Obviously non of you guys believed anything that I wrote yesterday. You all understood that it was just a small town joke, a teenage prank, some sort of attempt to play hard to get but still playing. I take it all back, all that I said yesterday about almost everything. I’ve been in the US for far too long, so damn long that I’ve started to practice their disgusting sense of diplomacy, this malevolent mode of inclusivity, this openness that only resonates of the emptiness of affordance and investment. This is disaster, I hate myself, what have this continent done to me? I’ve become that soft stuff that people call Jell-O, this is monstrous.
How could I be so tediously tender to performance art, social and engaged practices, when in fact I’m simply looking down on them. People that devote their life to socially engaged artistic practices have lost their minds. During my child hood summers my grand mother worked as a voluntary nurse at the beach, I liked that and she liked it too. She was hanging out in this little hut and once in a while somebody showed up with a splinter in the foot. Socially engaged practice not very artistic but colorful plasters.
Socially engaged artistic practices, should either look for funding somewhere else or not at all. The art council or where ever else we find funding is not there to help out in moments of societal asymmetries. Shoot, lots of people and lots of projects should totally get supported and assisted but it is not the art council’s job to fund project and actions that concern social, mental and whatever welfare. Especially not in 2013, it is when the wind blows hard and cold that we have to insist on the importance of an art council that funds art and aesthetic production, not well-meaning instrumental projects that allows the responsible authorities be busy with something else. The moment the art council, the local dance venue or some museum is funding social work the appropriate agencies is not gonna fund it anymore. It is a freakin disaster if the art council becomes a support agency for the education, health etc. authorities. If there’s no money for healthy life, don’t take them from the art council, or even from the rich museum [they aren’t rich], go to the banks, to corporate money, to insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies they have money, that’s where the flow is. Those are the ones that should be convinced about the importance of socially engaged practices not the art council or the freakin’ museum.
But of course, we don’t want to go there. Not at all! Those performance related art activist engaged individuals want to belong to the art, that feels good and there are great opening parties and you document you socially engaged stuff and you have a great something to send around to museums for exhibitions with nice engaged titles. Jezuz. But true, who wants to be a regular social worker, some shelter organizer or even engaged in healthy water. That’s ridiculously sad, that’s like the worst. What do you do when you come home from work being a proper social worker? You have dinner. But when you are a socially engaged artist then what you do? You go for dinner and there you contemplate the beauty of the engagement, how touching the manifestation was, the inner glow of ordinary people and so on in a lukewarm flow of pathetic sentimentality. And you talk about it to others that nod and think about you as a very generous and important person. What you really want is just a career in the artistic sector.
Twenty or fifty years ago socially or anything engaged artistic practices were rare, extremely rare. It wasn’t part of art’s job description to help out or to be a nice guy. Still art was instrumental to society, either as an educational capacity for grown ups or children or simply because the artist was somebody rare in society that performed a kind of necessary outsider, similar to the village fool in Bachtin. The European welfare state needed the artist. He or she was a productive anomaly that kept things at bay. Super.
Today, things are just a little bit different. The artist is absolutely mainstream, half the freakin’ population in the Western world are artists or engaged in the creative sector. The artist isn’t needed anymore, we are just the result of governments that knows that it’s better that we are artists than unemployed. It would be fairly naïve to think that even the most hostile state policy is not allowing artists to go on with their business because they are valuable for society. Art makes money go around and that’s good for everybody involved, and I don’t just mean for real estate and common gentrification, I mean for everybody and the state. Come on art schools are great for the circulation of money. Artists are super, they are healthy, independent, hard working, creative, restaurant eating, well dressed, perfect. The are totally the heroes of our contemporary society, more heroic than CEO, more heroic than athlets.
At the same time the instrumentality of art has transformed. Today the artist don’t get extra funding for being located in the country side, nor for making dance performance for school kids, nope those times are over. Today it is socially engaged practices that has become instrumental and it’s done in a far more clever manner. Today we make project, and all of us knows it, that rejuvenates grey parts of the city, that engage immigrant kids in the suburbs, that addresses ecological asymmetries or whatever engage in crime intensive part of the city or populations. That are community based, participatory, cross-cultural, an utilize a prominent citizens perspective.
This is great, cuz as long as the artist dig into these issues and does it more or less for free due some idealistic hiccup why spend more money. “Yeah”, says the artist, “but you know we really, we really utilize the art councils money to make a difference, and we see such improvements… “ Tell you something it doesn’t matter. It is not what you do it is that you do it in the first place that is the point, and as long as it is done cities, nations, European councils et. al. can proudly announce that they are investing in better living in dark parts of the city or in more productive life for exposed population. And at the same time you have taken money from what otherwise could make art and sent the money to the department that treated this particular situation ignorantly in the first place. Why not go after them with an axe instead? They might just learn something.
However paradoxical it might sound, the tougher our neo-liberal surrounding become, the more corporate money art is engaged in, the more kickstarter and Crowdsourcing BS [these are disgusting capacities that in no respect what so ever makes any good nothing for the arts. It is fundamentally neo-liberal and exactly to sell out to ignorant middle class audiences that support art that they already know is reasonable. Spit on any artist that has ever used Kick or Crowd, spit on them!] the more important it become to insist on the autonomy and uselessness of art. The more instrumental art is demanded to be, the more social practices flourishes, the more important it is to insist on an art that is true only to it self and universe. Because if we don’t I tell you, soon enough art will be swallowed by semio-capitalism and become the agitprop of venture capitalism.
Listen up. Thirty or something years ago Godard talked about just an image, instead of a justified or morally located image. Choices of images, his own or found were montaged together in ways so that what was made visible was not what was, so to say, in the image but instead the image itself. Such an image is not an image that we can trust or read, instead it is an image we need to approach, fold and give a name, a context, a continuum. Any images or art practice that can be justified outside its own necessity is an image that offers identification or confirmation of the subject, an image or an art that offers a prescriptive ethics and can hence be valued, measured, improved in relation to our present modes of governance. Any image or artistic practice that can be ethically located supports our present political imagination, at least if we agree that capitalism, global market economy and neo-liberal governance has become ubiquitous.
Art is not in the world to be good, to help out, to make the world a better place, it is not here to be a lantern in the dark. Instead art and aesthetic experience is the opportunity to remain in the dark, to not be helpful, to not solve any problems but be just art, just an image beyond ethical prescriptions and well-meaning complacency.
There is no such thing as transparent strategies, they are by definition directional and justified [positively or negatively]. Structures on the other are transparent, they don’t propose direction but are open. In short one could say that strategies sign up to perspective whereas structures open horizons. Horizons don’t make choices they exist, perspectives on the other hand is all about choice, and at that given choices. Knowing that performance is in depth strategic and choreography a matter of structure, we can conclude that only – aha – performance, and especially anything socially engaged by necessity is justified when instead choreography whose very essence is the proliferation of structure or “empty” form implies the possibility of the formulation of just an image.
I take back everything I said yesterday. Choreography and dance don’t and should not want to have anything to do with performance or socially engaged anything at all, and certainly not whatever expanded notion of live art etc. Choreography and dance is not to be mixed up and cross-fertilized with whatever the cat has dragged in. Choreography is an autonomous practice that is in no respect helpful or ethically agreeable, it is not directional or has anything to offer, but exactly because of this it carries the potentiality of a radically empty image – just an image – an image that can’t be read or interpreted but must be produced, be given a name – therefore choreography carries within itself the potentiality to change how things change. Fuck performance let’s dance.