Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unfinished Business...

Bernadette Corporation @ Greene Naftali

When asked to summarize normative trends in contemporary art in a (somewhat) recent Texte Zur Kunst, Alex Alberro concludes with the following:

"With the ideals of the institution of art and of other Enlightenment institutions in ruins, contemporary artists who continue to work in - and rework - the legacy of the artistic avant-garde are left to choose between contemplating the moribund cultural apparatus and engaging with social conflicts far beyond it. The most interesting contemporary art fuses these irreconcilable positions."

Despite its strangely oedipal, Kramer vs. Kramer intimations, Alberro's curt last sentence does speak with great relevance to the considerable crisis of criticality within the exhibition of contemporary art today, be it in a kunsthalle or on mediafire. The core division of contemporary critique between a practice of constituent activism and a practice of self-reflexive participation is certainly an antagonizing dilemma for those who find themselves on either side of this landfill-allergic chasm; where, to generalize, the activist is haunted by the (cynical?) participant's custodial concern for (however ruined) aesthetic traditions and its attendant publicity, subsequently the participant seems haunted by the activist's idealized political "integrity" of by-passing such a custodianship. Even though both positions are undeniably palpable solutions to the potential aporia of exhibiting/activating critique within the capitalist cultural apparatus, the bone I wish to pick has to do with the death that encouraged such a split, that of the Enlightened art institution as it collapsed into the ruins of culture industries.

Like a horror film villain, it is easy to declare something (an idea, a community, a subject, etc.) dead for the sake of narrative clarity, yet only to allow such a "something" to given its its fiscally solvency. This fiscal logic, the fluid sense of undying forms, is predicated on the desire to witness the ascesis of the sensible and ethical (with its narrative materializations) trangressed into guilt-free pleasure. If a cultural form resists death to the point of "rebirth", did it ever die in the first place? That is, if desire (with its never-hesitant de/re-territorializing reboots) is the wellspring of subjective formation, does "death" even exist? When looking at the "moribund" cultural apparatus, the object so central to contemporary art's claim on criticality, is it truly deserving of such death rattles? Or instead might it be that "death" is in fact a libidinally-deprived object always open to ecstatic remortaging, thus always open to the possibility of its existence over whatever silence is brokered by its discursive "death"? Would it be then that the history of contemporary art, as it is proceeds from its "modern" origins, through the actualization such a cluster of libidinal desires be better represented through gestures that seem life-endowing rather than death-ennabling?

-----------------------------notes--------------------------------




where laibach self-consciously merged the ecstasies of the fascist ritual with europe's emergent club/rave culture, its little german nephew Rammstein managed to graft the erotics of the fascist body onto the turn of the millenium cryptohomo gym culture...

overidentification> nsk, posing as an idol as demonstration of this televisual fascism's very hollowness, like miming, the clearly inverted postmodern subject where political form becomes aesthetic practicet>>>bernadette corporation, a dispersal of hypercapitalist forms, its proliferating organless bodies positioned as the aesthetics of postsubject politics.

nsk's avowed purposeness is certainly what dates it, its attempt to reclaim politics for the avant garde or even as the avant garde, since it is this very purposeness that inspires the more insipid and tacky culture jammers of the present day--which i believe runs a deeply vast gamut from something like the yes men, coco fusco and overproduced, overdetermined politicized pretensions of what can generically be termed "biennial art." the rhizomatic production of BC is a better heir.

Power's construction of "human" feeling: the ecstasy of the fascist ritual or the melancholic imprisonment of neoliberalism--why should one be deprived the base feelings historically perveted by their ritualization? now i don't mean to position sentiment or feeling as a means of recovering a subject in it absence (there is no subject to alienate, rather the subject is construed in its alienation), rather the sentimental intensity of being held (captive or free) as a subject of power is not something to dismiss; especially within an artistic context whose ideal goal (in my estimation) is the exposure of such an intensity, the very conditions of "being-held"-ness, to the viewer. Given the ethical tradition of interpreting power as either good or evil, in subcultural music especially, one sees the cultural reaction to this subjectivization bisecting into two representations: "good" neo-ascetism/iconoclasm (sXe, veganism, andrea zittel, etc.) and the "bad" mimicry of baroque capitalist/fascist rituals (skinheads, satanism, neo-paganism, etc.); pulling these two methods, the right and left hand path of cultural resistance, into seemingly unconsolable opposition. Yet anyone who has ever stared at a yin-yang might know the solution: two opposite entities whose mingling weaves the veil of Maya cast over our eyes

unlike many of their contemporaries, BC's overidentification with the neoliberal ego never directly occupies the historically coded avatars of "art." It is one of the few anartistic beyonds that manages to find one (of many) homes in a gallery.

Money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money. - Gertrude Stein

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