She Oui have OpEnd our tEeth
Yes our eIsszz
from the ICones
Is MoDernity yer After Math ?/Martha Rossler
when you to the multitudes icones page refresh the page after looking, reading/perusing the work of varied artistes
Wed 21 March 2007 23:06:59 Europe/Paris
Dear Jen Allen,
However, following our first long discussion with Georg Schollhammer, and after deliberating among the editorial committee, we decided to distance ourselves from the proposed format and to produce a more “autonomous” contribution -- in critical and clinical interface with Documenta’s proposition.
To do this, we are currently working on a second website (Multitudes-Icons) in which we will expand upon the journal’s contribution to the field of contemporary art, by calling into question the relationship between aesthetics and politics according to our own theoretical practice. As far as this project is concerned, let us say that this theoretical practice takes two principal forms: an immanent critique of cognitive capitalism and a radical critique of its forms of valorization and capture -- to which, as has become increasingly evident, the laboratory of contemporary art with its insides/outsides is not exactly foreign (see for example Multitudes 15: Contemporary art - the search for the outside; Multitudes 28: Extradisciplinary investigations - the critique of artistic institutions).
It may be useful to return to our questions concerning the Documenta device as it was presented to us.
Let us begin with the three questions, and the request for an intervention that would be collective enough to reflect what in previous times would have been called the journal’s “viewpoint.”
We immediately realized that these three themes, whose formulation oscillates between neo-academicism and journalistic abbreviation, and which would obviously have required deconstruction in an inevitable exercice de style that formed the very rules of the game, did not constitute vibrant questions capable of instigating and advancing any sort of collective articulation on our part. (The fact that these three themes have already been redefined differently in Multitudes also reinforced this “negative” determination). As a result, the idea of publishing our responses to questions imposed by Documenta, an event which we would then be de facto promoting, even while they controlled the entire process of selecting texts for the catalogue, appeared to be symptomatic of a contradictory state of affairs, especially considering the democratic-radical-experimental pretensions of the whole initiative. With only a preparatory series of more-or-less touristic meetings, and in the absence of any real discussion of content or collective control over the process, the project of a rhizomatic deployment of journals on Documenta’s web platform appeared to us, in its turn, to be quite problematic.
Furthermore, the impossibility of obtaining information about the event itself and the choice of works in it seemed to nourish outdated divides (incompatible with the journal’s practice, since Multitudes is not an “art magazine,” especially not the rubric “Icons” -- whose title is intentionally provocative, as its aim is to undo images). What also appeared is the division of labor traditionally managed by bureaucrats of art: between theoretical and artistic interventions, texts and images/installations, etc.
That said, our response is in no way the unveiling of a hidden “contradiction” that would animate our relation or non-relation with Documenta. Rather, it’s a matter of taking the opportunity to enter into the constitutive tensions of the politics of art in today’s societies of control and cultural distraction, by adding another turn of the screw... namely, a reversal of perspective according to the artist’s viewpoint on Documenta, establishing something like a “reverse ethnography” where the documenter’s work is observed, decoded and also parodied by the native subject, who becomes the “theoretician” and vanishing point of the device.
Not without relation to our culture of networked activism, our new site Multitudes-Icones seeks to generate interventions that will stimulate an “institutional critique” of the Documenta device by relating it to a broader reflection on politics of/in contemporary art. To do this we will begin with a gesture of ironic affirmation, by sending back to the “artists” three questions (duly de-formed and trans-formed, that is to say, forced), and asking them to evaluate the impact of their “theoretical” positions on their selection (“questions-entries”) or non-selection (“answers-exits”) by Documenta. It goes without saying that all kinds of material (discursive or non-discursive, signifying or not signifying) are welcome. Organized by entries and false exits in an open framework, each response can in its turn be articulated with others, so that hybrid or even “monstrous” answers are composed, transforming each user of the site into a curator-artist of (another?) virtual/real Documenta. Something that we might understand in terms of sublimation or desublimation, utopia or “liberating” dystopia.
A Critical Space will complete the project. Reserved for those identified or disidentified with art, but accessible to all the outcasts of the identifying regime, it will allow critics to organize and comment upon the three entries/exits based on their own evaluation of Documenta.
A blog -- or Clinical Space -- will be simultaneously opened on the site.
With sincere regards,