not, however, a critique of The New Idol itself but a critique of the notion of 'the new idol'. It's more of a correspondence to The New Idol.


“Ah, ye brethren, that God whom I created was human work and human madness, like all the Gods!”

Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra

 Idols come in many different shapes and forms. The devoted fans who cry at the mere sight of their favorite performer, the followers whom are willing to kill or get killed in the name of ideology, an ideology that seems to have taken on a will of its own, the isolated prisoner who idolizes the rat for its ability to sneak in and out of the so-called insane asylum without ever being detected. Whether or not the idol surfaces in the shape of a person, an object, a thought or an entity, the message from all orthodoxies is quite clear; do not fuck with false gods! Although it might seem tempting and exciting to succumb to our inherent willingness to subdue ourselves to something that is out of our reach, it is not only dangerous but also meaningless. 

   These warnings continue to echo in the chambers of social critics to this day, only the idols have changed. What was once a man who could walk on water is now a dude with the ability to bite the head of a bat. What was once sacred scripture has been reduced to fifty shades of gray. What was once a didactical tool has metamorphosed into a urinal and slapped with the label 'Art', a term as elusive as the physical presence of God. Today the idols reside in the economic and social structures, the symbolic value has taken precedence over use-value and nowhere is this made more obvious than at an art-auction. There seems to be a somewhat mystical aura around how we humans interpret the world around us. For everything, that we cannot quite explain or wrap our heads around, the easy way out is to turn to our personal favorite demagogue, or Oprah, and have them explain it for us. This will, however, only lead us down a bottomless pit of absurdity. Although, I do admit that it would be hilarious to fire up the ol' time machine and sit in on a history class in the future, were they explain that 9/11 was orchestrated by Nessie and Bigfoot in order to make curling a national sport in Yemen.
   There are, however, much more dire implications of this way of anti-reasoning and as a direct cause of it way too many people are suffering every day. This suffering will continue until the day we change. Sadly, this change might not be up to us. It might very well be a question of an evolution of the mind, if you will. However, if we have the ability to imagine it, it would, at the very least, be unethical not to try.  

   So, what is the remedy proposed by many social critics? - The ability to see through the mystic and abandon our devotion to things that do not really exist and thus escape the spell that these things, nonetheless, have cast upon us.

Self Surpassing

“And let everything break up which—can break up by our truths!  Many a house is still to be built!”

Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra

 ESTRAGON:   So, are you saying that we shall just forget about everything; burn the old books, cast our forks and bowls, undress and howl naked at the moon?
 VLADIMIR:   Well, that sounds like a pretty good time, but given that it's only you and me here, I propose that we keep our clothes on. Tell me, do you remember the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes?
ESTRAGON:   (thinking) No, when did we meet him?
 VLADIMIR:   We haven't met him, he has been dead for over two thousand years. Shit! Just forget it.
ESTRAGON:   Oh, wait! Was he the fellow who masturbated in the town square?
 VLADIMIR:   YES! I mean, yes, yes he was, or at least that's what they say anyway. However that's beside the point. He was a man that saw only absurdity where everyone else saw status and boundaries. When asked about his nationality he told them that he was a cosmopolitan.
ESTRAGON:   I thought you said he was Greek?
 VLADIMIR:   (scoffs) It's just labels!
ESTRAGON:   Oh!    
 VLADIMIR:   Or take the story when Alexander the Great approached Diogenes and asked him if there was anything he could do for him. To which Diogenes replied; “You could move out of the way. You are blocking the sun.” Ah, delightful!
ESTRAGON:   So, did he?
 VLADIMIR:   Do what?
ESTRAGON:   Move out of the way?
 VLADIMIR:   I don't know! Who cares? That's not the point of the story. It's about sticking it to The Man. It's about not giving in to whoever is wearing an arbitrary crown weather it's the King of Pop, Gustav Vasa or the Burger King. It's about killing our idols.
ESTRAGON:   Oh, I see! I'll go get the gun.
 VLADIMIR:   No, no, no! It's not a call for us to go all 'Chapman' on everyone we admire. It's about realizing that they're just humans, nothing more, nothing less. Their work is the work created by humans, nothing more, nothing less.
ESTRAGON: And sometimes an image is just an image, nothing more, nothing less.                      

Old and New Tables

“When I came unto men, then found I them resting on an old infatuation: all of them thought they had long known what was good and bad for men.”   

Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra

 THE SQUIRRELS AND THE OWL. Once upon a time an owl was sitting on a branch. The owl was doing some mindfulness exercises, his therapist suggested that he should try, when the tranquility of the forest was disrupted by the sound of two squirrels arguing.
   “You are such a dillhole!”, one squirrel said to the other. “Everyone knows that the right way to build a home is with a dray nest! My family has done it this way for generations!”
   The other squirrel shouted back:
   “No! The right way is with a cavity nest, you dumb-ass! My daddy did it and his daddy before him!”
   The owl, who got pretty tired of hearing the two squirrels arguing, asked them if they thought that there was a definitive answer to the question at hand. To which they replied:
   “Of course there is a right answer to which way one ought to build a home.”
   The owl then asked them if they had considered all the arguments in both cases.
   “Of course we have, we're not stupid. Duh!” said the squirrels.
   “So tell me, which one is the right one”, the owl asked.
   “Dray nest”, one squirrel replied.
   “Cavity nest”, said the other.
   “That's how firm one's beliefs are in what is right. No argument will change one's mind”, said the owl and ate them both.

THE BEES AND THE FLOWER. Once upon a time two bees landed on a flower to suck its oh so sweet nectar. One of the bees asked the other:
   “Hey, wait a second. Why the hell are we out here busting our asses for the Queen when we can do something else instead?”
   The other bee looked at him with suspicion. “We are doing it because it's the right thing to do, the Queen says so. Now, start sucking!” The flower, who obviously heard their conversation, said:
    “You're asking yourselves the wrong question. The question you should ask is whether it is right because the Queen says so or if she says so because it is right!”
    The bees did not know how to respond to this and after pondering on it for a bit they decided that there is only one thing to do. They flew themselves off a cliff.

The Greeting                            

“Ye despairing ones! Ye strange ones! So it was your cry of distress that I heard? And now do I know also where he is to be sought, whom I have sought for in vain to- day: the higher man”

Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra

Tired creators rest beneath the pines
Heaven has long since been cloaked by fire
Everything is silent, down in the mines
now all is in the hands of the buyer

Ever wonder; is this all it could be,
waging cold wars on invisible fronts?
Shackled by the things that should set us free
undeterred by the political stunts

Pushed towards their absolute breaking point,
everyone with nothing left to lose,
reads odes to smoke, a universal joint

Meanwhile malls open and we turn to booze
And as for the greeting, see for yourself
new books will replace the old on the shelf        

-Freddie Ross