Turnaround

Diedrich Diederischsen‘s article in the September Artforum offers a welcome confirmation of my own ideas about non-participation:

“Unfortunately, contemporary attempts at the creation of resistance, especially in the hysterical versions of activist political art that desires direct and unmediated action, seem insufficiently to recognize the central, relevant, ever more dominant characteristics of the current form of the culture industry, of exploitation, of the new gigantic. Nor is the solution yet more inclusion, participation and integration. That would only be a superfluous celebration of what has already happened on the level of technology and is anyway already normative in the workplace. The opposite course—of active isolation, separation, and the drawing of distinctions—is too undialectically antagonistic to be truly possible. It is, however, in this direction that we must go.”

I’m particularly happy with this because I worry that readers might think I advocate an apolitical withdrawal, despite having explicitly said the opposite. Meanwhile, Diederichsen’s article is complemented by John Kelsey’s contribution to the same issue. He expresses disgust and weariness with the culture of “connectivity” and “networking,” and points out rightly that “isolation has been systematically designed into connectivity.” But the more I ponder this the less novel it seems. Diederichsen’s own short history of media proves that it was always so, in very different and particular ways of course. The “next-level” of the ongoing state of emergency is not a new level, just an intensification of the same—but then that is always a matter of perspective. For my money, the discontents of the new connectivity call for some distance on the hyperbolic rhetoric of the technology industry—the claim to “change the world.” The real crisis is economic. More later.

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