We are currently in a situation in which displacement. This permanent displacement provides a location for refusal and collective ennui. The projection of the critical moment is the political potential of the discursive. It is not a location for action, but instead provides an infinite suspension of critical moments—the opposite of performance. This is its “just-around-the-corner-ness”—a permanent interplay of micro-critical expressions within the context of a “setting.” Projects arch suspension and repression are the dominant models. There is anxiety about who controls the reshaping of the stories of the recent past. The discursive framework has been predicated upon the rejection of the idea of a dominant authored voice. Clear-cut, authored content is considered to be politically, socially, and ideologically suspect. However, there is still the feeling that stories get told, that the past is being reconfigured, and that the near future gets shaped. There is a constant anxiety within the discursive frame about who is doing this, who is marking time. The discursive is the only structure that allows you to project a problem just out of reach and to work with that permanent displacement. Every other mode merely reflects a problem, generates a problem, denies a problem, and so on. The discursive framework projects a problem just out of reach, and this is why it can also confront a socio-economic system that bases its growth upon “projections.” In the discursive art process we are constantly projecting. We are projecting that something will lead to something else “at some point.” True work, true activity, true significance will happen in a constant, perpetue realized that expose a power relationship with the culture. They achieve this through an adherence to parasitical techniques: destroying relations of production through a constant layering of profoundly differing and contradictory aims. Somehow it might be possible to bring together small groupings and create temporary, suspended, semi-autonomous frameworks. It is possible that we have seen a rise in the idea of parasitical relationships to the point where they have reached a fluid state of acceptance. We may have reached a moment of constant reoccupation, recuperation, and aimless renovation. Maybe the discursive makes possible a parasite without a host—feeding off copies of itself, speaking to itself, regenerating among its own kind. – Liam Gillick, Maybe it would be better if we worked in groups of three? Part 1 of 2: The Discursive, e-flux, January 2009

I believe that the emotional makeup of people is a system not unlike the circulatory system or the muscular system. And if you can make a film that not only lays bare that system but is itself constructed out of those things, it would be an incredible thing to witness and to feel. – Francis Ford Coppola in conversation with Brian de Palma, Filmmakers Newsletters, May 1974

The Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso (1858-1928), one of the few artists recognised by the Futurists as models, began in the late nineteenth century to devote his attention increasingly to photography. He photographed the reproductions of his sculptures over and over again, experimented with photographic paper, photo-plates and enlargements, until only the traces of the original image were left. When he exhibited some of his photographic experiments in Paris shortly before the turn of the century, Degas is said to have cried out: ça c’est de la peinture ! – Michaela Chiriac, The Image from the Image: The Disappearance and Appearance of Images in the Works of Marieta Chirulescu, Kunsthalle Basel, 2010

I don’t want my work to feel all sweat-soaked and tortured. I’d like to be like a crooner, effortless seeming, smooth. That doesn’t mean it actually is easy. And it doesn’t mean you don’t have backbone, or even aggression. Like Frank Sinatra. Or Miles Davis, maybe. It’s like magic. I want my things to just appear. Not be painted. Just appear. – from “What I Would Say If I Were Christopher Wool” by Richard Hell, Whitewall, Nr. 3 (Autumn 2006)

One day, a gallerist met a man named Russell who had an ambitious idea. He thought the history of painting should be divided in two. The paintings that have a painting of themselves depicted, and the rest. The paintings that contain themselves, and the rest. Later in time, the gallerist decided to make an exhibition of all the Russell paintings. […] And at some point he called a painter friend, and asked him to make a painting of the exhibition, to immortalize it! […] The gallerist inspected it, and hung it in the only available space there was, as it was the last Russell painting in the world to have been made. But the painter drew his attention to the fact that the scene he had painted had now been modified. His painting didn’t contain all the Russell paintings anymore. He now had to fix his painting. He had to add his own painting to the All the Russell paintings. […] The gallerist then asked the painter to erase the image of itself. […] But now the painting couldn’t be titled All the Russell paintings, so he painted the painting in it again. What a problem! They erased it and painted it, they erased it and painted it again, forever… – excerpt from Not To Belong to Themselves (2018) by Mario Garcia Torres

The ‘humanized object’ – that is, the artwork – cannot be compared to a living being, ethically speaking, or in terms of the creation of intensity. It is a philosophical mistake – as Winnicott explains – to conceive a newborn baby in itself, because this newborn baby, without an adult in immediate and continuous proximity, would die. The artwork is also a purely artificially maintained artefact that entirely depends on human presence and only exists as such because the spectator is there – as a reality or as a potentiality. Processes of subjectivation are influenced by encounters with objects. I would say that this is what artists are interested in and that it cannot be described in terms of the impact of an artwork on a public. The influence of the subject on the object is what capitalism in general – and collectors in particular – are obsessed with: the hand of the artist, the product which is the result of the worker’s labour. Extracting oneself from the relationships created by advanced capitalism is technically and practically difficult but emotionally very easy. – Claire Fontaine, Giving shape to painful things for Radical Philosophy, September/October 2012

Fernando Pessoa. The Anarchist Banker (1922)

Speaking of Tintoretto and then of the Impressionists, Eco talks about painterly marks creating a state of animation and aliveness: a cacophony of information wherein the sign becomes “imprecise, ambiguous. But not so the forms themselves.” [The Open Work, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1989, p. 85] Thanks to a degree of formal composition, the eye of the observer can still recognize Monet’s cathedrals as cathedrals, even as they are on the verge of “liquefaction, of dissolution.” In this state of near obscuration, the “open work” remains inexhaustible, as we are unable to access it in its entirety. In doing so, the work enacts the fact that we do not operate in a well-controlled world based on universally acknowledged, totally graspable laws. We exist in a state of almost collapsing movement, where norms (from cathedrals to music scores to governance) must be negotiated, questioned and made strange. In this sense a key feature of the open work is enacting and creating defamiliarization. Defamiliarization might occur when a subject disengages herself from her dominant normative vision of the “bounded-self” and starts to think in ways that connect her, complexly, to others. This is what Rosi Braidotti maintains, and it’s a part of her methodology of posthuman critical theory. Put simply, defamiliarization teaches us to think differently. – A Not So Sad September, Cally Spooner on Umberto Eco’s ‘open work’, Flash Art International, Issue 308, May 2016

Pyongyang Elegance: Notes on Communism by Amalia Ulman for Affidavit.art, February 12, 2018

Candice Lin. A Hard White Body

I guess the very existence of the artworld as we know it is hoisted and buttressed by a suspended set of values that must also collapse with the fiction of liberal democracy. And it’s complicated because without the whole circus, none of our work means a thing. The objects become totemic, faith trophies or whatever – at best, that is. At worst, it’s all just a bunch of worthless junk full of stolen tropes and cynical jokes. Most of the problems we spend our time discussing in the artworld are not real problems; they’re philosophical or theological conceits, really, and nothing will change through the value-production-industrial complex of endless panel discussions. The world as we know it may very well be ending, not in the Alt-Right, accelerationist sense but in the Wildersonian afropessimist sense; this would mean the end of the artworld too, of course. We would all have to find some other way to make a living if making a living was still something one did. And/or we would give ourselves wholly to the business of life. There are artistries in everything. But I think again of faith, somehow necessary where art is not. In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower the main character Lauren Olamina is what I would call an artist, and this helps her survive apocalyptic conditions where others cannot. – Jesse Darling on Faith, Crisis, and Refusal via http://momus.ca/

Okwui Enwezor. Questionnaire on “The Contemporary”

Paintings that picture the female gaze looking onto “herself” becoming a man who in turn embodies the rhetorical gaze of the viewer who is, meanwhile, consuming both. Multiple women and one man; a seemingly classic power structure. How many women have been the object of painting? How many “girls” sell the work (back to the delicious Picabia)? And who is this effete, corporate-suited “Graham,” seeing himself as a girl in a skirt or panties actively posing à la théorie de la jeune-fille ? This is fantasy. This is the controlled choreography of Capitalism. This is not desire. This is Carpenter presenting farce feeding itself to us, presenting Carpenter as the artist. If the girl is the subject in the act of looking at herself for others, she has been hijacked by this Tony Blair-looking businessman in the bathroom mirror; who does not dominate necessarily, but does manage to undermine the subject of our looking. We are complicit. – The Man In The Mirror, Sarah Morris on Merlin Carpenter at Galerie Neu, Berlin, Texte Zur Kunst n°107

Stephen Prina

Let’s put it this way: I have little interest in the position of autonomous authorship that I obviously inhabit, and I have absolutely no interest in making it the subject matter of my writing or even present it as something special. So when I’ve written something that, in the process of writing, I believe I’ve never read anywhere else before, I tend to try and find a section that says the same thing before I did. Then I replace my so-called “own” with the so-called “other”. To me it is more important to place myself within a network of thinking and thought-paths rather than trail after the old-fashioned chimaera called ‘artist’ that propounds one has produced something unique and new. Which means that I prefer the quoted text to “my own” but I make a bow towards the sources by stating more than once where they do come from. The quoted idea may come up again about 40 pages later, this time without any hint towards the source, but that’s because I rely on the readers to notice “Ah, here we’ve got someone like Hubert Fichte or Jack Smith again. But they were introduced some time before.” I do not really use quotation marks. Simply because I do not believe in the enclosed autonomy of the Other. I regard that as open as anything else. That’s why I follow a form of writing that was propagated by feminists such as Hélène Cixous, who describes feminine text as openly accessible from the top and the bottom, from both sides, from the front and the back. – Direction Artiste – Appendix – A Conversation with Thomas Meinecke, David Lieske at Lovaas Munich, November 16, 2017 – December 16, 2017