It is sweeter to wander with the wretched and outcasts than to sit crowned with roses at the banquets of the rich
Elisee Reclus

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

As Long As Voyeurs In The Black Night Substitute Themselves For Seers..

'These remarks are addressed to those who do not know that in art there is no great expedition which is not undertaken at the risk of one's life; that the road to be followed is obviously not the one flanked by guard rails...I declare myself for the minority which is ceaselessly renewable and which acts as a lever. My greatest ambition is to insure the continuation after me of the theoretical significance of this minority'
Andre Breton, Prolegomena to a Third Manifesto of Surrealism or Else (1942)

If we are going to have to deal with proclamations then I prefer the lowly no-sense scream of punk or the echoing rightious silence of dub to any latterday manifesto, artistic, political or otherwise.
Despite the past and it's glorious but lingering manifestos, there is now only one manifesto and we live inside of it. It's a reality that's lived in the super extreme. A one reality made explicitly manifest and total by its lack of edges. It's a manifesto written for or by the already persuaded. In this realm, with one of our concern being to create ourselves out of here and towards freedom, there comes back fast at us, the Reality Manifesto. Two examples -

For the pure thrill of Being, I ran into the Diesal Wall on the old WWW. It's a marketing project of the clothes brand essentially bunging up people's submitted creations onto large walls that they have commandeered for their public advert. The first was in Madrid, the second in Berlin. The third no doubt will be in Coventry. Accompanying the Diesel Wall is, of course, 'The Manifesto', of which samples follow here:

'To bring contemporary art to your fellow citizens'
'To locate a vibrant artistic presence that represents the Zeitgeist'
'To fit current modes of visual expression to the medium of a show'
Et cetera...

This mode of expression has been being explored for rather a long time now. It's called grafitti (Zeus is a cunt etc). My favourite of these sentences, created quite randumbly by the project managers through a liberal sprinking of sexy words from the Box of Now onto the blank pages of fashion magazines, is -

'To present art as a new visual entertainment'

This seems to sum up the present state of art and it's discontents. My main theme here then is that what used to be some kind contradictory activity, whether learnt in the art school or in the school yard, now appears only to function as a bright and shiny this-day's-thing in the previously defined Manifesto as Reality. It's all entertaining isn't it? What was possibly a liberation or shock to the system, has passed away into living dead culture as mould left on our hands and faces. This art-as-thing, as culture before it's even cultured, as 'ART; just so you know it is, is truly miserable.

Coming across my path, but you can find such printed matter on your own by going, for example, to The Pineal Eye, Broadwick St, London (and I use this example correspondingly), are tens of free or paid-for magazines filled with urban and street-innovated art as adverts. These rotting mega-adverts are empty of anything that doesn't have a price label attached to it. Each article is about some product or another. If the thing is not itself the star, then someone's memories of good times, someone's emotional response to good music, someone's bad time will only really be a slight of hand advert for more things. Compulsively I pick them up and my hands mildew slightly. I pick them up because I'm attracted to the visual, for what's erotic and seductive about photography and design as it tries to represent the life around us. I pick them up because they are free. I pick them up to revolt myself. I pick them up to learn something...about where I am and how we are living (and maybe to see or feel how we might be living). I pick them up because I can't escape the notion of cool and how I might be cool via association with something I found out here or by the type of clothes I might wear. Always the utopian trace inherent in creative practice tries to escape the confines of the magazines: that life could be erotic and seductive in its own image. That we have a shared visual (common)sense of being. That the basis of 'cool' could be (but rarely is in this context) an understanding that the outsider prevails, that we will win.

My own (or only) fatal strategy for dealing with this magazines is to suspend them in my house with my own grafitti writ large. This, I have found is incredibly satisfying. Satisfying in the sense of trying to turn around the creative acts that made up the journal but more so because, like the best grafitti, there's a sense of madness contained in the act. It's scrawl, often doggeral from fragments of my life and mind/body. On the pictured occasion, I sutured the sides as a wise precaution, just to keep it all in isolation, just in case.This is just my scream. It is not a Manifesto

Cass Arts, a business in the business of selling art materials, are running a promotion right now called 'The Manifesto'. The bottom line for Cass is that 'art is freedom' especially if we buy our paintbrushes from them. The Cass Manifesto screams 'Let's fill this town with artists!'. Here, I get to indulge my two favourite quotes that I endlessly repeat. Both come from misanthropic but almost-Utopian writers and reveal, despite the far above, my long-suffering disdain for artists.

'People are so bored that artists have been posted at every corner as a precaution'
Louis-Ferdinand Celine

'Arty types: no principles!'
William Burroughs

This seems to sum up well the devilish pact that is entertained by the 'voyeurs' of Rwanda, Fallujah, Jenin, New Orleans - graphic designers, artists and photographers in the production of these moudy magazines, each one not even bumping up against a guard rail. It's all smooth. It also seems to sum up well the Manifesto of Reality that passes for creative acts in London Town. Having recently seen so much NOTHING, so many INVISIBLE yet present art works in galleries, I wonder what is going on towards our Exodus. Let's face it, the most powerful manifesto we can offer contains one statement - Not that capitalism isn't very nice but that CAPITALISM IS BORING. Can we not risk our lives as simply or as dangerously we might risk one kiss? Once again, it feels like this...

'We have come full circle. But backwards? The line between the end beginning and the beginning of the end has inverted and I proceed backwards from there to here and now and then. Or is it the other way around?'
Oliver Payne and Nick Relph, Gentlemen (2003)

Art has to be blag and there is a difference between blagging and begging.

1 comment:

RUINIST said...

Bad day! Moralistic?
Coming soon - consciousness, the plague of the 21st Century. Unconsciousness, the mould of the times...