[-empyre-] to Zach, Dan and Dave: direct and not so direct

daniel p. lichtman danielp73 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 13 00:55:37 EST 2009

Hi there, and thanks very much, Renate, for the question. I'll try to
keep my response concise.

> Dan and Dave critically engage capitalism, global political structures,
> and war technology.  Your “institute” invites social change by inviting
> guest speakers or engaging participation via the  “internet” through
> blogging and the wiki collectively. You write:
> “participants in the project will collaboratively produce a web and print
> publication that explores the possibilities of cultural production in
> contestation, or outside the realm of current economic and political
> conditions.  The content and distribution system of this publication will
> be collectively decided and enacted.

In considering how artists might act in contestation of Neoliberalsim,
we thought a lot about how artistic discourse is formed, and the
institutional structures through which it is legitimated and promoted.
We were mostly interested in how Neoliberalism, and in this context,
the art market system, provide room for what is "other"--alternative
spaces, collective spaces, street art, you name it--in order to absorb
it and eventually, if it is profitable, recuperate and exploit it.
Adam Simon, our guest speaker at the first meeting of the IAR,
articulated this process in describing how the commercial art market
and alternative art scenes have a symbiotic relationship with each
other--the former supports the latter in order to legitimate it's
"cultural value" while the latter requires the former not only for
financial support but to provide pathways back into the mainstream,
"legitimated" gallery-magazine-museum world.

Our project will culminate (or at least reach a point of transition)
with the production of a print publication that will incorporate the
thinking and work done during both our discussions at Exit Art and the
online wiki (www.instituteforaestheticresearch.org). We provide both
physical and online space for this collective debate and decision. I
think that rather than seeing the wiki as a "virtual space," we see it
as a powerful expansion of the potential of the physical discussions.
The editability and historical recording of changes that are provided
by a wiki (which we are all familiar with) open a space in which is it
easy to produce and collaborate text and media production--which is
not so easy to do sitting in a circle having a discussion.

That "the content and disctribution system of this publication will be
collectively decided and enacted" is key to the project. Our political
contribution is as much the process leading up to publication as the
content contained within it... Tackling with how to formulate and
distribute the publication, which will be decided by the group, will
require a consideration of the political issues at hand. This process
itself is what we're most interested in, which we hope to be an
experiential, inter-personal response to art in the wake of
Neoliberalism as much as a response manifest only in language itself.

Perhaps the IAR's consideration of the viral relates primarily to the
economy of exchange of aesthetic ideas and strategies within the
capitalist system and the art world. We're hoping to provide an
innovative,  self-critical and collaborative space for artistic and
political thought that can work towards operating outside of this
system--or at least think about what that would mean.

A few things that might deserve some questioning: how does the
inclusion of the wiki and this paradigm of collaboration change the
nature of the physical discussion--how do they relate to each other?
Conversely, how does relating the wiki to a local, physical community
change the manner by which conversation is enacted in this online

Looking forward to the next few days and weeks of conversation.


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