Gentlemen & Arseholes

Gentlemen & Arseholes is a reprint of an inscribed first issue of the cultural journal Encounter from 1953, along with a series of supplementary materials that are inserted between the original pages.

Lene Berg collected these additions over a long period from books, newspapers, private albums, conversations, and so on. They thus vary in their character and form. What they all have in common is that they describe aspects of that which, for various reasons, was never mentioned in Encounter, nor in connection with any of the other undertakings of the sponsor and publisher, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (1950-1967). The additions change the interpretation of the original and perhaps make it wilt somewhat. They can be read alone, in relation to the original texts, from beginning to end, from the middle, or in a higgledy-piggledy way; they do not comprise an unambiguous narrative, but are rather a series of tracks, puzzle pieces and circumstantial evidence ¬ but of what? A liberal conspiracy, a successful state-sponsored cultural effort carried out by a powerful intelligence agency, that created many dilemmas, and perhaps resulted in the very existence of the world we now live in, or perhaps it made no difference whatsoever. The questions Lene Berg raises are: How can we assess the consequences of art, literature, philosophy, and research? And under what conditions can they be described as free and independent?