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

I define the archive as a “para-institution.” And this relates to the fact that I conceive the archive as an artistic instrument of self-historicising (which in many cases blends with the artwork itself). The para-institution of the artist’s archive was designed for recording, presenting and diffusing ephemeral, often subversive activities, and it produced autonomous contexts. Artists’ archives often reflect on how the ideological apparatuses manipulate everyday life, moreover they inscribe the artwork in history from the artist’s standpoint. That does not only mean that they put the artwork in circulation and communicate it within a limited circle of kindred spirits. Frequently the artist’s archive has a further role, involving an attempt to control the reception of the work in the local and international setting. Such an approach takes a number of levels of comparative research into account. Work at the varying levels of textual or pictorial documents demands a re-evaluation of the relationship of original and copy and must reflect the documents’ modes of production and reproduction, and must also take into account their unique, unrepeatable arrangement in the artist’s archive. One cannot reduce the artist’s archive exclusively to purposes of communication. With the deliberate multiplication and diffusion of documents, things come to a point where archival practices break free from the instrumentalisation, reification and commodification of the artwork. – Daniel Grúň, Monument to a Heroine. Július Koller’s Archive and Processes of Self-Historicisation, September 2017

If I close my eyes at any point during the day, under any circumstance, I can clearly visualise images that have been etched into my memory. Sometimes they are important ones that bring comfort, that are capable of transporting us to a moment in our lives that makes us feel safe. I like to think of them as a sort of vital pedestal; a base to lean on for support in order to carry on walking. – Juan Canela, Walking with Images, August 2017

Silvia Federici. Undeclared War: Violence Against Women