History and repetition appear to have been a slight problem for the 20th century man. Never have we seen such a hysterical relation to preservation. Why; what’s good with veteran cars, with vintage sneakers, old buildings? Bulldoze the crap away. Look you don’t become an imperialist just because you want something to go. Just because buildings are old they are not cute or climate friendly, no they are discriminating, fucks ecology (which might be a plus) and stuck is aesthetically repulsive. Move out!
History hasn’t been good, but only through remembering can we avoid making the same mistakes again. A paradox builds on an idea that history proceeds without collapses, without holes, ruptures or radical paradigm shifts, but crawls along the axis of time like a snail leaving a trace behind itself to know how to find the way back home again. Consistently history has left a trace and its presence has faced the future. The trace has had different qualities and sometimes consisted of some slimy goo that made time crawl even slower. There is still a trace but today the snail seems to crawl with the rear-end first and exploring the next cool thing with its ass instead of with its tentacles. Enough of metaphors, I’m not a poet, I’m not an architect from Brazil.
If history is to repeat itself it also has to remain the same, remain at last identical in respect of kind. Repetition, in the sense of history, as well as variation lives on the ability to maintain oneself as one. Thus remembering history not only makes repetition possible but insists on its repetition. Obviously change is not enough. Change is gradual and not a breach. Change is positive and not connected to some terror, it’s open and kind of a better version. Change in 2010 equals upgrade, and repetition is inscribed so handy. The way out of the trap of repetition implies a bigger risk, not a change within history, or the historical development, what is needed is to change what history itself is. History as we know it is open and forgiving, sympathetic and violent enough to disgust us, but never bad enough to make us kick it out of the system.
Stop making reconstructions. Just stop it. Dance and choreography is in a bad enough state as it is. We don’t need to dive back into its more or less tacky past, it is already horrible and it will not get better if we turn to already used material. Let it rot.
Whatever you think you are doing when you resurrect older pieces, when you do Trisha Brown’s “Accumulations” with your students or force them to dance something so embarrassing as “Trio A”? Every time they dance some of the so admirable 60s stuff they are not operating here and now, every time you have your students do contraction they are not doing here and now. Reconstruction is nice, it’s sympathetic and good. In school it violates the students and makes them admire, but as the person reconstructing the whatever piece basically never met the choreographer but does it like third, fourth, fifth hand it is all in the wrong sense. However, it is of course so much better than to have to listen to the artist’s anecdotes about how amazing it was when… and circumstances this and that, and New York at that time, how… Jezuz, save me from reconstruction. Save me from Yvonne Rainer, and save me from Deborah Hay. And save me from all others who want to make money on past sins. Stand up loser, if you don’t have anything better to offer than surveilling history then stay home, close the door one last time and stay home. I prefer mucho better that history repeats itself than to have to endure the original or a reconstructed “Trio A”.
And for you who reconstruct other people’s work, shape up: we know that you are just doing it for the sake of money, value, fame. If it was important for you, and not for the market, why don’t you just keep it in the studio? Oh, the programmer saw it by accident and you were totally innocent. No, you are just too mediocre to do anything decent and need someone else’s wave to surf, and so does the programmer. Obviously it is perfect, if you do a reconstruction of whatever, the programmer can make money on both you and the choreographer that you reconstruct. Oh, you think you do it for some kind of historical accuracy, and what do we need that for? You think it is important for others to get to know about this and that piece, why? Because you want to say you invented it, found it… Because you want to reclaim your history stolen away from you by performance studies? But hey, was it that good, let them have it. They didn’t just take the good part they also took all that crap that your countrymen did that’s a little bit embarrassing. Let the Americans have it.
Even more compromised is exhibitions that attempt to draft a narrative through recent history in respect of some more or less pertinent notion. Stop resurrecting old pieces, stop it stop it. Especially stuff from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Nothing is getting better because there is something from that time around. Stop it. Permanent collections are fine but damn that’s another story. How many times do I have to see that time delay piece from Dan Graham, how many times do I have to consider that horrible corridor by Bruce Nauman, and even worse [I know I’m a racist] how many times do I have to encounter Lygia Clark. Leave it behind, leave it behind. Fuck those rubber bands, forget that plastic net to carry home you fruit, and especially forget about these big pieces where you are supposed to sense whatever it is yourself and your spirit. No, thanks. I don’t want anymore, and you know those piece are just there because the dead artists foundation thinks it’s a good idea, and because you are a coward. Every time, e-ve-ry time you put up a Clark you are not exhibiting somebody else woman, Brazilian or anything else. Every time you insist on Graham, fuck you. I like it too but hey why the hell do you have a museum store. The reason why you want to show those things is because you have no better ideas and most of all because it feels good, cuz everybody else did before you.
Stop the archives. Forbid them. I don’t want to have to see people sitting in there with head phones and a flat screen being fascinated by Ana Mendieta. She was, and oh she was so before her time, but not anymore. Make a hole and put it all away. And when you are anyways at it, dig a hole for Mike Kelley as well, he is, he is, he is the Woody Allen of visual art. Spit on him, or no spit on the place where the hole was where you buried all that crap. Spit on it.
I like history, but not this one. I don’t like any versions of it, and certainly not today when history also has become commodity. History is excellent and it’s all so contemporary. Yet it is time to turn to history, to turn back. Not around, it is time to turn back, to a moment, to historical instance, to which our contemporary discourse is not compatible. We have to turn back to history constructed on another paradigm, on another mood of thinking, on a way of coping with the world that we are simply foreign to. We have to stop making ourselves open to our history and instead turn to a history that is so closed, so locked away, so hard and stubborn that that only way to deal with it is by changing who we are.
No, I’m not interested in repeating it, or to re-live it. I don’t cherish feudalism, knights, dirt, slavery and which burning or whatever, but in turning to history that cannot be understood. Engagement in something incompatible to our own historical paradigm is the only way that we can change history in a radical sense, by making ourselves open to an absolute closed system, not because it is “closes” but because it does in no respect belong to us. Only then can we produce a history that wont promise to repeat it self, that want make us feel fine, but actually shiver of fear. Time machines is not enough, no no it just criss cross between known moments in history, we need a time war machine, an apparatus that can catapult us out of our very understanding of time itself. Perhaps it is not we that needs to be or not afraid of repeating history, but we should instead offer our self like a good meal to history to make it repeat us. It will be catastrophically unpleasant, a morbid festival. Make yourself a fresh meal for history.