Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A few amazing finds, and a very subjective text

Magnus von Plessen, Felicity

It is hard for me to imagine a live performance that would have (that I would find to have) the density of some visual art. Yes, I distinguish those quite clearly, mainly by the dilating of senses I experience when watching most performance, as if there was no way of just getting to the point, or points, or of just hitting me with whatever they have. "Just". There is justice in this just, a sense of the right measure, like an object where the proportions feel right. I simply cannot recall a single performance I have seen where the proportions just felt right. It seems time and a live body introduce elements that are somehow completely out of the scope of my spectator experience.
Compare the best you've seen on stage to this:

The above images, by the astonishing Tim Hawkinson, are more than powerful: they range from publicity-like to classical sculpture to highly conceptual (the last one is a self-portrait mapping of all the area the artist sees on his own body, the picture before is a Balloon Self-Portrait, a blown-up mold of the artist), and yet each of them seems complete.
Or see these, by Huma Bhabha:

How are we to compete with the perfection of something that is? Another language, you will say. Another state of presence. And yet, the choice of what to lay my eyes on remains. And diversity is no argument, when time after time what is live seems to be disappointing, less thrilling, less surprising, exciting, fresh and bold than what remains there not waiting for the sight. But then again, it is also less exciting than film, which seems only to live when seen!
Indeed, it is perfectly useless to speak of the spectator's responsibility in all this, when the spectator admits he is not up to it and instead choses something less desperate, even as it may be darker and, at least on the surface, less active.
(Both poor quality reproductions are by Magnus von Plessen)
And yet, after having written all this, I still feel that live art somehow retains an incredible potential. Not because it is live, at least in the sense of having live people in front of you, but rather, in the sense of it being an event, and so, something that remains unexpected, but also unfinished, incomplete, and fragile in its egomaniacal form ("look at me!"). I'm still not sure where this is heading, it remains confused, but it might have something to do with the amazing phenomenon of enjoying something while it is bad, enjoying it because you appreciate it as an event, enjoying the fact that you are in the privileged position of

PS: Here is a picture dedicated to the effort of some colleagues from a theater project that has been on these days:
(The picture is by Amy Stein. I believe the title is Domesticated.)


Amet said...

Sorry but I cannot but reply in this way to your comment (which of course implies the kernel of my activity i.e. Teatro Praga).
After publicly disavowing your artistic activity (if I can call it artistic) I cannot but feel astonished by all the thinking mistakes that stand-out from your discourse (astonished because, after all, you always love to affirm that you studied philosophy).
So here is a little "philosophical" material that maybe they didn't teach you.

What has caracterized humanity is the performatical gestures in the institutionalization of the symbolic reality. What allowed the transformation into a fetichistic object was the beginning of writing, and therefore the loss of gods, and to top it all the mimetic regime of Aristoteles i.e. Platon's fall.

The problem with you loving objects (you and the whole society by the way, completely drunken and asleep by the hegemonic capitilistic/fetichistic state) is that they work in ways that become substitutes for the lack of knowledge and ethics. I mean, for the lack of conciousness. An object, is an exteriorization of an effort. That is the Mimesis of Aristoteles, that is danger of the Reproductability of Benjamin. It strengthens a totalitarian society based on objectual achievements.

Theatre has to stop this attitude which increases impoverishment of the not-all, or of the demos, to bring platon again. Theatre has to stop being a metaphor, a totality towards naivete, an object to contemplate. Theatre should be the founding gesture for a political and esthetical attitude that should never be frozen, and claimed for newness, one time after the other.

Theatre IS ABOUT DIRECT COMMUNICATION, ABOUT DIRECT SHARING OF IDEAS, ABOUT DIRECT EMERGENCE OF COMMUNITY. The object cause of desire shall not be pursued. It will only bring egocentrism and mediocrity to the world.

You don't know, but you are pursuing exactly what an anti-artistic hegemonic society wants. The upward of an object and the loss of a "doubting" attitude towards the world.
In this way there is a perpetuation of the "artists" as Mr. Gates of the Arts.
By the way, do you know the work of the Polish group Azorro.
They are great.
It's all about performativiy.
About doubting of the symbolic reality.
Maybe you should check it out.
And don't let them eat you and transform you into a completely automatic human being.

vvoi said...

Dear amet,
I am delighted to find your interest in my blog.
No need to be sorry, everyone is free to leave comments, which I am always happy to read. And thank you for such an original one.
You mentioned several very interesting points, some of which I indeed do ignore, some consciously, others probably not. Let me try and address them one by one.
"After publicly disavowing your artistic activity (if I can call it artistic)..."
I was not aware that you had seen any of my (quite scarce) performances, nor have I read or heard any opinion of yours about it. I know you despised my comment about Praga written some time ago - and with good reason, as it hardly introduced anything but the disappointment with Praga's shows. And didn't mention a crucial element: that whenever I can, I always try to see your shows.
However, let us move to the "thinking mistakes".
- "What has caracterized humanity..."
I indeed did not know what "has characterized humanity". Somehow, your statement does not convince me per se. I would like to know - how do you know it? How are you able to sum up the entirety of the human experience until today in one sentence? How can you be so sure?

"The problem with you loving objects (you and the whole society by the way, completely drunken and asleep by the hegemonic capitilistic/fetichistic state) is that they work in ways that become substitutes for the lack of knowledge and ethics."
I am glad you at least include me in society, rotten as it may be. I suppose you exclude yourself from it, along with the few chosen ones, say, a Hegel and maybe a part of Nietzsche, and of course our friend Wagner, who brought light to humanity by introducing the lost lambs to the (to HIS) whole-work-of-art. It’s a pity that saviors of humanity so often despise it.

Indeed, I admit to fetishism, I can live with that. I admit to admiring objects, to finding things in them they might not have. If you want to mingle-mangle in philosophical references, to Plato I prefer Plotinus, and by far. You see, Plotinus (drunken probably by Aristotle, but also quite certainly by Christian and mystic influences) contrary to Plato believes in art and in the possibility of acquiring (some) knowledge through art. At the same time, he introduces the idea that a beautiful work of art and a beautiful landscape have more similarities than differences. Which brings us to our next point.

"An object, is an exteriorization of an effort."
Says who? Aristotle? And you believe him? I think you might underestimate the object. Unless you consider that a stone is the exteriorization of God's effort. It can be seen the other way around: from a subjective perspective, an object has, maybe, a potential. An action is, maybe, the execution of a potential. And that would mean that I am perverted to the point of preferring the potential to the realization. OK.

"Theatre has to stop this attitude which increases impoverishment of the not-all, or of the demos, to bring platon again."
But why??? Take the worst case scenario, where your crushing judgment of me and what I do, along with “the rest of society”, is right. What is the damage, besides our being poor little ignorant souls that have fun with all these terribly naive toys? What more do you have to offer, in the real world? I would love to see it, discover it.

"Theatre has to stop being a metaphor, a totality towards naivete, an object to contemplate."
OK, I can accept this attitude. I am ready to discover where it might lead. Now - make it happen.

"Theatre should be the founding gesture for a political and esthetical attitude that should never be frozen, and claimed for newness, one time after the other."
Oh, yes, I couldn't agree more. The problem is - this beautiful idea does not transpire in any show I have seen. Not yours, not any, at least in quite some time. Why? Possibly - at least in the case of your shows I have seen (and judging from what I’ve heard, I missed several ones that do not obey this tendency) - because they are too often repetitive (you know, when the surprises stop surprizing?), tiring, or plain silly, and whenever they find something, their readiness to bring the "newness" makes them kill it, zapping it right through and making the whole experience a disappointment.

You see - this is the point. I don't feel any community emerging directly, and even less so out of your shows. Possibly, I am not included, the ideas are not directly shared with me, or plain and simple- I am too dumb to understand it. That's fine, I accept it. But since you consider yourself to be better - why don't you try and win me over? Why don't you talk to me, instead of insulting me, WHY DON’T YOU GO DOWN TO THE CAVE AND WALK BACK WITH ME? Isn’t this the ultimate road for the platonist? Instead of chosing the ridiculous way of angry words, of pitying yourself for living in a world of idiots, while at the same time stating their lives are worth less (!)(as you write somewhere else). From what I recall, Plato even spent time being councellor to tyrants - and you can’t handle a group of people who simply have another set of opinions and aesthetic and ethical values than your own? What does that tell me about your ethics? About you?

"You don't know, but you are pursuing exactly what an anti-artistic hegemonic society wants. "
Hey, since it's that bad, I wish at least this translated into a material (sic!) well-being (et nunc!), or any sort of basis of subsistence.

"The upward of an object and the loss of a "doubting" attitude towards the world."
Oh, grow up dear, or doubt in a way that actually brings you (and us) something. Your shows are entirely object-dependent and object-driven, your ironic stance in the Praga shows is hilarious, and desperate, exactly because it is so integrated in this horrible, horrible, materialistic culture. (And there are times when I genuinely love it, think it’s brilliant, outstanding work. Only to be severely disappointed by yet another trick exit, or attack of logorrhea.)
Fighting from the inside? Maybe. And how is it, that when someone considers this isn’t enough (or is displeased with it for some other reason), you accuse him of “seeing the show in the wrong way” (sic!), but don’t ever admit that this very phenomenon is happening to you when judging others?
You speak so much of dialectics. The “true”, Greek dialectics. Shouldn’t dialectics be a constant dialogue, instead of a monologue?

I would be delighted to discuss all this with you some more next time we meet, be it at McDonald’s, as the last time, or anywhere else.

Amet said...

Thank for answering my post, and although I am not trying to prophetise you (since probably there is no cure) I will still try to punch some of your (wrong) points. I will divide the comments in the same amounts of points that you had. Sometimes i can sound furious, but that is the barrier of language. It is just my head thinking around. Believe it, in another situation I wouldn't even bother answering.


1st of all I don’t know how you control everybody that sees your performances?
And I ask this, in italian to have style, Sono vvoi panoptico?

2 Since you want complete sentences, and to avoid those phrase deconstructionist demagogic attitudes, here it goes: “If we are to distinguish the humans from other animals by defining those of having higher consciouness (maybe through the second death) and by starting to invest some sense on their closed society through the institutionalization of symbolic reality through performatical gestures, than bla bla bla”. Yes, we can universalize (me, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible through anonymous, Steiner, Jung, Lacan, Espinosa, Freud, Hegel, Butler, Badiou, Derrida, Deleuze, etc etc etc well, all philosophy, all ethics, come on, don’t react in that low way! It only turns against your discourse. The next question you are going to put me is: How do you know what you are? How are you sure you exist?); as I was saying, humans can universalize whenever they don’t have two particularisms (one hidden, and one claimed). Whenever a partage du sensible is on the way, a universalization of the not-all (demos, folk, underclass, call it what you want) is on the way and therefore necessary. If you don’t understand this, if you have so much doubts, then again your conciousness of ethics, of being human, is very scarce.
The theories are not mine, you should know better.

3 When I say that you belong to the “loving objects society”, and to avoid victimizations of your part, I am only stating what you have said in other ways, i repeat, what YOU HAVE SAID. When you say you love the visual arts rather than the performatical for they lack some objectivity (or objectuality, if the opressor allows me to say it), than I can only make a parallel with a society that, since the industrial revolution to say the least, has been focused on materialization. My phrase had no hidden psychanalyst critic particularism in it. It is a fact, that you are either conscient of it, or ... it’s a pity.
It is not a matter of being better, it is a matter of a negative dialectic.

4 So Plato doesn´t believe in art? That is what you are saying?
Do you think Plato is focused in knowledge through what?
Do you think that for Plato there is a Truth?
Do you think that for Plato there is Art without ethics?
Do you know who first used the Word Art?
Are you actually implying that Plotinus was more important than Aristotle in the representative regime?
We are in different platforms of thinking. I am in an ethical regime, you are in a representative regime. You live on the mimesis, on the fake, on the exteriorization, on the pathos, on the hierarchy. Actually, you share the same ideas that have reigned the world for over 2,000 years. I think it is enough of that. To much people have been killed to mantain regimes that have left few paintings. That was a high price that we paid.
Really, we are talking abou two different histories of humankind.

5 A stone has a potential? How can you be naive. Naivete is like the seven rocks, they hit and leave bruises.
But anyway, to avoid more and more mistakes. A rock (and here we go back sometime ago, guess where, to Plato again): would you listen to a rock if it told you the truth? (Fedro) No because as a being, it has no a priori. It only has a a priori in the world it becomes, and therefore, subject to the investment that is made in it. Alone it is nothing, or rather, like naivete, alone it is more harmfull than powerful.
And when I was talking about objects (from the Latin OBJECTUS), I was evidently talking about (well to anyone interested in having a conversation) about HUMAN MADE THINGS IN ORDER TO DISTANCIATE HIM FROM NATURE. Guess what, yes , exteriorizations of an effort, the thing that amused you so much.

6 You say “Know make it happen”? Are you kidding. Pragmatism, now that is a word that the United States of América uses as a flag. Well even Pierce or Rorty would see today all the Imperalist mistakes already put in question by Arendt.
The passage a l’acte is never perfect (only in the fetichistic society with the roundness and licking idea i.e. licked art, roundness in gestures), but that is exactly the aim of the homo faber aestheticus. He who seeks answer is a worshiper, a moralist. And those, well, we already have seen what have made of humanity.
Find no answers, for your God’s sake!

7 About the comments to my show, i can only say that the things are what you make of them.
And that each person has the world that they deserve.
And that if you listen to the opinion of others without personal judgment (like Hitler talking to Mussolini or Eva) than you belong to their group.
And if the group is of some sort of people who can not reach an certain dignifying position of humanity, than they should reflect on what they are doing here.
And if you are aiming at something through a ladder than it is even worse, because it is impotency at its sublime point of verge.
And if you don’t like repetition, to start, read repetition and diference by Deleuze and than go back to all the philosophers that i have mentioned before.
And if you find it silly, you find it in yourself, because things are what we want them to be.
And about the newness that you so much doubt about, it is about revolution (but not a revolution like you see on tv; rather a revolution that you read in debord, if you invest in reading it with some senses and with an interdisciplinary attitude, that is, crossing it with plato and etc the names before, but for that, YOU HAVE REALLY TO READ THEM AND NOT JUST NAMEDROP.)

8 About me being angry and etc (that is the power of dialectis, my dear vvoi), I love to talk with people with other ideas and ethics. Actually, I talk with loads of them. Thousands of them. Do you think I am an eremit?
I don’t go out at night?
I don’t eat?
Do you secretly worship me as a untouchable god?
But to consider them, to talk to them, they have really to have Ideas and Ethics, which I don’t find in everybody. A person to be heard has to have respect of other, but has to make an investment in being heard.
By the way? Do you think that in this overpopulated society due to capitalistic producing time, everybody deserves to live?
Do you think one can be good? Do you think people are good by nature? Do you think that pragmatism is good and utopia as the aim the evil?
Do you think everybody has the same consciouness?
By all means, I believe in God (even if unconsciously), but you are a Christian! Another pope to come?

9 Oh, you want a material well being, a basis of subsistence? Here starts our problem. I despise that attitude.

10 “Grow up dear”, I can only laugh. You, in the search of the naivete, are telling me to grow up. I, who tries to worship all good that humanhand has created, are telling me to grow up. Go read, and I don’t mean just the cover.
“My shows are object-driven and object-dependent”? HAHAHAHAHAHAHa.
Go read, really go read, and think, reflect, go to prison with me and patty for stealing half of our set design, be a cynic like us in our last “spectacular” show. AHAHAHAH.
“Logorrhea?” You want pathos, you want to feel, go to acupunture. Humans are thought (i didn’t make it up, as you know), neither Descartes.
How do I know I don’t make the same mistakes in judgement? By the surrounding. Join the good, and if they admire you, than probably you are on the right path. Deal with the mean, and you will be worst than them. A complex system, the system the greeks opened up for us, is exaclty this, A OPEN COMPLEX SYSTEM. But i am not going to teach you anthropology, because next thing you are going to say, is that you have read a lot about it, even studied it, and then we cannot have a serious talk again.
You want positive dialectics, and I want negative Hegelian dialetics. They are evil, mean, and painful, but they don’t stop in answers.
He who seeks answers, will only find contempt.

Yes we can discuss later, but you have to read much more, and prove that you deserve an enlightened conversation. Not just memorizing dates and concepts. Really crossing references and thinking, and recognizing the mistakes. People who want to pass by society with evil tongues and trying to act as if they think and have a clean and smooth ethical attitude will soon understand that the door that was flashing EXITO (sucess in português) was just the EXIT door.

BRAT P said...

I read your little discussion with amusement...
But Vvoi, next time don’t waist your time replying to comments made by idiots.

underskin said...

que discussão mediocre. quanta palavra desperdiçada, puro alimento da arrogância.
teatro X artes plásticas?
pensamento medieval este...
pequeno, pequeno.
e não "percam tempo" lendo, procurem olhar, e ver.


vvoi said...

translation of underskin: "what a mediocre discussion. so many wasted words, just feeding arrogance.
theater vs. visual arts?
what a medieval thinking...
small, small.
and don't «waste time» reading, try to look, and see.


thank you for all the comments.
contrary to underskin, i didn't find the discussion a waste of time. and contrary to brat, i don't think you, amet, are an idiot.
quite to the contrary, i think you are someone very intelligent and with a great knowledge. i learn whenever i read what you write, and it makes me want to go further and investigate further. sure, i don't agree with you on many points, and i certainly find your language uselessly personally insulting and threatening. however, i am coming to grips with the fact that this is just the way you are. and you have raised several interesting issues, be it the (im?)possibility of utopic thinking in art, the question of dealing with all the 'Mr.Gateses' of arts, or the idea of remaining on the side of questions in one's work, even if it is a directed show, even if it is a «closed piece». all the ideas you bring forward make me think of lots of other questions, and i appreciate that by challenging me you make me try harder, think more, and - maybe - do better.
for my part, i think i've already said enough here.
amet, all the best to you in your future non-answers.
and feel free to leave comments any time, you are more than welcome.

underskin said...

et voila le point de depart!
clap clap clap

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what this art symbol is all about? And ad?


tu dealer said...

great blog!

DSK said...

Here idiosyncrasies and tics of contemporary art critics in a gallery of cartoon characters.

Contemporary art and movies (in Venice)


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