[-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Sat Apr 25 17:48:56 EST 2009

Sorry Nikos but as to your rhetorical 'no' below, I resoundingly reply  
NO WAY!!. There is a world of difference between responding (rather  
than reacting which is really what Joseph is talking about) to a  
social, economic and political crisis using aesthetic strategies and  
techniques vs. the 'arts' of finance, government or whatever other  
institution you want to aestheticise.
(a la Benjamin et al).

The examples that Nik and Marc are talking about (and also what Brian  
Holmes has been involved with) are emphatically not abut knee jerk  
response or reaction but are about using nonrepresentational aesthetic  
strategies - among a multitude of strategies which also include  
activist, semiotic, political, social and affective ones – to  
transform subjective and collective situations. These are immanent,  
critical, positive and productive relationships with crisis ie they do  
not respond to  crisis but rather work amid, through and via crisis to  
work with what might be transformative about crises. And these  
aesthetic strategies are absolutely everywhere both in and out of the  
'art world' eg Critical Art Ensemble, Harwood and Mongrel,16Beaver,  
rebublicart project, The Senselab, eipcp, Make World, edu factory, The  
Thing, Serial Space (sydney -based for all you North Americans who  
need to get out more ;-)  etc etc etc. And these are just the artists/ 
collectives/projects - there's also a wealth of brilliant art theory  
around this - try Hito Steyerl, Gerald Raunig, Brian Holmes, Matthew  
Fuller, Florian Schneider, Brian Massumi all the FLOSS+art etc etc etc

There is NO relation between these kind of politics, responses and  
aesthetics and the 'art' of finance - except a relation of revulsion.  
On the other hand, if you want to find out about a really fantastic  
installation that engaged directly with the stock market and in fact  
used a gambling syndicate's money to trade stocks as part of the  
actual art work - have a look at Micheal Goldberg's documentation of  
his 2002 work 'Catch a Falling Knife' (http://www.michael-goldberg.com/main.html 
  - go into Projects and select the title of the piece).

Just another point I'd like to make about this month's discussion - I   
have found some of the posts scary and stupid in their absolute lack  
of knowledge about anything that is going on about contemporary art,  
aesthetic strategies and politics. I really think some people need to  
do a bit of preliminary research and investigation before they start  
sounding off about  how boring or naive the concept of aesthetically  
responding to crisis is,

Best Anna

On 24/04/2009, at 10:36 PM, Nicholas Ruiz III wrote:

> nk...another aspect of interest is the way in which the financial  
> realm in itself is a creative act, and artful...with all of the  
> discussion revolving around the perception/reading parallax, I  
> wonder how people in the artistic/academic community may not  
> perceive/read financial creativity as art at all...I suspect such  
> financial activity is a form of art, which contains all of the  
> aspirations, triumphs and failures that any art project may enable,  
> no?
> nikos
> Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
> Editor, Kritikos
> http://intertheory.org
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: nick knouf <nak44 at cornell.edu>
> To: -empyre- <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 1:07:11 PM
> Subject: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"
> Dear empyre,
> It's strange that it's the 16th of the month (at least where I am),  
> yet
> there has been little sustained discussion of present-day artistic
> responses to this so-called financial "crisis"--one that exists in a
> mythical realm of numbers-that-we-cannot-perceive, but that sadly has
> very real impacts on people.  Responses by students, academics, and
> activists have not been limited to the resignation of acceptance, nor
> abstract theorizing in and of itself, but rather have taken, at times,
> forms of protest and occupation throughout the world, as well as  
> direct
> actions against banking institutions.  (See, in particular the story  
> of
> Enric Duran:
> http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20090319182858556 and
> http://17-s.info/en .)  How then might we understand these actions
> within the context of our own theorizing activities?
> This should reflect a special concern as to the impact of this  
> "crisis"
> on academic and cultural institutions.  Indeed, the occupations and
> protests at schools---NYU, the New School, University of Rochester,
> institutions in Italy and France and Spain and...---suggest the deep
> worry that many have regarding how the "crisis" might ultimately  
> move to
> transform culture and learning into more and more reified situations
> governed by numbers and the market.  (The Bologna process is coming to
> the states: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/education/09educ.html .)
> In response there have been discussions and interviews about how we  
> can
> use this time of "crisis" to develop new models that exist in parallel
> to concurrent struggles to force governments to provide for the basic
> needs of people.  (See in particular "Interviewing the Crisis":
> http://www.interviewingthecrisis.org/ .)  How might we then reconsider
> actions and activities of the past and present and future---TAZs,
> tactical media, pirate radio, and many, many, more---in light of calls
> for more standardization and more "accountability"?
> And whither the academic institution?  Corporations have fairly free
> reign in many departments at colleges and universities in the United
> States.  Are we to expect even more of these so-called "public-private
> partnerships" in the future?  What is the role of the institution in
> producing the people who created the "crisis" in the first place?  Who
> will follow the links between the powerful actors in order to map  
> their
> impact?
> I present here a recent project of mine that is my own attempt to face
> some of these issues.  MAICgregator (http://maicgregator.org) is a
> Firefox extension that aggregates information about colleges and
> universities embedded in the military-academic-industrial (MAIC)
> complex. It searches government funding databases, private news  
> sources,
> private press releases, and public information about trustees to try  
> and
> produce a radical cartography of the modern university via the
> replacement or overlay of this information on academic websites.
> MAICgregator is available for download right now:
> http://maicgregator.org/download .  If you want to see what  
> MAICgregator
> does to a website without downloading it, you can look at some
> screenshots: http://maicgregator.org/docs/screenshots .  This is its
> first public release, so expect that things might not work properly.
> I have written an extensive statement about MAICgregator that tries to
> contextualize it within discourses of net.art, the
> military-academic-industrial complex, "data mining", and activist
> artistic practices.  As the statement is rife with embedded links,
> please read it online:
> http://maicgregator.org/statement
> I welcome any feedback or discussion that this might provoke; if you
> want to e-mail the project authors directly, please e-mail info --at--
> maicgregator ---dot--- org.
> http://maicgregator.org/
> nick knouf
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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A/Prof. Anna Munster
Assistant Dean, Grant Support
Acting Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
School of Art History and Art Education
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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