"Art, Conflict & The Politics of Memory" Part I


Part I of the Art, Art History & Visual Studies Doctoral Student Speaker Series, "Art Conflict and the Politics of Memory," organized by Ivana Bago, Laura Moure Cecchini and I. Link here. Photos below.
Duke Professor Esther Gabara speaking with Dartmouth Professor Mary K. Coffey about her fantastic paper on Meso-American prophecy, José Clementé Orozco (details of his mural above), and Walter Benjamin.

Duke Professor Pedro Lasch Syking with the activist and artist Milica Tomić. Below,
Milica Tomić,  “Container” image from a Forensic Performance –(Re) Construction of the Crime.


Some heartening (?) thoughts c/o Deleuze the night before I leave for the CAA Conference.

       Art is just territorial pissing,
  ....or some other sort of angry display.
and talking is dirty.... But nothing is so shameful as the intellectuals who travel only to do so.


oldest trick in the book

Waking lion from Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925) 


We are not the ones using obscure language: intellectuals in Godard's La Chinoise

So this means you're leaving the university?
Leaving if you want. I'm breaking with a widespread attitude....

Isn't Vietnam an actor? Yes, Vietnam.
We are not the ones using obscure language! It's our society which hermetic and closed....


Emergency Currency

I get excited about banknotes but more exciting than official banknotes are emergency banknotes. From the days when Germans used wheelbarrows as purses: 
Steinburg, 5 Marks, 1918

"Notgeld (emergency currency) was issued by cities, boroughs, even private companies while there was a shortage of official coins and bills. Nobody would pay in coins while their nominal value was less than the value of the metal. And when inflation went on, the state was just unable to print bills fast enough. Some companies couldn't pay their workers because the Reichsbank just couldn't provide enough bills. So they started to print their own money - they even asked the Reichsbank beforehand. As long as the Notgeld was accepted, no real harm was done and it just was a certificate of debt. Often it was even a more stable currency than real money, as sometimes the denomination was a certain amount of gold, dollars, corn, meat, etc."

These are all from the flickr site of Miguel Oks. 
(Thanks to Michael Shick for sending these my way).


Whole Earth to Whole Foods

My growing collection of tracts and manuals from the yippie and intentional communities movements from the seventies was recently entered into a Rare Book Competition at Duke. My collection, most of which I'd picked up in used book-shops, included Jerry Rubin’s Do it! (1970), Viktoras Kulvinskas’ paranoiac Survival into the 21st Century (1975) Robert de Ropp’s meticulously detailed homesteading manual, Eco-Tech (1975), and of course Stuart Brand’s meta-database The Whole Earth Catalog (1971) which is currently the conceit for a great exhibition curated by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

In my statement I wanted to explain my appeal for these books, describing my interest in the "how-to" manual as a genre. As the ancestor of the homesteading manual and the precursor of the DIY zine (or now, more generically, about.com) the "manual" quite radically cuts out the middle-man and the expenses of training.

However, I also wanted to show the other secret attraction of these books, which is that the manual also allows for the formation of an alternative identity, functioning as an aide in self-actualization/ transformation.

Ironically, it is to this very radical movement of intentional communities that we owe the greenwashed environmentalism of today. I stressed that perhaps the manuals were almost too effective, and that eventually, the radical subjectivities associated with the intentional communities movement were commodified, its fonts and design sensibilities were raided. The middle man was brought back into the picture, not as Whole Earth but as "Whole Foods".


Société Anonyme

The art collected from 1920-1940 by the Société Anonyme, Inc. (Duchamp, Man Ray and Katherine Dreier) is on display now at the The Yale University Art Gallery.


The Principle of Mimicry

When held in hand, one barely notices the difference between these two coins minted by successive French political regimes – the July Monarchy (1830-1848) and the Second Republic (1848-1852). In the latter (the coin from 1851)the young Marianne  (allegory of the Republic) cuts a similar profile to that of her monarchic foil, the double-chinned King Louis Philippe, Duc d'Orleans. Likewise, on the tails side, the only difference with the new Republican coin is the slogan: " Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité."


Art Farce, Salon des Independents, 1910.

Et le soleil s'endormait sur l'adriatique by J.R. Boronali (1910)

"J.R. Boronali" and the painting in progress. 
Bottom image and caption from The Art World, May 1917.


Modernism, the young John Maynard Keynes, and the art market

Merve Emre describes how writings on art by Bloomsbury member and patron John Maynard Keynes can be seen as adumbrations of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) at The Modernism Lab


Kanga translations

            More on Kanga at the British Museum website.


Having a Telephone is Boring. Not Having a Telephone is Boring

I applaud all ideas, but nothing else, only the ideas interest me and not what gravitates around them, profiting from ideas disgusts me. "One has to live," you tell me? You know as well as I that our existence is short compared to the profit one can gain from an invention; we're on the earth since the day before yesterday and we'll die tomorrow. Cubism was born one morning only to die that evening, then Dada appeared and was, actually, just as ephemeral. The evolution continues; some person will find the name of a new package for a bygone spirit, and so forth.

The Dada spirit only really existed from 1913 to 1918, an era during which it
never stopped evolving and transforming itself. After that time, it became as
uninteresting as the output of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts or the static elucubrations
offered by the Nouvelle Revue Francaise and certain members of the Institute. In the
attempt to prolong its life, Dada has closed in upon itself. I am sorry if, with these
lines, I'm wounding friends whom I love dearly, or disturbing certain colleagues
who perhaps are counting on a profit from Dadaism!

I couldn't tell you what will happen at this point; all I can assure you is that
our state of mind is not the same as it was from 1913 to 1920 (if you like), and that consequently it will show itself differently. Don't think that I'm standing in my shirtsleeves at midnight in July, contemplating the moon, don't worry, I have my good sense-if there is such a thing as good sense! What I am sure of is that it is impossible to stop movement. Money itself has value-or it doesn't; paper would perhaps be worth more than gold if it were given to me to discover gold mines as large as the coal pits of Cardiff. People class individuals into two categories: "unserious" and "serious."No one until now has been able to explain to me what a serious man is. I will make the attempt here myself. I think that you call a man serious when he is able to provide for his neighbors, his family, his friends, on condition that to these ends he put the interest on his capital to work. An unserious man is one who confuses interest with capital, and doesn't seek to make dollars with his ideas-from an artistic viewpoint, a copyist at the Louvre will always be more serious than I am! Dada, you see, was not serious, and that is why it won over the world like wildfire. If some people take it seriously now, that's because it's dead! Many people will call me a killer, but they're deaf and shortsighted. Anyway, there are no killers; are tuberculosis and typhoid killers? Are we in control of our lives? In my opinion, there is only one killer, the one who created the world. But, since no one created the world, there are no killers, Dada will live forever! And thanks to that, art dealers will make their fortune, publishers will treat themselves to cars, writers will get the Legion of Honor, and I ... will stay Francis Picabia!

One must be a nomad, traveling through ideas as one travels through countries and cities, eating parakeets and hummingbirds, swallowing live marmosets, sucking the blood of giraffes, feeding on the feet of panthers! One must sleep with gulls, dance with a boa constrictor, make love with heliotropes, and wash one's feet in vermilion! One must disguise church interiors as ocean liners and ocean liners as artichokes with cream, make statues come out of the sea and recite verses to passing steamers, go out naked then put on a tuxedo at home; one must hear confessors' confessions, never again see the people one knows, above all, never put the same woman twice in one's bed, unless one has a mistress who cheats on you every day with a new lover! All that is a lot easier than the faith of a copper- smith, who always laughs at what's funny and finds black dark and white light. The coppersmith warms up in the sun because he's cold; don't be cold, and you'll see how much the sun looks like rain!

Existence is tolerable really only on condition that one lives among people who have no ulterior motives, no opportunists, but that would be asking the impossible...Talent doesn't exist, masterpieces are just documents, truth is the pivot on the scale. Everything is boring, no? Falling leaves are boring, new leaves are boring, heat is boring, cold is boring. Grandfather clocks that don't chime are boring, those that do chime are boring. Having a telephone is boring, not having a telephone is boring. People who die are boring, just as are those who don't! Look how badly the world is put together, why doesn't our brain have the force of our desires? But all that matters very little, paintings in museums are masterpiece- fossils. A man is called tasteful because he shares the taste of others; for you, life is a guitar on which one plucks only the same tune forever. 

Translated by Matthew S. Witkovsky.
Francis Picabia, "M. Picabia se sépare des dadas," Comoedia, May 11, 1921, reprinted in Francis Picabia, Ecrits 2, ed. Olivier Revault d'Allonnes (Paris: P. Belfond, 1978), pp. 14-15. 


Sociological Walk in another Brooklyn

September 8 (@4pm) French conceptual artist Fred Forest replicates his infamous 1973 sociological excursion through working-class neighborhood of Brooklin, São Paolo. Given that this time he is starting on N.7th street, (the heart of the party, so to speak) the tour should be an incisive study. Curated by the awesome Ruth Erickson.


Venice Biennale Posts

Reporting on the 54th Venice Biennale for Black Book, in three posts. The last one is best.

1 Smells Like Art
2 Institutional Critique and Nationalism
3 You Never Sausage a Place


Noelle Kocot, poet.

Interviewed by Claire Wilcox here.


The Serving Library

Donate here.
More information and statement of purpose here.

I interview conceptual artist Iain Baxter& for Art in America


1/31/2011. From the NY Times. Photo Credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill/ AP


Not Not Not Not Unreal

By my buddy Jon Clark and Spencer Longo. The effect is unreal. The FX are mostly done in camera.


q week of using french keyboards

qnd qll my A's hqve turned to Q's.


On archival 'fever'

"Can its underlying cause be expediently diagnosed as a generic effect of globalization, as anxiety over theses on “the end of history” (from Alexander Kojève to Francis Fukuyama), or the failure of utopian paradigms and loss of faith in western notions of historical causality and progress? For art historians and critics, this is a deeply paradoxical state of affairs because the unraveling of historical paradigms, especially those beholden to a teleological, revolutionary temporal logic, suggests we should no longer put our faith in future retrospective viewpoints or judgments. However, we have yet to invent satisfying critical-historical alternatives to looking forward or looking back as we live in the present. A heightened historical, sense of self-reflexivity, in the spirit of the sort found in the work of Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor, is indispensable."

More of Vivian Rehberg's crisp essay in Jeu de Paume's Le Magazine this month.



disco party 9-5

Seth Price's bumpin 8-hour work mix here. Tests at my "day job" are already in process.
Seth Price: I didn’t have a particular use in mind. I was thinking about work days, where different sets of working hours represent different kinds of work and different cultural areas: a union job, an office job, an art gallery, a boutique… But it’s true, I liked the fact that the track could be played perfectly, start to finish, during an 8-hour work day, so yes, a work mix, why not.
-from an interview with Boško Blagojević, here.


Dispersion and Jogging.com

I saw David Joselit deliver a lecture on the subject of dispersion and circulation last winter.  He began by asking: How do we produce value and meaning in a world of overproduction? He answered with the following: The only way to derive "meaning" from art is by "moving it"*:

Joselit described how we now rely on an "epistemology of search" to identify value in art. And this value has been untethered from material and assigned to the amorphous bonds that combine unlike objects (telecommunications, human relations).  Rules for this epistemology are as follows:
1. images multiply
2. value is produced by circulation
3. objects are constituted (ie: an object d'art is designated a 'work of art').

With this in mind, I am reminded of a  new crowd-sourced curatorial project on jogging.com:

Jogging will now enter an experimental mode of image distribution called Positive Feedback. ..... 
.......We ultimately hope for the entire blog to become a self-regulatory process, allowing viewers the chance to both create content and vote on the relevance of that content to Jogging’s brand for inclusion. When this end is reached, Jogging will become the first artistic ‘being’ to be associated with an anonymous and endless number of identities– a form of production we feel makes the most efficient use of the possibilities our digital location provokes and is most relevant to the blog’s political aim of encouraging a decentralized system of distribution (and creation) for art.

I am looking through the anonymous images on Jogging.com since the project has been initiated: sliced Jpeg of two baseball hats against one another and two different colored woods. A totem pole with a bear carved into it, fitted with an airline head-rest. Barbara Streisand's home. They are so full of signifiers and so empty at once that they are exhausting, which is good.Value is not derived from these because they are contemplative and significant but if I, and enough people "Like" them/reblog, their value increases.

As surely the makers know all too well, the project is the successful envisioning (as a online curatorial project) of what was discussed in an AUDC (Sumrell/Varnelis) essay,  "Revenge Against Objects" in 2006. Post-modern society, they write, no longer has need for material culture. Of course,  "All objects are now wild signs, free-floating signifiers unable to represent anything specific themselves, part of the mechanism of circulation, which has become a goal in and of itself."


Benjamin Crotty and Gabriel Abrantes

   Poor boy falls for daughter of Chinese neo-colonialists in Angola,  
with the arcs, score, and stilted dialogue of Hollywood narrative film. The improbable is now plausible. 
Liberdade, at the Palais de Tokyo (23 mins).