It was always like this
The text ‘It was always like this’, I selected for the Renate Rubinstein (1929-1990) column is based on a piece of prose from the anthology ‘You’ve already got No’ (1985), in which she speaks of the unequal division of ‘illness, love, capital and time’, among other things.
The passage is as follows: ‘Time has become my capital, I’m aware it’s running out, diminishes with every minute and never returns. Piously, I remember that it has always been like that and this applies to every person.’
I have ‘sublimated’ and ‘transformed’ the original fragment ‘that this was always like that’, just like a few other texts for the columns, by generalising the phrase and altering it to ‘It was always like this’.
Likewise, the text appears in the artwork not solely as a subtle reference to Renate Rubinstein’s work and life. The aphorism ‘It was always like this’ goes further and becomes ambiguous when we consider the innovatory impulse allegedly intrinsic to art, for example.
Is there in the course of the history of art – indeed in the development of history at all – always a ‘new’ episode, a ‘new’ artwork, again and again? It is often said: Art is far ahead of its time. On the other hand, perhaps we have seen it all before: ‘It was always like this’.
Renate Rubinstein (1929-1990) was a writer, journalist and a columnist, going by the pseudonym ‘Tamar’. She began her as a writer at the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad and the student magazine Propria Cures among other publications. Later she wrote for Vrij Nederland (VN), Het Parool, NRC Handelsblad, Avenue and the literary magazine Tirade.
Artwork: You Are Here
Artist: Martijn Sandberg
Measurements: (lxwxh) 80cm x 80cm x 40cm
Project: Legacy of the Twentieth Century
Realisation and completion: 2019
Location: Oranje Vrijstaatkade, Oostpoort, Amsterdam
Commissioned by: Amsterdam Municipality, District Oost