“Making Beyond Nothingness: An Artistic Challenge to the Unaesthetic Language of the Public Space.”
This study is presented as an exhibition (in my case, a series of artefacts) supported by an exegesis. My purpose is to pursue a paradox of possibility in art practice: how, in the context of a negative set of circumstances (the currently debased character of public language in South Africa, and for that matter, globally) to create forms of representation that transfigure ‘nothingness’ into a vindication of the creativity of the human imagination? The pursuit and embodiment of such a paradox finds antecedence in the most influential art movement of the last 150 years: modernism (or, an aesthetics of modernity) and its ongoing adaptations: in my case, conceptual art and postmodernism. The contradictory nature of the practice, description and reflection is given philosophical and theoretical coherence in a two-part process: ‘deconstruction’ as a post-structural investigation of the hidden power relations of society, and a subsequent search beyond the anti-humanist theories of Derrida and other French poststructuralists, to a re-vindicated humanism; but a humanism no longer wedded to its classical beginnings as ‘universally’ detached from specific social demands. My practice, therefore, involves a pragmatic consideration: how might the artist be ‘relevant’ to activities of the society?
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of per sons-a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”
– Bernays E.L. 1928. Propoganda. p 8-10. New York. Horace Liveright.
“The culture industry misuses its concern for the masses in order to duplicate, reinforce and strengthen their mentality, which it presumes is given and unchangeable. How this mentality might be changed is excluded throughout. The masses are not the measure but the ideology of the culture industry, even though the culture industry itself could scarcely exist without adapting to the masses. The cultural commodities of the industry are governed, as Brecht and Suhrkamp expressed it thirty years ago, by the principle of their realization as value, and not by their own specific content and harmonious formation. The entire practice of the culture industry transfers the profit motive naked onto cultural forms. Ever since these cultural forms first began to earn a living for their creators as commodities in the market-place they had already possessed something of this quality.” – Theodor Adorno from “The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture” London: Routledge, 1991
“If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neo-corporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.” – Julian Assange
– Sheridan, Connor, “Foucault, Power and the Modern Panopticon”. Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2016. Trinity College Digital Repository, http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/548
work in progress: Dark Matter (Political Landscape 2017-)
“It isn’t a coincidence that governments everywhere want to educate children. Government education, in turn, is supposed to be evidence of the state’s goodness and its concern for our well-being. The real explanation is less flattering. If the government’s propaganda can take root as children grow up, those kids will be no threat to the state apparatus. They’ll fasten the chains to their own ankles.”
― Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
― Noam Chomsky
“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME.”
– Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1849)
Theodor Adorno argued that humans in modern society are programmed at work and in their leisure, and though they seek to escape the monotony of their workplace, they are merely changing to another piece of the machine – from producer to consumer. There is no chance of becoming free individuals who can take part in the creation of society, whether at work or play.
Leonard Cohen - The Night Comes On
We were fighting in Egypt
When they signed this agreement
That nobody else had to die
There was this terrible sound
And my father went down
With a terrible wound in his side
He said, Try to go on
Take my books, take my gun
Remember, my son, how they lied
And the night comes on
It’s very calm
I’d like to pretend that my father was wrong
But you don’t want to lie, not to the young
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave them kids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
“Things are not always what they seem; first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
“It should not really be surprising that modern artists are fascinated with nothing. It is a very human attribute to be beguiled by what we do NOT have, often more than what we do have. In the world of exploration, nothing would be the ulimate unknown area: across the frontier from where we are to where we and everything else disappears. To where we cannot be.”
– Ronald Green, Nothing Matters