Robert Lucas on Sun, 18 Aug 2002 01:49:35 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> Documenta XI but not really

I have to agree. There is so much facile discussion these days about
calling this or that "art"- hacking, activism, whatever... and at the same
time there is a pressure upon artists to make what they are doing somehow
more politically "valid", as if the "political" value of an artwork were a
real measure of its quality. There have even been endorsements of a
complete abandonment of art altogether in favour of pure political action.
Why are these very different debates so often ridiculously conflated?

Perhaps it's a romantic hangover from the historical avant-gardes- perhaps
it's that every one of us feels a need to be somehow quantifiably
"radical", and that that "radical" must these days always be in the
intermedia where everything intersects apparently with "politics". Perhaps
our little community here is just more concerned with being "radical" than
with art as such or politics, or anything else, as such, and we tie
ourselves up in a neurotic little tangle simply from the effort to locate
ourselves in some kind of vanguard. The amount of times I've seen artists
attempting to get their political, or whatever other, actions regarded as
"art", and their artworks regarded as legitimately "political"... it's
beginning to make me cringe, and in the end these nominations start to
look more and more arbitrary. Why bother? I always want to say- just get
on with doing art, being political, or whatever else you are engaged in.

We have to get over the idea of an autonomous sphere for art that is
devoid of politics, certainly, but this does not mean that we have to
start judging political radicalism as "art", or art by its "politics
value"- such an attitude is unconstructive, oversimplistic, and seems to
owe more to a view of art as autonomous than to any complex or
differential system of relations between the two spheres. "Politics" must
be understood as something that is diffuse, "in" everything from
hacktivism to colour field painting. This obviously does not mean that art
must engage in party, identity, gender, web, representation, or whatever
other politics seem important at the time;  rather, that even by getting
on with just being "art" (even an "art" without distinct location or
properties) the artwork must confront its own "politics" anyway. Likewise,
politics should get on with being politics, hacking with hacking, without
a concern for any near-arbitrary appelation of the word "art". Let each
have its own cultural space, without forgetting that the edges of this
cultural space are always provisional, and always permeable. To tar
everything with the brush of adequate political commitment, as if that was
a fixed value, is to brush over all the specificities and qualities that
that political commitment ought to be fighting for.

>From: "Calin" <>
>Reply-To: "Calin" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: <nettime> Documenta XI but not really
>Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 12:09:46 +0200
>Maybe it is time to notice that tere is not very much space left for
>debating art as an autonomous discipline, with its territory and its


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: