Windmill intervention

The video diary group is getting together again today – at Kinderdijk this time. We’re putting together an exhibition about our lives after art school.  To be shown – hopefully – at the beginning of June in Utrecht.

Today we’re also painting in plain-air, it’s Kinderdijk so we will do windmills. A tongue-in-cheek intervention based on the idea of art as a professional but (as yet) financially unrewarding activity. How to make painting rewarding? Very hard to do, as I don’t like painting much & windmills are such picture-perfect things – which is the idea behind the action anyway. Pic shows a number of my colleagues doing a game at exhibition the unwanted land in Scheveningen a couple of months ago – hope we’ll have as much fun today!


Happy Valley  is an established company that produces industrial amounts of small paintings to be sold as souvenirs at tourist shops and other venues. The company workers are professional artists from different nationalities that have recently graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program at MaHKU in Utrecht. Outside of the academy these artists are struggling to make ends meet, and Happy Valley is their collective reaction to this situation. 

Happy Valley  chooses its subjects with care, selecting Dutch Heritage sites with souvenir-selling potential. The artists involved work like slaves; they are put under terrible pressure and are made to work in the most strange and uncomfortable circumstances. They are forced to produce a prescribed amount of pieces within a very strict and short period of time. The company takes the utmost advantage of its workforce, squeezing the artists for maximum result, using scientific principles of mass production to take its workforce to extremes.

As with every established company, Happy Valley  can be found on the internet. The Happy Valley website offers the services of the company:  mass-produced paintings of picture-perfect spots. Paintings are reproduced on postcards,  mugs, T-shirts and other souvenirs, all  for sale from the Happy Valley webshop.  Adopting a clicks and bricks strategy, Happy Valley products will also be for sale from real-life souvenir shops and various art venues.

Happy Valley  is a multilayered art project based on the idea of art as a professional activity in contemporary society. It reflects on the difficulties encountered when making art outside of the academic environment, and it mimics processes of mass production to comment– tongue in cheek –  on the present discussion about subsidized art and  art as a ‘linkse hobby’ . The website will  show behind-the-scene material  and host a forum  where visitors, customers and buyers can meet with the artists and discuss the reality behind  Happy Valley .

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