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

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 08:34:30 EST 2009

I'd like to reply quickly to Anna's point, which is certainly valid,
when you talk about various artistic endeavors which are actively
opposed to ideological capitalism and its associated phenomena.  On
the other hand, Nick has a point, if we are speaking from strictly
theoretical ground: Capitalism is an "art," in that it is an artifice
which actualizes its intentions creatively, in the way that, say, a
visual artist works from a concept to make an idea manifest itself in
a socially effective form.  But I don't know that most people would
consider it Art, in the way that we normally think of art.
Conversely, there is much in "art" which approaches finance--trading,
speculating, working, borrowing, stealing, etc.

And while much of the artists which Anna references are likely to
contain and, at time, even epitomize some of the traits of
capitalism...  in practical terms, these movements are opposed to
capitalism as an ideology.  The difference might be seen in these
terms:  A hitchhiker might enjoy frequent trips in an automobile, but
is different from a car owner.  Both ride in cars.  But one is
responsible for the vehicle, the other one isn't.

Personally, I want art that is socially powerful, and that can serve
as a battleground for competing ideologies.  I want better maps of
social relations.  But, at the same time, if you imagine that art has
the prime responsibility for critiquing capitalism...  or even if it
has any inherent responsibility at all...  you risk overshadowing the
responsibility of critics, of legislators, of , even, capitalists, but
mostly of citiznes to bear the chief burden of building a just



On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 2:48 AM, Anna Munster <A.Munster at unsw.edu.au> wrote:
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> 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
> Paddington
> NSW 2021
> 612 9385 0741 (tel)
> 612 9385 0615(fax)
> a.munster at unsw.edu.au
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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