September 28, 2009

Excerpt from The Seven Madmen


I’m telling you honestly – I don’t know if our society would be Bolshevik or fascist. Sometimes I think the best thing would be to concoct such an unholy mixture that not even God could untangle it. I’m being completely frank with you now. For the moment, what I’m aiming for is a huge undefined mass which could accommodate every possible human aspiration. My plan is to target young Bolsheviks, students and intelligent proletarians. We will also welcome all those who have some grandiose scheme for reshaping the universe, all those clerks who dream of becoming millionaires, all the failed inventors, all those who have lost their job, whatever it might have been, those who are being taken to court and have no idea where to turn…

The strength of our society won’t depend so much on what its members donate as on the earnings from the brothel each cell will run. And when I talk of a secret society I don’t mean the traditional kind, but a super-modern one, in which each member or associate has a stake and earns a profit – that’s the only way to get them to identify more and more closely with its aims, although these will only really be known to a few. That’s the commercial side of things. The brothels will guarantee enough income to support the growing number of ventures the society undertakes. We’ll set up a revolutionary training camp in the mountains. The new recruits will undergo instruction in anarchist tactics, revolutionary propaganda, military engineering, industrial relations, so that the day the leave the colony they can set up a branch of the society anywhere… D’you follow me? The secret society will have its own academy, the Academy for Revolutionaries.

- from The Seven Madmen (1929) by Roberto Arlt


September 27, 2009



Could there be a term for some very extreme form of passive-aggressive behavior, something like: passive-psychotic.


Art / Therapy


To tell someone that their art is ‘therapy’ is generally seen as an insult, it is a way of saying their work is self-indulgent, that it is too much about them (the artist) and not enough about us (the spectator, reader or viewer). There is of course nothing wrong with therapy but, like masturbation, it is something we mainly feel should be done in private (or among close friends.)

But what if there was another sense in which art might be analogous to therapy, that through the activity of making art the artist works through certain things, feels better, and this ‘feeling better’ is contagious, pushes through to have a positive effect on the viewer.

Those who know me will know that this is not particularly my own experience of making art. It’s only that I often find myself wondering why.


September 24, 2009

Sylvère Lotringer Quote


Nina Power: Do you think art has become indeterminate as well?

Sylvère Lotringer: Absolutely. This has little to do with individual works – whether good or bad – only with the dizzying change of scale, the massive production, circulation and consumption world-wide. The art market has expanded exponentially and has been losing its shape to achieve monstrous proportions. It is occupying all the space, wildly metastasizing in every possible direction. It is so bloated at the core that it doesn’t seem able anymore to digest all the data. It is on its way to surpass its function. The early 1980s orchestrated the return to painting, and gave the art market a chance to fasten its hold. But it didn’t stop there and it didn’t take long before art started outgrowing its own boundaries, opening itself up to the exchangeability of capital. First it absorbed photography, until then considered unworthy; then it move to architecture, fashion and design. Along the way, it has integrated ‘outsider art’, abolishing its own internal limit, and put together ubiquitous ‘installations’ liable to be pitched anywhere and provide a fast pedigree for ‘rogue nations’. Today it is difficult to imagine anything that could be excluded from art. Its field has expanded exponentially to include the entire society. Along the way, it has grabbed anything that could be used for its own purpose, recycling garbage, forging communities, investigating political issues and perfumes, tampering with biology, etc., simultaneously appearing and disappearing with an ambiguous promiscuity. Art has finally fulfilled the program of Dada with a vengeance, embedding art into life. The only thing left for art to do is ‘auto-dissolve.’ Most avant-gardes promised too much and never delivered. Their manifestos of ‘auto-dissolution’, on the contrary, revealed them at their most radical and paroxysmal moment. This moment has come to contemporary art, and it may even spare itself the trouble of publicizing its own exit. Forget art then. Unless it is capable of bringing us up to the next paradigmatic shift, as Andy Warhol once did, forgetting about its own name and past history. Artists themselves maybe have been showing the way by venturing so far astray from home. All it would take is to cut off the umbilical cord that still ties art to the market, or rather turn it into a rich rhizome. Some art groups are already working at it. Autonomists used to say, ‘The margins at the centre’. We haven’t yet given art a chance to grow autonomously.


September 20, 2009

Excerpt from the script of Stalin By Picasso Or Portrait of Woman With Moustache by Lene Berg


Scene 1: Ingredients

Joseph Stalin and Pablo Picasso did not have very much in common – perhaps. Except that they were both communists.

Also, they were both very short men.

In fact, if they had been here, I would have looked down on both of them, even without heels.

But neither of them are here; they are both dead.

What I have is a copy of the drawing; the original is lost, they say.

Maybe it disappeared because of all the troubles it caused – or maybe somebody threw it away by accident, just like that; we may never know…

Scene 2: A Surprise

The drawing [a portrait of Stalin by Picasso] was first published in the French communist weekly Les Lettres françaises on the 12th of March, 1955. It was surrounded by articles honoring the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who had died the week before:

A few days after the publication, in a small town in the south of France, Pablo Picasso found himself surrounded by journalists on his way to work.
They asked him: Had he read the newspaper L’Humanité that morning?
Didn’t he know that the Communist Party had condemned him and Aragon, the editor, for publishing the drawing?
- It’s on the front page, Mr. Picasso!
- What would you say if they expelled you from the Party?
- Did you mean to mock Stalin with your drawing?

Pablo Picasso, who was 72 years old at the time, told them he hadn’t read L’Humanité that morning and added: “I suppose the Party has the right to condemn me, but there must be a misunderstanding, because I meant no harm.”

When Picasso finally reached his studio, he may have taken the time to read L’Humanité, or at least the front page, where the Secretariat of the French Communist Party wrote that they categorically disapproved of the publication of Comrade Picasso’s portrait of the Great Stalin.

“Without doubting the sentiments of the great artist Picasso, whose attachment to the cause of the working class is well known to all, the Secretariat of the French Communist Party regrets that comrade Aragon, who in other areas fights courageously for the development of realist art, permitted the publication.”

What went through Pablo Picasso’s mind as he read this is hard to say, of course, but he was quoted in Le Monde the following day, saying:
“…I don’t understand. Normally one doesn’t criticize people who send their condolences… One doesn’t pick on them for the kind of tears they cry in front of the coffin. It is normal to thank them, even if the funeral wreath is not particularly beautiful, or the flowers are fading.”

Read more about it here:


September 16, 2009

One possible approach to a new art movement


One possible approach to a new art movement:

A pragmatically oriented group without a shared philosophy.