I am not a very balanced person. I am fragile and sad – almost as described in Triste Tropiques by Claude Lévi-Strauss. I feel both those adjectives, I grew up with them. I was aware of my fragility even when I was very young – a baby, learning to walk, living somewhere in Africa and already feeling that the number of white persons was very small compared to the number of black persons and also noticing that most of the black persons that I met were gardeners or maids. I felt – I am sure I am not lying – even at that very young age, not a sense of injustice, but a sort of guilt.
Guilt for what? My parents were nice people, they treated everyone well. My father was avidly learning languages, he spoke many African languages and also Pidgin English very well and he used to speak it...
How I Learned to Clench My Fists
How I Try to Sell Myself to the Americans
Gertrud Koch, Michael Lüthy, Bernhard Schieder, Allan Sekula
A Walk With Allan Sekula Through His Exhibition
Qu’entendre par l’invocation d’une « esthétique de la connaissance » ? Manifestement il ne s’agit pas de dire que les formes de la connaissance devraient s’adjoindre une dimension esthétique. L’expression présuppose qu’une telle dimension n’a pas à être ajoutée, comme un ornement supplémentaire, qu’elle est là de toute façon comme une donnée immanente de la connaissance. Reste à voir ce que cela implique. La thèse que je voudrais présenter est simple : parler d’une dimension esthétique de la connaissance, c’est parler d’une dimension d’ignorance qui divise l’idée même et la pratique de la connaissance.
Cette proposition implique évidemment une thèse préalable quant à ce qu’ « esthétique » veut dire. La thèse est la suivante : l’esthétique n’est pas la théorie du beau ou de l’art, elle n’est pas non plus la théorie de la sensibilité. Esthétique est un concept historiquement déterminé qui désigne un régime spécifique de visibilité et d’intelligibilité de l’art, qui s’inscrit dans une reconfiguration...
Democratic fetishism involves not believing that one lives in a democracy while acting as if one does believe it.
Fredric Jameson has diagnosed the contemporary situation as one of subjective perplexity and disorientation. After the failures of all the Marxist attempts to install a framework which could provide for a collective subjective orientation, and after the perpetual intensification of late capitalism’s dynamics, the contemporary epoch is marked by the feeling that “the truth of … experience no longer coincides with the place in which it takes place.” This is to say, that individuals become disoriented because they lack an effective cognitive map of the complete situation they are in. This lack of orientation originates in the absence of a standpoint that would provide not only an abstract, but also a concretizable, perspective on the totality of the situation in which an individual finds himself. Badiou has further complicated the problem of disorientation, by linking it to the modalities of subjectivization offered by contemporary societies. In his analysis he refers to...
What does one need to hunt an animal that might not exist? Books? There are many things in books that don’t exist…
Quelques calypsoniens chantent dans un patois qui contient des mots et des expressions en anglais, espagnol, français et hindou, mais la majorité chante en anglais avec un accent britannique bizarrement déformé ; dans leur bouche, « parrot » devient « pair-ott », « temperament » devient « tem-pair-a-mint » et « hat » devient « hot ».
Les calypsos viennent de Trinidad, une île britannique des Caraïbes proche de la côte du Venezuela qui fournit aussi au monde de l’asphalte ainsi que l’amer Angustura. Ils sont composés par des hommes hautains, amoraux qui boivent sec et qui se donnent le nom de calypsoniens. En grande majorité ce sont des Noirs. Une guitare sous le bras, ils passent leur temps dans les rhumeries et les cafés chinois de Marine Square et Frederick Street à Port-of-Spain, la ville principale de Trinidad, en quête de rumeurs autour desquelles ils pourraient construire un calypso. Nombre d’entre eux se vantent avec raison du fait que des femmes se battent pour avoir le droit de subvenir à leurs besoins. La plupart sont des vétérans des prisons de l’île. Pour se distinguer des hommes ordinaires, ils n’utilisent pas leurs noms légaux mais vivent et chantent avec des titres adoptés tels que Growler, Lord Executor,...
How does the emergence of masses, multitudes, mobs, movements, communities, collectives, bands, or swarms relate to the law? When does flight turn into colonization? What is the situation before the law? What is the camp? How does the people relate to the camp?
To revitalize democracy in our post-political societies, what is urgently needed is to foster the multiplication of agonistic public spaces where everything that the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate can be brought to light and challenged.
In recent years we have witnessed an incredible acceleration in the process of commodification in the field of culture. With the development of the culture industries, the worst nightmares of Horkheimer and Adorno seem to have been realized. Indeed, some theorists claim that, through our dependence on the entertainments corporations, we have become totally subjugated to the control of capital and that we cannot even imagine modes of resistances. Aesthetics, they say, has been so completely harnessed towards the development of a hedonistic culture that there is no space left for a subversive experience – not even in art.
Were this to be true, we would have to conclude that there is no alternative to the present post-political world. The current hegemonic form of neoliberal globalization would constitute our only horizon and we would have to abandon the hope of fostering the agonistic democracy that I have been advocating in my work....
Art gains (meta-)political meaning not least by revealing the positing acts, along with their rhetorics, at the foundations of our political worldviews. In doing so, it points toward the potentially endless struggle over the conditions under which a communication free of domination would be possible.
The debate on realism has always closely tied the notion of artistic progressiveness to the question of how artistic production relates to its social and cultural outside. To isolate considerations of formal creation from art’s reference to that outside is to bid farewell to the project of realism. For unlike such formalism, realism is by definition impure. It is always already open to an ethical, political, and epistemic demand: realism – as a stance, a project, a production – requires fidelity; fidelity, that is, to a reality that needs to be done justice in ethical, political, and epistemic terms. Realism attests to reality; it does not engender it. This implies that those who commit themselves to the realist project, and hence to fidelity to reality, must be the contemporaries of this reality. On the other hand, the realist project amounts to more than a positivist or automatic registration of something already given....
However, the discussions about Schlingensief’s film were sparked by the same, or similar, questions as in the case of Disabled Theater: have the performers been exposed? Have they been declared incompetent, or ridiculed?
When non-disabled artists such as Jérôme Bel or Christoph Schlingensief in their productions work with actors who, in hegemonic discourse, are referred to as disabled, they almost invariably face criticism over the exploitation and voyeuristic exhibition of these people. Bel’s Disabled Theater anticipated such reservations and took a good deal of wind out of its critics’ sails by having the performers themselves raise these issues on stage and report on their families’ reactions to the piece. Nevertheless, the question whether Jérôme Bel was showing up his actors was an inevitable topic in newspapers and on critics’ panels—even though, in view of the overall press reviews and the relatively small number of hatchet jobs, it seemed as if some critics only used these objections as alibis for legitimizing their respective point of view, their voyeuristic curiosity, or the work of the successful artist Jérôme Bel. The majority of reactions acquitted Bel...