"I’m not interested in colonizing brains," he replied. "I see the truck as a potentially healing gesture, not that it has to be. I don’t have delusions that it will perform the hard work of healing traumas. I do believe there can be an aesthetic of good intentions, but I’m leery of saying what those are. No, I’m not going to tell anyone it’s art."
And handled poorly, a Rakowitz work could easily come off as jokey, disingenuous or worse — obvious. The food truck, for instance, is spun off an “Enemy Kitchen” project he began in New York soon after9/11. At first, he invited children at a Manhattan after-school program to cook with him; he encouraged discussion on the war, terrorism, etc. He hoped for a microcosm of opinions about the war: crackpot, patriotic, dissenting. He got that. But the project received so much media attention that he was invited to stage an “Enemy Kitchen” in other cities, and though he often agreed, the participants were too like-minded in their politics, too agreeable, too conscious of “Enemy Kitchen” as an art project. “So there was no friction. And I am not making art for the art world.”
Kristof’s kind of awareness-raising is a vacuous (and vapid) tautology that motivates no social change but rather exists to serve itself, an endlessly churning machine to project the ultimate liberal humanitarian fantasy: a clean, orderly, decent world without having to change anything. His glosses become social facts that are difficult to displace.
Desire has changed, and it can change again. This will likely occur by mining the gap between the official discourse and its underbelly, and using that contradiction—and the trauma that speaking it causes—to shatter the agreed-upon common sense. This would entail not simply screaming the truth from the rafters—and as a result perhaps creating reactionary rejection (a more aggressive and obdurate shutting of the eyes)—but rather using that act of speech to rejigger values and ways of seeing, such that closing one’s eyes is still possible but no longer desired. This article is hence not meant as an exposé of some Truth about Kristof, but rather an attempt to make it slightly neat or even cool to no longer objectify the poor or ignore our arbitrarily privileged position within a brutal global political economy.
Occupy Wall Street may (perhaps inadvertently) provide us with a particularly sophisticated example of how to “speak” the open secret: By not speaking—by resisting attempts that would coerce it into making legible claims—OWS performs demands on others to think and act politically. To wit, when mainstream Kristof-types attempt to capture OWS by reducing it to a set of policy prescriptions, OWS remains silent. When cynics insist that “we don’t know what you want,” OWS, as DougRushkoff suggests, says, “I don’t believe you.” In refusing to provide a solution that nests comfortably inside the existing system of power relations, OWS both effectively denies the cynic’s acceptance of the open secret (where we must pretend that the system is containable through regulation; that it won’t produce as a matter of course stratification, exploitation, and crisis; that capitalism can be made to work for the middle class), as it also makes a fairly radical demand on everyone to begin thinking what the system might look like instead.
“I believe in the continued value of disruption, with all its philosophical anti-humanism, as a form of resistance to instrumental rationality and as a source of transformation. Without artistic gestures that shuttle between sense and nonsense, that recalibrate our perception, that allow multiple interpretations, that factor the problem of documentation/presentation into each project, and that have a life beyond an immediate social goal, we are left with pleasantly innocuous art. Not non-art, just bland art – and art that easily compensates for inadequate government policies.”—Claire Bishop, 2006
Asked if Voina had exceeded the boundaries of performance art with its politically-motivated actions, Plutser-Sarno responded, “If an artist follows rules, canons, norms, he is dead. An artist should be walking on the razor’s edge between art and non-art, between death and life.” That territory is certainly where Voina is headed, given their multiple daring escapes from arrest and imprisonment (it is worth noting that Plutser-Sarno is currently in hiding abroad).
According to Voina, the difference between performance art and political activism is art’s public nature and the importance of laying claim to your work. “If an activist secretly burns a cop truck at night, it won’t be art. It will be the revenge of an activist,” Plutser-Sarno wrote. “But to burn it openly and proclaim to the entire country: ‘I am an artist. I burned down your prison, symbol of totalitarianism. This autodafe is our art action,’ then it becomes a piece of art. We made people discuss it as an artistic action.”
Commissioned as part of an IASKA residency program pairing artists with remote Western Australian communities, Leber and Chesworth’s latest work, The Way You Move Me, traces the subtleties, complexities and rhythms implicit in the mass-movement of cattle and sheep across the vast farming properties skirting the area.
The 2012 New Museum Triennial will feature thirty-four artists, artist groups, and temporary collectives—totaling over fifty participants—born between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, many of whom have never before exhibited in the US. The exhibition title, “The Ungovernables,” takes its inspiration from the concept of “ungovernability” and its transformation from a pejorative term used to describe unruly “natives” to a strategy of civil disobedience and self-determination. “The Ungovernables” is meant to suggest both anarchic and organized resistance and a dark humor about the limitations and potentials of this generation. “The Ungovernables” is an exhibition about the urgencies of a generation who came of age after the independence and revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Through both materials and form, works included in “The Ungovernables” explore impermanence and an engagement with the present and future. Many of the works are provisional, site-specific, and performative reflecting an attitude of possibility and resourcefulness.
‘Informality’ focuses specifically on the concept of the informal economy. The informal economy is that part of commercial and the service sector that operates outside of the circuit of formal financial transactions – and thus is hidden from the sight of the Revenue Service and other governmental institutions that control business and economic affairs, and the banks themselves. In the West the informal economy makes up a about 11% of the total economy. On other continents, such as Africa and Latin America, but also in former East Bloc countries, the informal economy often makes up the largest part of the total economy. ‘Informality’ examines the phenomenon from the perspective of art, involving certain informal aspects of the art world itself in doing so, including the precarious position of the artist in society.
While “resistance” and “revolt” are commonly employed as positive terms, “recalcitrance” has overwhelmingly negative connotations. The current definition of the word “recalcitrance” dates back to the 17th century (Fr. récalcitrant, lit. “kicking back,” 17c.–18c.). It describes a stubborn, obstinate, at times even passive-aggressive or lazy attitude. Nevertheless, it seems to be an appropriate description of the nature of certain current social and political confrontations. This programme explores the role of obstinate refusal in contemporary art and society, including the academic setting. It asks whether, under certain circumstances, recalcitrance could be a meaningful attitude and whether the performance of recalcitrance can be a useful artistic and social tool.
His material is drawn straight from the life around him, from people’s experiences, from conversation, from history almost as it happens. He is an enabler, intermediary and maker of connections, a producer, collaborator and activist. He has expanded the traditional idea of how an artist may work.
On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?
A separate Nielsen study found that in April 2010 Australians spent over seven hours per day on social networking sites - the most in the world - while 63 per cent had a Facebook profile. Sociologists hail the changes brought on by the internet as a step in the right direction for society. They see it as an easy way for people to reach out to others who they would never meet in their ‘real world’ lives and ultimately enrich the human experience.