[-empyre-] Curatorial Studies

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Sun Apr 8 14:38:45 EST 2012

On 04/07/2012 11:53 AM, Ana Valdés wrote:

> Can we generate and reproduce radical thoughts and radical actions
> within the System (within the Universities, the Museums, the Galleries,
> the Art market, the publishing industry?).

This is the whole conversation, no? Is it, for example, possible to make 
something valuable out of Curatorial Studies, despite it having to take 
place, by necessity, in a university system that is increasingly corrupt 
- and in the US, totally corrupt, because it feeds and fattens on 
unpayable student debt?

Well, just to go on with your stories, Ana, I always feel totally 
nostalgic for those two amazing Documentas, 10 and 11, which both in 
their ways produced a wide-open and yet deeply invested conversation 
about who we are becoming in the world. My experience of the first one 
began all the way back in 1994, when we started reading the latest 
Marxist interpretations of globalization and finance capital in the 
seminar of Jean-Francois Chevrier in the school of fine arts in Paris. 
Then that seminar became part of a very loose network (a kind of 
inspirational network) of the "emergency university" which was supposed 
to open its doors to all walks of society, in the run-up to the biggest 
and longest general strike in France since 68. And then, after years of 
having these four-hour long explorations of whatever the given visitor 
had to say about their practice in society - these exhausting and 
amazing dialectical and dialogical sessions that went till 10 at night 
and then ended in Chinese restaurants where the wine was cheap - that 
seminar became the laboratory of the Documenta 10 book which I 
translated to English and helped to edit. And after going through all 
that with D10 and learning a tremendous amount (experiences from which I 
would dissuade no one) in the end I found all those people so unbearably 
autocratic that the brilliance of it all just bored me or made me angry 
and I preferred to live in the present where everyone is equal and you 
revolt in the street and try to interpret financially driven 
globalization with 10,000 or 100,000 other people at your back in a 
financial district. And then September 11 happened and in Europe there 
was this sort of shock for a few years and it seemed like not so much 
had changed and only the US had gone off the deep end, and then 
gradually you realized that also in Europe everything was closing down, 
and you couldn't do such challenging things anymore, and the 
philosophers were no longer invited to publish columns in Le Monde, and 
D12 turned out to be a kind of sandbox for aesthetes, and there's a cop 
on every corner, and they're transforming the universities into centers 
for the reproduction of neoliberal capital, and the art people are all 
transfixed by the sound of champagne corks popping at Art Basel etc etc 

I dunno. Finally I came back to the States because I thought if you are 
going to live with the system, you might as well go right there where it 
is strongest and there's no way out, the only possibility is total 

I am gonna go back to Europe this summer, and even next week, and hang 
around at various events, and take in the vibe in various cities, and 
see if the crisis has brought life to what so-called prosperity 
anesthetizes almost as badly as abject povery and brutal repression do, 
namely the heart and the spirit (to use the old terms).

Otherwise, I dunno, can anyone get me a job in the publishing industry?

warmly, Brian

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