January 16, 2013

Protest and Projects


Your rent goes up, you now need to work more hours to pay it, which means less free hours to protest the underlying political changes that led to the increase. A vicious cycle. When you are unemployed do you have time to protest or must you spent that time looking for work. There is something about time, about everyone remaining overextended, that keeps the status quo in place. When you are busy all the time, stopping, even for a moment, produces anxiety. Being precariously busy for money is the ego-gratifying trap that keeps each life in place, little time to think, little time to dream of anything else. And what would something else look like? Weekends and vacations are only shadows. And yet the hands want to work. There is one kind of anxiety when the overwork addiction momentarily pauses, and another kind when one genuinely does not feel useful in the world. Or to feel one's use in perfectly doing nothing, more perfectly then anyone has ever done nothing for as long as life exists. Some have too much work, others too little. Some die of obesity, others of starvation. And, in the end, we all die a natural death of too much time.

We are working on things. We are working on projects. Some of these projects will be seen by a few people and some by a few more. These few and few more are all, also, working on projects, only some of which we will see. In ten years most of these projects will still exist, in twenty years less, in fifty years I would guess, generously, less than half, and in one hundred years considerably less than that. In two hundred years we will be lucky if one or two of these projects made by us today, made by those who come to see our projects, or by those who go see their projects, are still being viewed or considered by anyone. And yet now there are hundreds if not thousands. Perhaps some will exist in an archive or library waiting to be rediscovered. Maybe it won't be one or two, maybe ten or twenty, I have been accused of being too pessimistic in the past. Will the world two hundred years from now still be livable, recognizable, and why doesn't this question matter more to how we proceed today? One truism might be: projects have no future; but any historical period in art has produced a majority of works that were left behind. Art is what survives, is a quote I once heard attributed to Duchamp, and he has certainly done so, survived, at least until now. Is there a point of no return, past which one's survival is genuinely assured? Might we still forget about Rembrandt, about Kafka, about art?


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