Well, the problem I have, and maybe others have too, is that the formalism and the professionalism of the museum-university-festival circuit sometimes keeps you from knowing either who you are, or what you’re really talking about. This is not to say we should close the museums, picket the universities, burn the libraries, or go back to the land or whatever. But it is to say that unconventional and dissenting ideas don’t often come out of established and conventional functions. And when everybody tacitly agrees that culture production can only take place under the beneficent gaze of the market and the state, and on their payrolls, what you get in my opinion is very dull and timid attitudes combined with grotesquely simulated and overblown emotions. Or, from the more ambitious and professional types, you may get hyper-specialized discourses and elaborate aesthetic affects, this sort of highly valorized cultural production which appears irrefutable when it comes out of MIT or MoMA, but still doesn’t seem to be what you’re looking for.
To put it in more theoretical terms, there is no possibility of generating a critical counter-power – or counter-public, or counter-public sphere – when there is no search for relative autonomy, or when the self (autos) no longer even asks the questions of how to make its own law (nomos). So the importance of this kind of project is to use it as a moment of experimentation, not just in the quest for the perfect theory or the perfect procedure, but cosmologically, to rearrange the stars above your head. Such events don’t happen often, the only solution is do-it-yourself. It’s also part of the search for the outside, which has existential necessity. I think I’ve learned the most about art and social theory from counter-summits with lines of teargas-belching cops, and from those kinds of anarchist summer universities where you camp out for a week and have a hard time finding a shower, but also get to cooperate directly with people whose words and gestures aren’t totally dissociated from their bodies and their actions. Well, since those moments I have felt a need to develop more complex discourses and experiments, but hopefully not more conventional and complacent ones […]
- Brian Holmes
[The rest of the interview can be found here: Articulating the Cracks in the Worlds of Power. 16 Beaver Group talking with Brian Holmes]