Loiter, Loot and Mess Up

9 Sep

No, Comrades, it doesn’t help. To get out of it isn’t an option. No revolutions were won by standing on the outside shouting at the bourgeoisie. Hell no, there is only one thing to do: stay in the middle and fight for your life. Sleep with your enemy as they say, but OMG where is the enemy now… to sleep with your enemy today is nothing else than furious masturbation.

Think about it. This is all about going big, biggest, about convincing the middle that it is time to take farewell of the past. Somebody recently said that we in the twenty-first century are backing into the future mourning what we leave behind. This is how we deal with the crisis, any crisis, trying desperately to return to a past that we know fucked us up. Perhaps we manage for a moment by adjusting a little this or a little that, but the name of the game stays the same and at best what we can do is to postpone the moment when hell breaks loose. The only serious way to deal with crisis is to give up the present paradigm and invent new models of life, art or dance. It is high time that we turn to the future, face it straight up and don’t hesitate to jump into it. Oh yes, the future is a terrible place, but hey it sure can’t get much worse than our current situation.

So what do we do? To go marginal is not an option. To hang about at a tiny and oh so radical festival in the north of Finland admiring each other, slapping each other’s backs for repeating the same radical gesture one more time? To act in the margins is comfortable. It’s not so difficult to convince those that already are your friends. We all want to belong and in the tiny circle there is no problem, we all agree about how radical we are and how important our mission is for the bigger picture. To take the position of the outsider equals when armed pacifism transforms into weapon fetishism. And one day we will realize that although our guns were loaded it was only with salt. The most dangerous position for the arts, next to general cynicism, is to fall in love with its own radicalism, to fetishize ones own revolutionary spirit.

Lately a self-proclaimed outsider has shown up on the art market. When institutional critique has finally been incorporated by conscious museum directors and, maybe not but possibly, festival directors, the race seems to be over. The logical step would be to step out and set up camp somewhere else, start a community, gather believers, but no, not anymore. The outside has already been incorporated in the capacity of the inside, so now the celebrated artist use the outside to remain inside as radicalized. We move out of the institutions in order to boost our value on the inside. We make a little excursion into a known territory of instability and a little bit later we show the documents of our endeavor at a museum show. Or why not, advertise our outside in a worldwide newsletter. OMG, an e-flux message just popped up in my inbox. Unitednationsplaza was a brilliant marketing stunt, congratulations, but isn’t it a bit too transparent what is at stake when the same nations plaza invites a bunch of top notch artists to celebrate the outside as simply amazing. Today the Finnish festival, when performed by the right players, has become an eminent playground for extended cool-factor. To set up a free, or non-aligned university, that of course is deeply critical to anything Bologna, today is as revolutionary, or cool, as having dinner at a restaurant owned by Jamie Oliver. You just have to book your table in time.

“-But even if those educational things aren’t proposing anything revolutionary aren’t they at least something else than the regular museum, with its empty however mandatory lecture series?” Yeah sure, at least but that at least is precisely as at least as communism with a human face.
However it hurts me we have to give up on revolutions. There is nothing to substitute the paving stone. To burn some cars doesn’t make anything than you and me a little happier. Everybody knows that activism proper is past tense and makes absolutely no difference but has become simple self-representation, identity politics. No, we have to march back into the museums, back into the festivals, and set out to fight a war. Me as little as you knows what for but the first struggle is to find out what it is that we struggle for or against, but there is no other place to do it than in the middle. And I believe we have to do it dressed up in theatrical costumes and start using theatre as a means to unground contexts and conventions. It is time to use illusion to fight illusions of democracy, equality or fair play.

The only way out is in. Let’s get back into business, and fight a war not on the mainstream but straight in the heart of it all. This is the only way that previously depoliticized masses can turn into political subjects.

To set out to produce alternative structures is a no go. It will just be understood as cute self-organization. To struggle for new strategies is equally fucked. Self-precarization is a total cul-de-sac, or from another perspective to make oneself a “Tino Sehgal” – That Was So Contemporary (“-Courtesy of the artist, 2005”). The war in the institution has to be fought through a mechanics that can only take place through tactical betrayal of all sides. You know, directors of museums don’t fear graves, not even empty graves, but they do fear mess, looted and messed up graves. Tacticity is a matter of being absolutely obvious and overtly theatrical, but make sure never to be faithful to the principles you have laid down for yourself.

Next time you receive a commission it is your goddamn duty to fuck it up. Blame the commissioner, it’s not your fault you just did what you were supposed to: loitered, looted and messed up.

One Response to “Loiter, Loot and Mess Up”

  1. Billy-Bob Thornton September 9, 2010 at 11:11 #

    I like what you write, but I think you are too eager to make use-value out of a proposed course of action, for politicising action is a bit like hoping for a ballet to be beautiful. An aesthetic criterion, waiting to be fulfilled (then reproduced innuendo). So much for revolution.

    Instrumentalization of ones work should only be a part of aquiring funds (if it makes the difference) in a game of lying.

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