Brian Holmes on Wed, 26 May 2010 10:54:06 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Artist is Present

Michael, it's brilliant to get such an article out of the blue, to
read the unexpected tale in the unfiltered text, to be astonished. The
images lingered with me all day, thank you.

For sure, the US needs its mythic image of formerly repressive regimes
and heroic dissidents from the exotic past to distract from the fact
that anyone who tries to do anything spontaneously on American streets
today will immediately face the police - and if your gesture is not
yet illegal according to hundreds of meticulously written laws new
and old, then the blue-suited audience will stand and stare just to
let you know that yes, your wretched presence can be tolerated for
the moment, pending further orders. But in this land of integral
transcendent freedom there is no political puppetmaster with snifter
and cigar to reflect on the genius of the ruling myth. Instead an
entire ruling priesthood of politicians, lawyers, mediacrats, pop
stars, governators, corporados and financeers keeps the bouncing ball
of implicit and unwavering belief up in the air before the cameras.
Anti-communism by any other name will do just fine for an ideology.
America is a thousand-year Reich as long as Hitler moustaches can be
painted on the others, Saddam, the Taliban, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il
and why not Tito? Whoever he was or might have been.

Curiously it was just the other day that I watched Predictions of Fire
once again, and I was left reflecting on the galaxies of inchoate
signifiers of existence that are ceaselessly recombined by the pros,
to form that elusive sparkle in the monumental eye of power.

What interests a human being on the ground is the other's gaze, the
lover's gaze, the arrow that has been held taught in the string and
pierced not the flesh by its release but the heart by its withdrawal.
In art and love we keep the possibility of true action and true speech
alive, it's the ascesis of passion amidst the sludge of Gulf Coast
news and the infinite consumerist maul of undesired satiety. The
current impossibility of changing political scenarios should send
everyone on a collective Night Sea Crossing, seeking clues in millions
of faces that can give meaning to each last look and found a secret
language: the uncrackable cypher of resistance to symbolic entropy.
Who is your Ulay? Where is your Great Wall? The real question is
whether it is still possible to be in the first person, singular
and plural. I love the work that I remember from the museums but I
flee the eight-meter effigies and the re-performances of pasts that
obliterate the present.

best from a late Paris night,

Brian Holmes

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