History at work?

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Reflection #2

The working subject counted as a part of the work produced by this certain subject may sound inevitable, but, being distanced from your own work is normal, as I am to this text. You may notice my presence – at least in the writing of the “I”, but at the same time you don’t get to know mutch about the circumstances under which I am writing, exept that the text must have passed through an electronic device in the end. Anyhow, I am right here, and I will tell you how it is.

I am sitting in a large space, actually it is a black box. A film is being screened, but since I know the language spoken, I manage to follow the dialogue through listening, while writing. Sometimes I lift my eyes to have a quick look at the screen. Most often I do so when writing one of those words that I am so used to write that I don’t really have to look at the keyboard when pressing the keys down.

If the text will be affected by this half-time regarding a cinematic archive research on Félix Guattari and the animist subject, is up to you to decide. But, if you ask me; of course the text is affected by the writing circumstances. The text is its circumstances. But, how to make these circumstances visible without making them part of the work that is being produced? How to use the surroundings without including them; to work from inside the work, making your conditions visible only on the outside – perhaps in a Q&A, in an interview or when speaking to a friend, a mother, a partner. The subject and the artist subject, the research and the artistic research; some people prefer a distinction, others don’t.

Zanele Muholi_2

For me this question is important when discussing who is actually part of a piece. Am I a part, or is only the part of me that contributes with a sort of product, presentation; representation of my activation, that is? Who am I, then, the body and the subject contributing to the realisation of all this? I take a step back, the piece is presented, perhaps celebrated. Me, as an artist, may be saluted, but as a human being, I stay at home, with the five minutes of Florian Feigl, the 3 square meters of Mamela Nyamza and the exhaustion of my body. In the middle of this complex relation between being and beings, Kieth Henessy brings up the notion of the male genious – the only one whos image is as important as the images that he presents. The genious, who manage to do both. Is it because he is a piece of art himself, or because everything he touches become art? Whatever answer you prefer, you may agree with me when I write that most often, history is written by this genious – a certain deciding part; the winner. Trying to visualise this, Kieth Henessy draws a model of the history of art and philosophy. He calls it a Salute to Joseph Beus, repeating the artists most famous statement; everyone is an artist.

photo by Yi-Chun Wu

So, who am I to write this? A male genious discussing, even criticising the notion of a male genious saying everyone is a male genious. Florian Feidl approaches the problem differently. In the performance Pushing dirt, he is pushing dirt. Golden dirt, and just dirt. The piece was developed during the five minutes of freedom per day, that he promised himself when having small kids. Time was – and is – elastic, but still very short.

Leena Kela

– It is what I do, he sais, and sighs, representing the artist not really succeeding in incorporating his private life in his artistery.
Mamela Nyamzas piece Vena Mamela was developed on the base of European fundings – on the base of which she chose to use the stereotype wiew of the african female body – that she inhabits herself. When explaining the scenary, she make it clear that she enjoy working at home – where her familly simultaneoulsy can serve as her dramaturgs, audience and directors.
– For me, the studio is a dead space, she sais, the voice echoing in the generous space of the Danshallarna foyer. This is why the space in which she act is narrow; 3 square meters. The rest of the blackbox; void.

Zanele Muholi_1

To sum up, I want to go back to a frequently discussed question; whether the artistic research is to be counted as a part of the academia. Without taking the long way around, discussing the history of aestethics, artes liberales and the genious within, I would instead like to point out the contrasting group of artist subjects and human subjects. As discussed by Janez Janša and Bojana Kunst during a conference on artistic research at the Danish National School of Performing Arts, the artistic research must be presented subjectivily, not within the group that actually produces the research. At the same time, the artist subject can hardly claim his/her personal rights as a human being. Economically and politically, artists are regarded as a group, a collective, a subversive mass – encouraged working and applying for fundings in amorphous, project-based groups. The question is how long it will take before the human can be accepted as an artist, while the white male genious, is neglected to only be regarded as a group. What history will be presented then – and who will represent it?

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