Friday, August 12, 2011

must-read with
Ion Dumitrescu, Florin Flueras, Irina Gheorghe, Cosima Opartan, Manuel Pelmus, Alina Popa, Stefan Tiron

We disclosed the private exchange of emails between Postspectacle, BMR and ST and discussed around issues such as the criteria by which we choose our references, the monopoly of some authors, the filters which one has to pass to feel comfortable in the art world, the channels by which these texts reach us (one example are the supplements of advertising such as e-flux journal), the decoloniality of knowledge, the jargon which restricts access to some groups/debates etc.

The Center for Visual Introspection was too cold, so we moved to CNDB - for the last time, because rumours say that it closed that weekend.

ST was the one who originally challenged the authority of these authors and who had access to the following texts only by spoken word:

Art of the possible: Fulvia Carnevale and John Kelsey in conversation with Jacques Ranciere;col1
If there is a circulation that should be stopped at this point, it's this circulation of stereotypes that critique stereotypes, giant stuffed animals that denounce our infantilization, media images that denounce the media, spectacular installations that denounce the spectacle, etc. There is a whole series of forms of critical or activist art that are caught up in this police logic of the equivalence of the power of the market and the power of its denunciation.

Badiou A. - Does the Notion of Activist Art Still Have Meaning?
Sudeep Dasgupta - Art is going elsewhere. And politics has to catch it. An interview with Jacques Ranciere
There is this famous text of Kant, Critique of Judgment, saying that aesthetic judgment asks us only to be sensible of form. When standing in front of a palace, it does not matter that it was built out of the sweat of the poor people; we have to ignore that, says Kant. I think Kant was right. At the same time I came upon a text written by a joiner, a floor-layer,3 and he explains precisely what he sees as he is laying a floor in a rich house. He decides to acquire an aesthetic perception of the room, of the garden, of the whole perspective. So he decides to do as if he had a disinterested gaze, and could get an aesthetic judgment, notwithstanding the fact that he is poorly paid, that he works for a boss, and that he works for the rich.
For me this was important. It reminded me of my view of aesthetics – aesthetics not being a sociology of art but as being a form of experience. 
That is, an experience of disconnection. This has been conceptionalized by Kant and Schiller in terms of disconnection: there is something that es-capes the normal conditions of sensory experience. That is what was at stake in emancipation: getting out of the ordinary ways of sensory expe-rience. This thought has been important for my idea of politics, not being about the relations of power but being about the framing of the sensory world itself.

An open letter to the curators, artists, participants of the 11th International Istanbul Biennial and to all artists and art-lovers

We have to stop pretending that the popularity of politically engaged art within the museums, and markets over the last few years has anything to do with really changing the world. We have to stop pretending that taking risks in the space of art, pushing boundaries of form, and disobeying the conventions of culture, making art about politics makes any difference. We have to stop pretending that art is a free space, autonomous from webs of capital and power.

It’s time for the artist to become invisible. To dissolve back into life.
We have read the conceptual framework of the 11th International Istanbul Biennial with great interest and a grin on our faces. We have long understood that the Istanbul Biennial aims at being one of the most politically engaged transnational art events. And what a coincidence! This year the Biennial is quoting comrade Brecht, dropping notions such as neolibreal hegemony, and riding high against global capitalism. We kindly appreciate the stance but we recognize that art should have never existed as a separate category from life. Therefore we are writing you to stop collaborating with arm dealers such as the Koç Holding which white wash themselves in warm waters of the global art scene and invite you to the life, the life of resistance.

Martha Rosler - Take the Money and Run? Can Political and Socio-critical Art “Survive”?
I return to the question posed above, “whether choosing to be an artist means aspiring to serve the rich . . .” Time was when art school admonished students not to think this way, but how long can the success academy hang on while galleries are not to be had? (Perhaps the answer is that scarcity only increases desperation; the great pyramid of struggling artists underpinning the few at the pinnacle simply broadens at the base.) Nevertheless, artists are stubborn. The “Resistanbul” writers tell us they “resist in the streets not in corporate spaces reserved for tolerated institutional critique,” as some artists do in order to “help them clear their conscience.” For sure. There are always artworks, or art “actions,” that are situated outside the art world or that “cross-list” themselves in and outside the golden ghettos. I am still not persuaded that we need to choose. There is so far no end to art that adopts a critical stance—although perhaps not always in the market and success machine itself, where it is always in danger of being seriously rewritten, often in a process that just takes time. It is this gap between the work’s production and its absorption and neutralization that allows for its proper reading and ability to speak to present conditions.43 It is not the market alone, after all, with its hordes of hucksters and advisers, and bitter critics, that determines meaning and resonance: there is also the community of artists and the potential counterpublics they implicate.

Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat collective) - Pavilion UniCredit: An Artist’s Tale
The artist’s dialogue with the curator was going well until the folks at Pavilion UniCredit got wind of what he was proposing. They informed him (indirectly, via the curator) that their board couldn’t permit anyone to exhibit an attack on their institution (even in the form of an artwork) within the institution itself. And that was that: the artist’s piece, allegedly so crucial to the concept of the show, was disinvited with amazing alacrity and without any further discussion.

Erste Foundation - Who we are. What we are. How we work
We are not a foundation owned by a bank.
We are a foundation that owns a bank.
Our two commitments are based on these historical roots:
ERSTE Foundation safeguards the future of Erste Group as an
independent company and reinvests into the common good through
the activities we develop.

Slavoj Žižek - Good Manners in the Age of WikiLeaks
The ultimate show of power on the part of the ruling ideology is to allow what appears to be powerful criticism. There is no lack of anti-capitalism today. We are overloaded with critiques of the horrors of capitalism: books, in-depth investigative journalism and TV documentaries expose the companies that are ruthlessly polluting our environment, the corrupt bankers who continue to receive fat bonuses while their banks are rescued by public money, the sweatshops in which children work as slaves etc. However, there is a catch: what isn’t questioned in these critiques is the democratic-liberal framing of the fight against these excesses. The (explicit or implied) goal is to democratise capitalism, to extend democratic control to the economy by means of media pressure, parliamentary inquiries, harsher laws, honest police investigations and so on. But the institutional set-up of the (bourgeois) democratic state is never questioned. This remains sacrosanct even to the most radical forms of ‘ethical anti-capitalism’ (the Porto Allegre forum, the Seattle movement etc).

Irit Rogoff - From Criticism to Critique to Criticality
In the project of ‘criticism’ we are mainly preoccupied with the application of values and judgements, operating from a barely acknowledged humanist index of measure sustained in turn by naturalised beliefs and disavowed interests. The project of ‘critique’ which negated that of ‘criticism’ through numerous layers of poststructuralist theory and the linked spheres of sexual difference and post colonialism, has served as an extraordinary examination of all of the assumptions and naturalised values and thought structures that have sustained the inherited truth claims of knowledge.

Boris Groys - The Communist Postscript
As it currently functions in the West, critical discourse thus proves to be astonishingly homogeneous. It is always the same things being criticized with the same arguments.

Hito Steyerl - Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Postdemocracy
A standard way of relating politics to art assumes that art represents political issues in one way or another. But there is a much more interesting perspective: the politics of the field of art as a place of work.1 Simply look at what it does—not what it shows.

Amongst all other forms of art, fine art has been most closely linked to post-Fordist speculation, with bling, boom, and bust. Contemporary art is no unworldly discipline nestled away in some remote ivory tower. On the contrary, it is squarely placed in the neoliberal thick of things. We cannot dissociate the hype around contemporary art from the shock policies used to defibrillate slowing economies. Such hype embodies the affective dimension of global economies tied to ponzi schemes, credit addiction, and bygone bull markets. Contemporary art is a brand name without a brand, ready to be slapped onto almost anything, a quick face-lift touting the new creative imperative for places in need of an extreme makeover, the suspense of gambling combined with the stern pleasures of upper-class boarding school education, a licensed playground for a world confused and collapsed by dizzying deregulation. If contemporary art is the answer, the question is: How can capitalism be made more beautiful?

Hito Steyerl - Is a Museum a Factory?
The conservative response to the exodus of political films (or video installations) to the museum is to assume that they are thus losing relevance. It deplores their internment in the bourgeois ivory tower of high culture. The works are thought to be isolated inside this elitist cordon sanitaire—sanitized, sequestered, cut off from “reality.” Indeed, Jean-Luc Godard reportedly said that video installation artists shouldn’t be “afraid of reality,” assuming of course that they in fact were.6

Where is reality then? Out there, beyond the white cube and its display technologies? How about inverting this claim, somewhat polemically, to assert that the white cube is in fact the Real with a capital R: the blank horror and emptiness of the bourgeois interior.

Franco Berardi Bifo - Exhaustion and Senile Utopia of the Coming European Insurrection
Social movements should focus on a founding myth of European history: the myth of energy. Modern culture and political imagination have emphasized the virtues of youth, of passion and energy, aggressiveness and growth. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of physical energy, and semiocapitalism has subjugated the nervous energy of society to the point of collapse. The notion of exhaustion has always been anathema to the discourse of modernity, of romantic Sturm und Drang, of the Faustian drive to immortality, the endless thirst for economic growth and profit, the denial of organic limits
In late modernity, this depiction became an essential feature of advertising. But contrary to Fascist discourse, late modern advertising did not abuse old age, but denied it, claiming that every old person could be young if he or she would simply accept to partake in the consumerist feast.
This is the lesson that Europe may learn if it can come out from the capitalist obsession with accumulation, property, and greed. In a reversal of the energetic subjectivation that animated the revolutionary theories of the twentieth century, radicalism should abandon the mode of activism, and adopt a passive mode. A radical passivity would dispel the ethos of relentless productivity that neoliberal politics has imposed. The mother of all the bubbles, the bubble of work, would finally deflate. We have been working too much over the past three or four centuries, and outrageously too much over the last thirty years. If a creative consciousness of exhaustion could arise, the current depression may mark the beginning of a massive abandonment of competition, consumerist drive, and dependence on work.