In the Netherlands today, many of us woke up and heaved a sigh of relief at the election results. One of the biggest causes for optimism was that 80% of eligible voters turned out to vote. So today, we wanted to share this work by the British artist and protester Bob & Roberta Smith, which is the pseudonym of British contemporary artist Patrick Brill.
The work is a copy of the first LP of the Apathy Band, which was formed by Bob & Roberta Smith in the early 90’s. The “A” side of the album is Bob & Roberta Smith reading the text from his painting, “Letter To Michael Gove,” which was his protest at the Conservative Party’s reconfiguring of secondary education which has had a detrimental effect on arts and humanities education in the UK. The painting has been printed as the cover of the album. Over the top, painted by hand, is a message of hope.
“I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both. Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; pessimism assumes it’s all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing. Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we don’t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.
Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we may play in it. Hope looks forward, but it draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections. It means not being the perfect that is the enemy of the good, not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not assuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us.”
As a British citizen living in Amsterdam, I didn’t get to vote in yesterday’s general election. Like thousands of other EU citizens living outside of their country of origin, I’m not eligible to vote in the general elections in my country of residence. Also, having left the UK more than 15 years ago, I didn’t get a say in the last UK election, or in Brexit. I think this is something that we all need to address- the right to vote in the country in which you choose to live. However, there is still hope.