[-empyre-] radical chic

The scene at documenta 12 Halle:  one large room with 100 magazines,
one copy each,  glued to the tables.  -empyre- is, a pdf of the 'Is
Modernity our Antiquity" discussion. Visitors must stand and flip
through a single copy.  No place to sit and read.  A few screens.  A
surprising number of people drift through and stop to read, moving
slowly from  one magazine display to the next.  Even the fairly
impossible 'learning' conditions, the lack of a lounge or a dedicated
kindergarten-style reading space ("drop everything and read!" )
-----despite plenty of square meters to do it in-- does not deter many
visitors from trying to browse through the mags.

The organization of the interior space at the Halle communicates a
non verbal message: the magazine project is classically  segregated
from 'art' --sort of a side show at the zoo (there is in fact a full
scale stuffed giraffe in the exhibition space a couple of floors down
the hill from here).

Claudia Reiche's remarks in January are prophetic, as she dryly observes,

"The third leitmotif for documenta 12 by ist artistic director Roger
M. Buergel is posited in the form of a question. („After all, we
create an exhibition in order to find something out." Buergel in his
artistic statement).

"He will not by chance have chosen „What is to be done?" as a
quotation of V. I. Lenin's famous book from 1902 with the subtitle
„Burning questions to our movement." Let's read Buergel's statement as
a comment on Lenin's text, if not a formula of how to trump Lenin's
theoretical and practical notion of a proletarian revolution, as
today's world order seems to have  proven Lenin wrong.

"When Buergel writes:" Artists educate themselves by working through
form and subject matter; audiences educate themselves by experiencing
things aesthetically," doesn't this optimism regarding the abilities
of artistic and aesthetic approaches to 'things', forms and subject
matters'echo Lenin's way of freeing the approach to  'things as forms
and subject matters' in philosophical scientific, and political ways
by generalized application of the self education of the working class?
When Buergel concludes, (already having found the answer to his third
question): "Today, education seems to offer one viable alternative to
the devil (didacticism, academia) and the deep blue sea (commodity
fetishism)," one can't withhold the suspicion any longer that maybe
Lenin's project is meant to be finally fulfilled, with a simple switch
from revolution to education.

"Only that Buergel's contribution on a new and viable historical and dialectical materialism does not credit didacticism (the devil) and commodity fetishism (the deep blue se') as true constituents (Bildner) for his own articulation of education as such, (dialectically speaking and more). The commodity fetishism then returns as personal trade mark as the 'great educator', which is revealed by a phrase that has been partly omitted in the English translation of the third leitmotif for the documenta: "To educate/constitute an audience does […] mean indeed to provide for a public sphere." Didacticism in the sense of mass media's compatible style perfectly allows an understanding of education as conservation of values or if preferred as justice finally done to the particularity of 'things'.

The spatial rhetoric at the Halle makes objects of the magazine contributions as if to whom justice has been done, in a 'perfectly understood' regime of conservation, inertia. What value may they conserve? An enhancement of the brand "Documenta 12 Magazines", now in bookstores published by Taschen; inside three volumes one finds a scattering of content from the 100 magazines, more from commissions outside the magazine project? The independent mags give a bit of radical chic to help market the brand.

Claudia again:

"Why not posit:  "Education is empty like a mathematical set" can be
as an alternative to the third documenta leitmotif, freeing it from
the  empty promise of a possible general knowledge, accessible at
least to the artistic director and author? What is to be done...

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