Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 2#3 Paul Groot 1 Jan 1988

Rabotnik TV

After a number of test cablecasts, this summer radio rabotnik tv began its weekly video/art magazine on Amsterdam's cable network.

The news-reel format program appears every Wednesday on channel 4 and is repeated each hour between 4pm and 12pm. Rabotnik tv is the continuation of the pirate TV-station PKP/Rabotnik. It is one of the most notable phenomena on the cable system of the major urban area. Not always because of the high artistic quality of what is available but because its brazen impertinence, adolescent nosiness and highly provocative content. Paul Groot, one of Rabotnik's makers and no stranger to Dutch art circles, explains a thing or two.


2#3 - Rabotnik TV

All that’s fit to transmit
RABOTNIKS editorial formula, borrowed from the New York Times' motto, is All that's fit to transmit and embraces a post-punk, dadaist, modernist approach - from God to trash - in which the main thing is to democratize the medium of TV as much as possible and at the same time to mystify. All journalistic, artistic and technical codes are contravened if possible or deliberately applied with extra emphasis so that extra tension or even total relaxation are created in the medium's hyperreality. Rabotnik TV, with its editorial board of Leo Anemaet, Mike von Bibikov, Jos Alderse Baas, Menno Grootveld, Paul Groot, Peter Klashorst, Gerald van der Kaap and Matthias Ylstra, operates on the screen as much as possible in anonymity.

Firstly to skirt round all possible technical legal claims for alleged copyright infringement but especially to emphasize the anonymity in artistic thinking. In that sense, the editors feel a direct connection with the artistic practices developed in Warhol's Factory: particularly for legitimizing the artistic pretensions of the whole venture. The programming aims as much as possible to give each weekly program its own identity. Of course, contemporary formulas such as rapping, scratching and sampling are inescapable but the editing methods of Eisenstein or Jean-Luc Godard are just as alluring. Hence, each issue of the cultural magazine acquires an individual character that is defined purely and simply by artistic considerations.

Taboos are there to be transgressed if necessary without not deliberately being able to spare the sensitive toes of as many viewers as possible. TV on remote control so that viewers have the last word, all connected up for their wishes to be catered to. Both the news- reel format and the short items take this into account while the next program or section of a program can deliberately jolt the whole pattern of viewing by the screen becoming inert like aZen-like image. According to research conducted by the Netherlands Broadcasting Authority's ratings service, Rabotnik TV has a broad density of viewers, around 50,000 viewers tuning each week into channel 4. Le Beau, Amsterdam's best known disc-jockey, calls the video magazine one of his major viewing experiences of the season along -with the BBC's Visconti and Buñuel seasons, and Miami Vice. The makers themselves view the whole thing as nothing more than an experiment in viewing and listening, a necessary refreshment in the midst of the other broadcasters' extremely average contributions.

Studio Utopia
The scenic of the urban landscape, the reversibility, the incalculability, the art historical images of bourgeois structure. The city as contemporary seduction, the place where dealing goes on, seduction is on offer. The romantic street dregs, Baudelaire and the dandies, the passage-ways where the wares are available appear here in an anonymous atmosphere, the architects are nameless, the historical styles are intangible, a clear historical orientation is no longer possible.


2#3 - Rabotnik TV

Television as dustbin where everything can be deposited as trash collection. Old tapes, filmed from the monitor, the no longer visible tension of empty images which can suddenly yield fire in the final edit. It keeps starting with the exploding rockets; what TV set can exist without a series of rockets blowing up or exploding in the air. The metaphorical image for a final journey, the monitor as defective system, the inevitability of the abolition of the TV networks. And the flowers of evil appear again in that final journey, unexpectedly and barely visible, which without any pretension can match that constantly exploding violence and are the beginning of a new voyage of discovery.

Save the robots
he house band is Save the Robots, the broadcaster the VPRO, the signature is from Andy Warhol's Factory. Don Munroe filmed the performance of the Save the Robots Band in the Save the Robots-Club in New York. La Kaap, the singer and director, adds a striptease that's no striptease, which was made and edited on the Mirage at Hilversum (Dutch national TV). Intended as a contribution to an artists' series on TV, it became a 50 minute long minimal cinema score with a single repeated passage from a middle of the road number by the kitsch band Modern Talking. Here Sleep TV receives its validation in a fascinating and timeless movement which was ultimately as daring as a piece of ZEN meditation. In color and black-and-white.

Bocon the gangster
The Third World version of the 12 inch Gangster's Maul, a mariachi band makes a home- grown Mexican version of a techno song, with Mexican pictures added. Pyramids, the sun, dope, coca, brothels, here the other side acquires an unexpected tension through connotations of colonialist tendencies in this authentic performance. A metaphor for contemporary cultural life, the clip produced an unexpected response.

The set is an Amsterdam street, temporarily transformed into the Amsterdam ghetto during World War Two for the recording of a film. The past blends with the present
when in the midst of the uniformed SS, Wehrmacht, soldiers and anxious Jewish
citizens, Mike von B. appears, ever the dandy in his tight raincoat and hat pulled down over his eyes. Panic as Miep Gies is threatened with arrest, still greater panic as Mike von B. appears on screen and immediately dominates the whole scene. It's unclear what's happening., is this the ideal resistance fighter waiting for his time to come,
or the rough German director of this round-up who is causing so much panic? Later we see Mike von B. behind a cafe window, he looks out over the square and sees himself
walking there, tight raincoat, hat over the eyes, and sees how he is run in by the police. Who is who?


2#3 - Rabotnik TV

Le temps perdue
Three parts poetry of the first order. Pasolini' s Italian. street-walkers. Dutch, nautical poetry by Slauerhoff, Baudelaire in your trouser pocket, forgotten sentences by Kavafis, Arie Visser in the waiting room and the image continues gently, agilely in the millionaire's swimming pool, melancholy under the endless streetlights, voices mix with the sounds of the city. T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land.

Rammellzee, the hip-hopper, painter, writer, believer in an extra terrestrial civilization and artist working on an absolutely new language, is preparing a performance for the Aknathon club in Amsterdam. As a rapper and scratcher, he is also the self chosen ambassador of a medieval Galaxia. He is a figure from a Jan van Eyck portrait, his interests are those of the lady-killer. He answers questions but it is particularly the role of the artist that drives him on, the representative of an alien culture revealed through his paintings. The interview is an icon come to life, it imparts great authenticity.


2#3 - Rabotnik TV


The catastrophe of the atomic threat, the motto of Documenta in Kassel is here punctuated by images of the guillotine. As an official participant at Documenta, Radio Rabotnik TV kept an eye on the achievements of other participants. Because alongside its own performance Wohl Ihr die totale Poesie?, alongside the art guerillas, there was the poetic image of a Death in Kassel where a documentary was shown in a classical atmosphere, to the music of Verdi, Mozart and Strawinsky and focused on art in the classical sense, according to a classically formulated scenario.

New York
The old-fashioned news reportage, on the road journalists allow themselves to accept
hospitality of New Yorkers. Peter Nagy as the guide of everyday life, Don Munroe
as the commentator, the d 'Ornamentation exhibition as a key factor, urban life as merry- go-round. Underground, taxi rides - every image in a sun-baked city is a good image. The great absence of Warhol who has just died. There is a god, a god, there is a model, it is Warhol, it is the invisible, anonymous artist, the icon of the program, the invisible presence which must be captured but does not let itself be controlled and keeps appearing again and again. He is present in his absence, he denies himself in his presence. Thanks to Finkelstein, he appears and disappears in the studio, he is always there or his surrogate is. The eternal.

New Age is everywhere: in music, in art, in the media. Is Theo van Gogh new age? In any case, you can hear derivative piano versions of Satie. Giordano Bruno is still on screen in the middle of the garbage of the Campo dei Fiori vegetable market in Rome. The funeral pyre is piled high but the man friendly sounds of Universal-studios (who appear here in the Rabotnik logo with the twinkling circle of stars) make the program almost sentimental. Here Boeddha is the present absence (is WARHOL maybe reincarnated in Boeddha or as it the other way around?). It's almost Arthur Rackham all those splendid nature landscapes but there's still the threat of The Right Stuff.

Translation Annie Wright