RE: [-empyre-] on meaningful articulations : strategies

Hey everybody,

I'm sorry for being so negligent in posts, but I hope to rectify that. I have been having trouble keeping up with all the posts, but am deciding to just throw something out there and hope that I am not repeating too much. 

I just gave a talk at a space Messhall in Chicago and we were treading over this territory as well. I am sure it's on our minds. I came away with these thoughts that I think can address two different strands of thought:

1. Embodied practice (that is the participating in a social culture that exists outside commercial paradigms of political aesthetics practice) is a good thing. The emergence of spaces that attempt to produce new models of social exploration and the connecting of these spaces (and journals or magazines) is a key component in producing vital counter culture. It's amazing to me how much more useful these spaces are than theory. However, I don't want to go too far down the road of anti-intellectualism. It's just that we need places to participate in more than we need books right now.

2. Critique is a useful function, but if not contextuaized inside a community who want to grow, it is just mean spirited. The quest for calling out who is co-opting and who is commodifying and who is selling out, can often be a screen for one's own career or social frustration. I have seen more than a few times the use of the term co-opt applied to projects only because they attempt to retain a reasonable socially gratifying level of recognition. The witch hunt for self serving art projects can lead to more ill will than productive politics. So, I'm always curious about the approach to politics of calling out the corrupt among us. I realize I work in an institution where I feel somewhat complicit in a form of institutionalization. I'm ok with that. I think MASS MoCA can be helpful to some projects and not to others. There is some sense of contradiction that is tricky to navigate. I am also aware that producing counter-structures is often times more fruitful than the figuring out who is, and isn't truly down with the cause. 

I often think we internalize the values of the marketplace by consistently retaining the avant-guare as new product placement. That under the veil of market critique, we are harboring our personal product, that is our subjectivity. This is problematic. Often the language of capitalist critique is used as a cover for our own ego. That happens... I swear. 

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of christina ulke
Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2005 4:52 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] on meaningful articulations : strategies

Robby - i tend to disagree with you, I think art does have the power to change people's perception of things  and give us a very complex experience of reality. Art can indeed be effective in the traditional art world.

But how do you measure effectivity?

 I think one problem that stands in the way of having a serious discourse in the gallery/museum system is the 'branding' of the individual artist/artist group/ project and - along with it- the need for "product"[artist=product] consistency.

Take for example 'Fallen Fruit'; a project that was published in our 3rd issue as one of the art projects

" FALLEN FRUIT began as an artist's project for The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest in Los Angeles; it was a mapping of all the 'public fruit' in our neighborhood in Los Angeles. We believe that fruit planted on private property which overhangs public space should be public property and created 
this project to encourage people both to harvest and plant public fruit. The 
project is a response to accelerating urbanization and the loss of people's capacity to produce their own foods, as well as issues around grassroots community activism, social welfare and social responsibility "

 I wonder -  what started out as a "confined" art project is now an art collective/cultural machine driving its own advertisement campaign with spin-off projects in NY, shwag, events etc.

I would argue that Fallen Fruit is an example of a project that is in the process of commodifing/branding itself; the question is -is  this sort of production around the artwork an example of an"embodied" practice? Or is it an example of an  effective marketing strategy in order to get the 
project into the Whitney  Biennale? Or is this commodification even 
necessary to be effective?

Robby wrote:
>I am very  skeptical that Art, and artists when articulated as 
>individual  practitioners, abstracted from a political, social, or 
>cultural base, can  have an actual effect here
>While Fish Story is a solid and even innovative practice of documentary
>photography- it, like Sekula's practice- becomes a stand in for the 
>real in the capitalist art marketplace, as he is bandied about as the 
>last standing Marxist in contemporary art

Ryan wrote

> along the lines of Kenneth's questions, i'm also interested in the 
> engagement with criticality as an "embodied" practice (to use Brian's 
> phrase).

Ryan wrote
> this is what i've seen as part of the journal's project (not to say 
> that for everyone else, of course). at some point, we have to evaluate 
> the state of embodiment. is the materialization of a given discourse 
> just producing books and conferences?

 i've been thinking about de Certeau's use of "tactics" v
> "strategy" in relation to the militaristic use of those concepts... 
> (thanks to a recent discussion with the center for tactical magic) a 
> lot of critically engaged practice has put much faith in the notion of 
> tactics as a reactionary form of practice, whether of the direct 
> action kind, or the unconscious everyday method of coping. but i'm 
> wondering if it's not important now to develop notions of strategy... 
> what would a "strategical media" look like? this is what i've seen as 
> part of the journal's project (not to say that for everyone else, of 
> course). at some point, we have to evaluate the state of embodiment. 
> is the materialization of a given discourse just producing books and 
> conferences? or is it interfacing with life in other ways? i certainly 
> am not saying i know how to evaluate this (if it's even possible) but 
> it seems the questions would have to be raised. as to the question 
> about where commodification (fetishism) is happening... i think there 
> are multiple ways that one could site that. certainly the publishing 
> system, and what's been called the "academic-military-entertainment 
> complex" on other lists recently... best,
> ryan

empyre forum

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