Candidacy Training, 12 Nov, 18h30, Fabrica de Pensule;
The Candidates Convention, 13 Nov, 18h00, Casa Tranzit.
The Candidates announced till now: Veda Popovici, Mihai Lukacs, Ion Dumitrescu, Florin Flueras, the list is open.
|Charity hostesses making their appearance on uplifting jodler-tune|
|Charity Gala auf Deutsch für unsere Sponsoren|
|The Charity team singing We are the World (Karaoke)|
|With the audience together|
|The start of the acts of giving|
|Florin Flueras offering darkness to Vienna|
|Alina Popa offering freedom to talk-alone|
|Ion Dumitrescu offering Bulgarian time signature|
|Claude Karnoouh live from Bucharest for the Viennese people|
|film still from Luis Bunuel's 1965 film Simon of the Desert|
|Photo: Ali Taptik|
The immovable walls and the iron curtains that divided the two worlds were wiped out in a few days. The Eastern governments allowed the Leninist party to fall so that the integrated spectacle could be completely realized in their countries. In the same way, the West had already renounced a while ago the balance of powers as well as real freedom of thought and communication in the name of the electoral machine of majority vote and of media control over public opinion - both of which had developed within the totalitarian modern states.
Timisoara, Romania, represents the extreme point of this process, and deserves to give its name to the new turn in world politics. Because there the secret police had conspired against itself in order to overthrow the old concentrated-spectacle regime while television showed, nakedly and without false modesty, the real political function of the media. Both television and secret police, therefore, succeeded in doing something that Nazism had not even dared toimagine: to bring Auschwitz and the Reichstag fire together in one monstrous event. For the first time in the history of humankind, corpses that had just been buried or lined up on the morgue’s tables were hastily exhumed and tortured in order to simulate, in front of the video cameras, the genocide that legitimized the new regime. What the entire world was watching live on television, thinking it was the real truth, was in reality the absolute nontruth; and, although the falsification appeared to be sometimes quite obvious, it was nevertheless legitimized as true by the media’s world system, so that it would be clear that the true was, by now, nothing more than a moment within the necessary movement of the false. In this way, truth and falsity became indistinguishable from each other and the spectacle legitimized itself solely through the spectacle.
Timisoara is, in this sense, the Auschwitz of the age of the spectacle: and in the same way in which it has been said that after Auschwitz it is impossible to write and think as before, after Timisoara it will be no longer possible to watch television in the same way.
How can thought collect Debord’s inheritance today, in the age of the complete triumph of the spectacle?
It is evident, after all, that the spectacle is language, the very communicativity and linguistic being of humans. This means that an integrated Marxian analysis should take into consideration the fact that capitalism (or whatever other name we might want to give to the process dominating world history today) not only aimed at the expropriation of productive activity, but also, and above all, at the alienation of language itself, of the linguistic and communicative nature of human beings, of that logos in which Heraclitus identifies the Common. The extreme form of the expropriation of the Common is the spectacle, in other words, the politics in which we live. But this also means that what we encounter in the spectacle is our very linguistic nature inverted. For this reason (precisely because what is being expropriated is the possibility itself of a common good), the spectacle’s violence is so destructive; but, for the same reason, the spectacle still contains something like a positive possibility - and it is our task to use this possibility against it.
(From Giorgio Agamben - Marginal Notes on Comments on the Society of the Spectacle.)
In Romania during the so called "communist period" there was what they called "the resistance through culture". In the sense that some artists and intellectuals didn't compromise to praise the dictator, but at the same time they didn't take any risks, they went with the regime doing their art and now they pretend that they were dissidents. They are very badly judged now. They are called "collaborators". Paradoxically they are more badly judged than the obvious collaborators. People accuse them that it was their responsibility to criticize the regime and because they didn't do it, they legitimized the regime. It was their responsibility to set how the struggle should look like and what they provided was a kind of a fake resistance, succeeding in this way to steal potential from other kinds of resistance.(1)
Same now. There is the obvious collaboration, the clear example being the "creative industries" and the artists that are "sent" in problematic places, in slums, between immigrants or in "emergent" countries to prepare the terrain for "democracy" and capital - the stalkers of capital, like in the past the catholic priests were send in colonies to introduce the christianity and the economic thinking.
But more problematic is the fake resistance, the subtle collaboration. The so called "political art", the majority of "critical theory" that are carefully attentive not to pass some clear limits. It is problematic because they are setting the tone of how the resistance and critique in society should look like.
Analyzing how media works, Chomsky noticed a kind of interiorised self-censorship, an interiorised authority at the core of it. The tendency is to self-adjust to the "normal"/official perception, to the status quo. People automatically take the frame of the superior publications, which take the frame of officials, which take the frame of the financial sustainers. The self-censorship is not so much about what information is presented, it is more about the perspective about reality, about the implicit paradigm from which the reading of what's happening emerges.(2)
This kind of analysis can be easily extended to art and to entire cultural component. The artist, like the journalist, is in a chain of economic-political power relations. He's the subject of a pressure from above - curators, programers, which are the subject of a pressure from politicians or banks/corporations (via financial support). From this point of view the artist is a link between officials and the subjectivities it addresses, an important piece in a chain of power influences.
The majority of the population is sufficiently "covered" by the mass media and entertainment, apparently the contemporary art play a small role in the big picture. Maybe from the quantitative point of view, but from the point of view of how power operates, the target of high culture (contemporary art, academic theory, etc.) is tremendously important because it assimilates and addresses the marginal people that are more at unrest, emancipated, unsatisfied, activists, critical, etc. Foucault noticed that the power always focused to assimilate, to integrate or to criminalize/annihilate this dangerous, more marginal, independent subjects.(3)
Art (and Academia) seems to be some of the best solutions for assimilating, absorbing, discharging and disarming in its key points the resistance, dissent, revolt and frustration accumulated in society. It works like a substitution, it swallows real struggles, the real potentiality and transforms them into consumable spectacular cultural products like art. It is an appropriation of struggles. This accumulation of struggles creates the cultural (and artistic) bubble, a luxurious prison where the dangerous people, thoughts, concepts and intentions are domesticated.
(Art is infinitely better than reality)
Ranciere is enthusiastic about the fact that aesthetics were set since the beginning to work on the egalitarian principles:
"The very idea of Art - of the aesthetic experience - as defining a specific sphere of experience was born in the late eighteenth century under the banner of equality: the equality of all subjects, the definition of a form of judgment freed from the hierarchies of knowledge and those of social life."(4)
I think we can spot here a fundamental problem - the fact that art was set since the beginning to answer to this important needs and aspirations in an alternative reality - to function as a substitute that enables an abstraction from the concrete ideologico-political constellation. Religion offered this kind of compensation-refuge further in time, in the next-other life, art seems more efficient and can give a compensation now, but not here - in alternative realities, escaping in spaces of creativity, representation.
Freud considers that "life as we find it is too hard for us; it entails too much pain, too many disappointments, impossible tasks. We cannot do without palliative remedies… There are perhaps three of these means: powerful diversions of interest, which lead us to care little about our misery; substitutive gratification, which lessen it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensitive to it. Something of this kind is indispensable."(5)
Art/aesthetic seems to be a good "remedy" that plays all this three palliative functions so needed to cope with the inequality, exploitation, domination and precarity of life. Art can be seen as a space in which you can play with "radical" changes in a safe and inoffensive environment - a provided, institutionalized place for critique and experiment in order to keep the status quo outside of it.
Ranciere and with him others artists and theorists, says that art is already political just because it exists and modifies the regime of sensible, producing emancipation, etc. Of course these theories are a big hype among artists because they justify and provide rationalizations for "my art is my activism" attitude. It is very convenient, you just stay in your art studio and work at the level of finesse and sensible, and you are in the same time revolutionary, subversive and so on. You are a radical artist without touching on the power relations. You keep the privileges and you do resistance at the same time.
THE MORBID SIDE OF CULTURE
Everybody is happy - the artist, the State, the Capital. The Power don't want the artists capacities, intelligence and knowledge to be used in real dissent activities or in real protests. So, since ever, the power is friendly with the artists. They always had a privileged place at the King/Capital court.
We can see the cultural component as the domain of biopolitics, where the power invest in the people's capacities for different reasons - to integrate and assimilate dissent, to softly control the critical discourse, the values and references in society or just to harvest the artists productivity after.
The cultural component can be included in what Chris Hedges calls the soft language of power -"the language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators"(6).
The brutal language of power, the war component, the morbid capitalism is the domain of necropolitics, where the power is a dis-investement in life, is more an administration of death, war and brutal exploitation. It is reserved to the periphery of capital in the violent expansion zone where things are turbulent and the power is classical, not subtle, not hidden behind benevolent appearances. The morbid component is for the second world a bit and for the third world a lot.
The morbid component for the periphery cannot exist without the consent of the center, without the cultural component.
And the cultural component, all the financial speculations, immaterial labor, etc. cannot exist without a base, without the classical power, violent exploitation, without the war component for the periphery. In a way all the immaterial labor and the cultural component are more a way to administrate and externalize the death politics in the periphery of the capital. The cognitarians are just the administrators of the very concrete and brutal production that happens in the periphery.
But the periphery is coming closer and closer to the first world. The cuts in fundings for arts, humanities probably means also that the cultural component is not so needed anymore - it is not necessary or it is not working anymore to keep up the appearances, the illusion. So there is a move of the morbid component towards the center. Probably it is better to hope that artists will always be rich...
THE FINAL CRISIS
The morbid and the cultural (spectacle) component put a huge pressure on the subject creating an universal capitalist subjectivity which constantly reinforces the capitalist reality. So it is a vicious circle - a constant unbreackable loop.
The capitalist expansion reached all the populations, all the resources and the limits of the earth. The economic-financial paradigm is omnipresent, addressing the totality of life - at the level of the organization of society through the power of the neoliberal dogma and at the level of subjectivity where probably the last fight, for the most intimate human "resources", capacities, sensibility, intimate desires, believes, is happening now. We can say that the ultimate battle is in the cultural domain which is almost entirely occupied by the economic logic.
Probably in this context if we want to produce a change, first of all we have to go out or against the institutionalized art bubble. White cube and black box provided a bit of oxygen in a stable society and a suffocating environment. They played a function then, they were important. But now is possible much more, the times are changing. We should help that art bubble to burst, the crisis to work. Maybe now, in the crisis there is an opportunity for us to go out from the assigned art bubbles and to use our time and skills to intervene on the biggest stages (mass media, politics).
Maybe is time for art to go where things happen. To interrupt the flow of spectacle, the institutional chain of passing the cultural agenda. Not to listen and even sabotage the administrative protocols in art - the artist has to become a cultural terrorist. "Terrorist" is a label that points towards any enemy, potential danger to the establishment. The terrorist and the little brothers, pirates and hackers are the only ones that are not assimilated and integrated in our society.(7)
And there is an another level were we also should go. If capitalism is modelating our cultural core, we should go at that level too - to radically work, experiment with subjectivity. Not just to play safe in the realm of representation with creativity but to experiment with essential human behaviours, values, perceptions, attitudes. If we really want something to change I think we have to go a bit beyond our comfort and alter the core of our identities. If we are Capitalism, the exploitation, the extinction of species, the climate changes, at least some parts of us have to transform radically or even die. In this sense, maybe we have to embrace a bit of cultural (artistic) apocalypse.
1. See Stefan Tiron, 10 years of beautifying misery in Bucharest http://caminultaucultural.blogspot.com/2011/05/premises-10-years-of-beautifying-misery.html
2. Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Pluto Press, London, 1999;
3. Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge, random house, US, 1981;
4. Jacques Ranciere, Art of the possible, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_7_45/ai_n24354911/pg_6/?tag=content;col1
5. Sigmund Freud, Civilization And Its Discontents, Buckinghamshire: Chrysoma Associated, 2000;
6. Chris Hedges, Recognizing the Language of Tyranny, http://jerichorendezvous.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/recognizing-the-language-of-tyranny/
7. See Dorato Action at Pavilion Unicredit as a cultural terrorism example: http://florinflueras.blogspot.com/2011/07/dorato-action.html