Kwon: … But what I am looking for are the kind of projects that don’t make you feel comfortable about your sense of who you are and what your relationship is to other cultures. Rather they should raise questions about how such determinations are made and why, and who is served by certain determinations.
Question: I think your willingness and ability to unpack this idea of community and to critique community-based projects is a breath of fresh air in this week in which a lot of artists have presented projects they have done with the marginalized group of the month. Can you point to any artists you think are working in an appropriately critical way?
Kwon: I think Critical Art Ensemble does, even though they abandoned that process in their own rhetoric. Group Material, before they stopped making work, in the later projects when they were engaged by public art organizations to do things, tried to do the kind of questioning I am speaking of. The project I am familiar with is their 1997 Three Rivers Arts Festival piece. They as the artists were provided with options for communities by the arts agency so that they could “collaborate” with them. But Group Material chose not to work with a local community group. Instead they attempted to raise questions about what it is about community-based work that is supporting this summer arts festival, how the terms are defined by different people. To bring together a multiplicity of voices in the focus of questions and doubts, rather than pictures of existing groups, required a complex negotiation process with the organizers, who were upset by this kind of intervention. That is why I say this kind of intervention is hard to do, because the bureaucracy is not looking for unpredictable and uncontrolled doubts. They want self-empowered pictures of marginalized people.
Audience: In other words, the bureaucracy can perpetuate this idea of communities as being empowered when they are really not.
Kwon: The timing of the energy around community-based work is coincident with dramatic cuts in funding for social programs. It may be a conspiratorial imagination that is informing my judgement at the moment, but I think there is a relationship between the desire for institutions, arts or otherwise, to see marginalized groups as empowered when they are in fact not.
'To begin our rethinking about these alternative ways of formulating the community requires a major reorganization of the concept of community in which it can account for itself not as a sociological or essential term but as an existential one. French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy has posted some signposts for such an endeavor. He says, “There is no communion. There is no common being. But there is a being in common.” This is how I translate the idea of an impossible community. The question should be the community of being, not the being of community. In Nancy's overall project, according to another theorist, community is “neither a community of subjects, nor a promise of immanence, nor a communion of individuals in some higher or greater totality. It is not most specifically a product of any work or project. It is not work or a product or projected labor or an oeuvre, but what is unworked, desoeuvre.”'
"Truth is, the harmless word ”conversation”, which sounds so splendidly democratic and amicable, has been reduced in the mouths of the powerful to the weasliest of weasel words: a space-filler meaning nothing when all other evasions have failed."
“The general mechanisation of social functions gradually reduces the relational space. Just a few years ago, the telephone wake-up call service employed human beings, but now we are woken up by a synthesised voice… The automatic cash machine has become the transit model for the most elementary of social functions, and professional behaviour patterns are modelled on the efficiency of the machines replacing them, these machines carrying out tasks which once represented so many opportunities for exchanges, pleasure and squabbling.”—Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics
"Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week’s paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."
typical chain letter consists of a message that attempts to induce the recipient to make a number of copies of the letter and then pass them on to as many recipients as possible. Common methods used in chain letters include emotionally manipulative stories, get-rich-quick pyramid schemes, and the exploitation of superstition to threaten the recipient with bad luck or even physical violence or death if he or she “breaks the chain” and refuses to adhere to the conditions set out in the letter.
Throughout the 1990s, the rise of neo-conceptual art coincided with an increasing engagement with theory as a generator of ideas. Did that interest wane, or did it take on new forms in the years that followed? A look back at the last two decades in philosophy
“The ideal of community privileges unity over difference, immediacy over mediation, sympathy over recognition of the limits of one’s understanding of others from their point of view. Community is an understandable dream, expressing a desire for selves that are transparent to one another, relationships of mutual identification, social closeness and comfort. The dream is understandable, but politically problematic, I argue, because those motivated by it will tend to suppress differences among themselves or implicitly to exclude from their political groups persons with whom they do not identify. The vision of small, face-to-face decentralized units that this ideal promotes, moreover, is an unrealistic vision for transformative politics in mass urban society.”—Iris Marion Young - “The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference”
“I’d taken a break from writing and started interviewing people selling things through the PennySaver classifieds… Who are those people who are going to go to the trouble to sell something for $10? It was just a desire to interact with strangers and get out of my world… I interviewed them, and I went with a photographer. It was an invented job, in a way: “Wouldn’t it be fun if I had a job that took me out of the house where I could meet people as opposed to just sitting here in front of my computer thinking about myself?” I love that moment when you realize there is no law that says I can’t just call these people. In fact, there is their phone number! I know I’m supposed to just ask them about what they’re selling, but maybe I can interview them about their whole life. I’m turning that project into a book.”—Newsmaker: Miranda July - ARTINFO.com
Who are we – and who do we think we are? How do we make the selves we present to the world – and who are we really, underneath the social masks we wear every day? These are some of the questions posed by Self Made, an extraordinary debut feature by acclaimed British artist Gillian Wearing. A hybrid undertaking, Self Made is at once documentary, artwork, social experiment and performance project – bringing together a diverse group from the British public, non-actors every one, and offering them the chance to discover something about themselves through performance.