Di. 07.10.2014, 18:00 at Flatterschafft: Chus Martinez
In a contribution to the US magazine The Fox in 1975, artist Mark Klienberg wonders: “Could there be someone capable of writing a science-fiction thriller based on the intention of presenting an alternative interpretation of modernist art that is readable by a non-specialist audience?” In posing this question, Klienberg challenges us to imagine a discourse that adopts an atypical form and language, but without reneging on itself, without renouncing the attempt to convey important ideas and generate ways of thinking distinct from the intellectual territories we thought we were familiar with. Klienberg’s paradoxical proposition voices the need to renew our critical vocabulary. Writing, he suggests, can aspire to be something more than the mere exercise of a discourse. In doing so, he takes for granted that art is not political because of its messages, or because of the manner it represents the structures, conflicts and shortcomings of a society. Rather, as Jacques Rancière contends in a lecture he gave at the MACBA in 2002, art is political because it distances itself from political functions, and because of the type of time and space art establishes, and the way it divides that time and populates that space. Art has complete freedom of form. It has complete freedom to generate ambiguity. This is an aspect that, on more than one occasion, arouses the desire to make art “speak” a single language, to clarify the terms of the relations that this complex way of creating meaning establishes with, on the one hand, reality, and, on the other, the viewer. Over the last decade, critical theory and writing have found refuge in many simplified forms of materialism, eroding a potential that finds its home precisely in art’s non-alignment (to use Rancière’s simile) with any pedagogical function. To shield itself from attack by a populism that is increasingly vocal in its defense of the “simple” experience as the sole possibility for agreement between viewer and work, critical theory has turned to formulating what Adorno might have called “order concepts,” that is, the spread of an ideological system that at once interprets and guides, helping to create an orthodoxy that restricts the possibilities of political art to its “message.” The system of communication in the art world has turned complex notions into jargon and has contributed dangerously to instrumentalizing and taming theory. The question is: how does one maintain the rigor and complexity of an intellectual project that seeks to understand art’s commitment to constituting shared forms of life? Meanwhile, how do institutions remain capable of exploring new ways of linking sense and sensibility, thought and experience, object and subject, art and viewer? To cite a maxim that Gilles Deleuze repeats on several occasions in different texts, there is no other method for attaining knowledge than that which exists for locating a treasure on an island. Only the radical, constant exercise of our faculties is left. All that remains is to initiate a movement aimed at inventing a situation which entirely involves the individual and which can “effect,” or touch him or her. The challenge is to explore the sensitive dimension of thought together through the here-and-now of contemporary production. Or, to put it another way, to take up the challenge of building structures that offer multiple forms of multidisciplinary research, where experience is not understood as a passive synthesis of what the subject perceives through the senses, but as a process of discovery which enables us to invent discourse. The goal is no longer to build a model for action, but to thinkwith and from art. For this, we need languages, in the plural, that allow us to open up horizons for researching the increasingly complex creative, social and political processes and, more importantly, to motivate others to attempt the same.