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Art and Contemporary Critical PracticeReinventing Institutional Critique Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray (eds) may fly
Art and Contemporary Critical Practice Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray (eds)Institutional critique is best known through the critical practice that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by artists who presented radical challenges to the museum and gallery system. Since then it has been pushed in new directions by new generations of artists registering and responding to the global transformations of contemporary life. The essays collected in this volume explore this legacy and develop the models of institutional critique in ways that go well beyond the eld of art. Interrogating the shifting relations between institutions and critique, the contributors to this volume analyze the past and present of institutional critique and propose lines of future development. Engaging with the work of philosophers and political theorists such as Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno and others, these essays re ect on the mutual enrichments between critical art practices and social movements and elaborate the conditions for politicized critical practice in the twenty rst century. may fly www.may ybooks.org
Today, at one and the same time, sc holarly publishing is drawn in two directions. On the one hand, this is a time of the most exciting theoretical, political and artistic pr ojects that respond to and seek to move beyond global administered society. On the other hand, the publishing industries are vying for total control of the ever-lucrative arena of scholarly publication, creati ng a situation in which the means of distribution of books grounded in re search and in radical interrogation of the present are increasingly restri cted. In this context, MayFlyBooks has been established as an independent publishing house, publishing political, theoretical and aesthetic works on the question of organization. MayFlyBooks publications are published under Creative Commons license free online and in paperback. MayFlyBooks is a notfor-profit operation that publishes books that matter, not because they reinforce or reassure any existing market. 1. Herbert Marcuse, Negations: Essays in Critical Theory 2. Dag Aasland, Ethics and Economy: After Levinas 3. Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray (eds), Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing Institutional Critique
ART AND CONTEMPORARY CRITICAL PRACTICE
Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing Institutional Critique Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray (eds)
First published by MayFlyBooks in paperback in London and free online at www.mayflybooks.org in 2009. CC: The editors & authors 2009 ISBN (Print) 978-1-906948-02-3 ISBN (PDF) 978-1-906948-03-0 This work has been published in conjunction with the European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies (www.eipcp.net). The publication has been carried out within the framework of transform.eipcp.net and with the support of the Culture 2000 program of the European Union. It reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org /licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Contents Contributors vii Acknowledgments xi Preface xiii WHAT IS INSTITUTIONAL CRITIQUE? 1 Instituent Practices: Fleeing, Instituting, Transforming 3 Gerald Raunig 2 The Institution of Critique 13 Hito Steyerl 3 Anti-Canonization: The Different ial Knowledge of Institutional Critique 21 Stefan Nowotny 4 Notes on Institutional Critique 29 Simon Sheikh 5 Criticism without Crisis: Crisis without Criticism 33 Boris Buden 6 Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique 43 Jens Kastner 7 Extradisciplinary Investigations: Towards a New Critique of Institutions 53 Brian Holmes 8 Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 63 Rosalyn Deutsche 9 Toward a Critical Art Theory 79 Gene Ray
INSTITUTIONS OF EXODUS 10 Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 95 Paolo Virno 11 What is Critique? Suspension and Re-Composition in Textual and Social Machines 113 Gerald Raunig 12 Attempt to Think the Plebeian: Exodus and Constituting as Critique 131 Isabell Lorey 13 Inside and Outside the Art Instit ution: Self-Valori zation and Montage in Contemporary Art 141 Marcelo Expsito 14 The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism: Perspectives on a Possible Future 155 Nina Mntmann 15 The Political Form of Coordination 161 Maurizio Lazzarato INSTITUENT PRACTICES AND MONSTER INSTITUTIONS 16 Instituent Practices, No. 2: Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting 173 Gerald Raunig 17 Governmentality and Self-Precarization: On the Normalization of Cultural Producers 187 Isabell Lorey 18 To Embody Critique: Some Theses, Some Examples 203 Marina Garcs 19 The Double Meaning of Destitution 211 Stefan Nowotny 20 Towards New Political Creations: Movements, Institutions, New Militancy 223 Ral Snchez Cedillo 21 Mental Prototypes and Monster In stitutions: Some Notes by Way of an Introduction 237 Universidad Nmada Bibliography 247 The Transform Project issues of transversal 261
v i i Contributors Boris Buden is a philosopher living in Berlin. In the 1990s he was editor of the magazine Arkzin, Zagreb. Among his translations into Serbocroatian are two books of Sigmund Freud. Buden is the author of Barikade (Zagreb 1996/1997), Kaptolski Kolodvor (Beograd 2001), Der Schacht von Babel (Berlin 2004; Vavilonska jama Beograd 2007) and, together with Stefan Nowotny, bersetzung. Das Versprechen eines Begriffs (Turia + Kant 2008). Rosalyn Deutsche is a critic and art historian living in New York. She teaches modern and contemporary art, feminist theory and urban theory at Barnard College, Columbia Univer sity. Her publications include the influential book Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics (MIT Press, 1998). Marcelo Expsito is an artist mostly based in Barcelona. He was cofounder and co-editor of Brumaria magazine (2002-2006). He teaches video theory and history at Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (Cuenca), art theory at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), and art and politics at Independent Studies Programm (PEI) at Macba (Barcelona). Marina Garcs is professor for contemporary philosophy at the University Oberta de Catalunya and at the University of Zaragoza. She is author of the book In the prisons of the possible (Ediciones Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2002) and she collaborates with such magazines as Archipilago, Zeha r o Le passant ordinaire and with institutions such as Arteleku (San Sebastin) o Unia-Arte y pensamiento (Sevilla). Since
Contributors v iii 2003 she co-ordinates the activity of Espai en Blanc (http://www.espaienblanc.net). Brian Holmes is a culture critic who works directly with artist and activist groups. He publishes in Springerin Brumaria and Multitudes and is the author of the books Hieroglyphs of the Future (Arkzin/WHW, 2002) and Unleashing the Collective Phantoms (Autonomedia, 2008). Jens Kastner is a sociologist and art hist orian working at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vie nna. He is editor of Bildpunkt: Zeitschrift der IG Bildende Kunst His recent books are Transnationale Guerilla: Aktivismus, Kunst und die kommende Gemeinschaft (Unrast, 2007) and, together with Bettina Sprr, nicht alles tun (Unrast, 2008). Maurizio Lazzarato is a sociologist, philosopher and independent researcher specializing in studies of relationships of work, economy and society. He is a member of the editorial team of Multitudes His latest publications include Les rvolutions du capitalisme (Les empcheurs de penser en rond, 2004) and, together with Antonella Corsani, Intermittents et Prcaires (ditions Amsterdam, 2008). Isabell Lorey is a political scientist living in Berlin. From 2001 to 2007 she was assistant professor for Gend er & Postcolonial Studies at the University of the Arts Berlin and lecturer at the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at the Humboldt University Berlin. She has published on feminist and polit ical theory, with special focus on Michel Foucault, biopolitical govern mentality and critical whiteness studies. She is currently working on a book about Roman struggles of order, concepts of commu nity and immunization. Nina Mntmann is Professor and Head of the Department of Art Theory and the History of Ideas at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. From 2003 to 2006 she was Curator at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA) in Helsinki. Currently she is curatorial advisor for Manifesta 7, 2008. She is a correspondent for Artforum and contributes to Le Monde Diplomatique Parachute metropolis m Frieze and others. Her recent publications include Kunst als sozialer Raum Kln (Walther Knig, 2002); Art and its Institutions (Black Dog Publishing, 2006).
Contributors ix Stefan Nowotny is a philosopher living in Vienna. He works at the eipcp and has published various essays on philosophical and political topics, co-edited several anthologies, and translated texts from both French and English into German. His recent books include: Instituierende Praxen. Bruchlinien der Institutionskritik (together with Gerald Raunig, Turia + Kant 2008); bersetzung. Das Versprechen eines Begriffs (together with Boris Buden, Turia + Kant 2008). Gerald Raunig is a philosopher and art theorist living in Vienna. He works at the eipcp and is co-founder of the magazine Kulturrisse and the multilingual web journal transversal Raunig is the author of Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century (Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2007) and A Thousand Machines (Semiotext(e)/MIT Press, 2009, forthcoming). Gene Ray is a critic and theorist livin g in Berlin. A member of the Radical Culture Research Collective (RCRC), he writes frequently for the journals Third Text and Left Curve. He is the author of Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and editor of Joseph Beuys: Mapping the Legacy (DAP, 2001). Whither Tactical Media?, a special issue of Third Text co-edited with Gregory Sholette, has been published in Fall 2008. Ral Snchez Cedillo is a writer and translator living in Madrid. Since 1991 he has been collaborating with the post-operaist research and political networks, and has edited a number of works by Antonio Negri, Flix Guattari and others. Politically, he was active in the antimilitarist and Insumisin movement during the 1990s, later in the okupacin and Centros Sociales Okupados moveme nts and the first cyberactivism network in Spain, www.sindominio.n et. Since 2000 hes been promoting new self-educational and political projects, mainly the Madrid based Universidad Nmada. Simon Sheikh is a curator and critic living in Berlin and Copenhagen. He is an Assistant Professor of Ar t Theory and a Coordinator of the Critical Studies Program, Malm Art Academy in Sweden. He was director of Overgaden Institute for Contemporary Art in Copenhagen from 1999 to 2002, and was Curator at NIFCA, Helsinki, from 2003 to 2004. Editor of the magazine jeblikket (1996-2000), and a member of the project group GLOBE (1993-2000). His recent publications include
Contributors x the anthologies We are all Normal (with Katya Sander) (Black Dog Publishing, 2001), In the Place of the Public Sphere? (b_books, 2005) and Capital (It Fails Us Now) (b_books, 2006). Hito Steyerl works as a filmmaker, video ar tist and author in the area of essayist documentary film and pos tcolonial criticism. A producer as well as theorist, her films have received international awards and are screened on TV in many countries. She is Visiting Professor for Experimental Media Crea tion at Universitt der Knste, Berlin. Her recent book is Die Farbe der Wahrheit (Turia + Kant, 2008). Universidad Nmada http://www.universidadnomada.net/ Paolo Virno is a philosopher who lives in Rome and teaches at the University of Calabria. He was politically active as a member of the Italian political group Potere Operaio during the 1970s, for which he was imprisoned for three years before being acquitted. He is the author of Convenzione e materialismo (1986), Mondanit (1994), Parole con parole (1995), Il ricordo del presente: Saggio sul tempo storico (1999), Grammatica della moltitudine (2001; in English as A Grammar of the Multitude 2004), Esercizi di esodo (2002), Quando il verbo si fa carne: Linguaggio e natura umana (2003), Motto di spirito e azione innovativa (2005). He is contributor of the philosophical review Forme di vita
xi Acknowledgments Many warm thanks to the following friends, participants and supporters of the Transform project: Andrea Hummer Bernhard Hummer Birgit Mennel Raimund Minichbauer Stefan Nowotny Boris Buden Aileen Derieg Marcelo Expsito Therese Kaufmann Isabell Lorey Monika Mokre Andrea Salzmann Simon Sheikh Hito Steyerl Brian Holmes Imre Szeman Charles Esche Solvita Krese Jorge Ribalta Stella Rollig Ulf Wuggenig Wolfie Christl Ralf Traunsteiner MayFlyBooks All partners in the project Transform All transversal authors and translators
xiii Preface The essays collected in this volume were selected from Transform, a three-year (2005-8) research project of the European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies (eipcp). Following up on the eipcps previous Republicart project (2002-5), Transform supported a wide range of activities, research and exchanges focused on investigating political and artistic practices of i nstitutional critique. These included exhibitions, conferences and the publication of the web journal transversal in which all of the follo wing essays appeared. For the Transform project, artists, activists, writers, theorists and researchers were encouraged to inte rrogate the history of the relations between institutions and critique and to consider the present and future possibilities for th e theory and practice of institutional critique along three related but still distinct lines of inquiry. These lines were sketched as follows at the beginning of the project, in the summer of 2005: 1. The line of art production. The thesis here is that following the two phases of institutional critique in the 1970s and 1990s, now a new phase of critique is emergi ng, which goes beyond the two earlier phases, particularly as a combination of social critique, institutional critique and self-critique. 2. The line of art institutions. Here questions will be raised about the development of radical positions take n by critical art institutions, not only against the background that open, socially critical art associations, museums and initiatives are increasingly under pressure, partly from authoritarian repressive cultural policies, partly
Art and Contemporary Critical Practice xi v from neo-liberal populist cultural policies. Beyond this defensive figure and the question of counter-strategies, new forms of the organization of critical art instit utions are to be reflected on. 3. The line of the relationship of institution and critique as movement: at this most general level the question of the mutual interrelationship of institution an d movement, machines and state apparatuses, is to be addressed, and how this relationship can be made productive in the sense of emancipatory policies and beyond the abrupt demarcation between the two poles. From the beginning of the Transf orm project, it was clear that institutional critique has long been an established stream of artistic practices with, now, well over three decades of history and development behind it. From its now almost mythic al origins, this stream has given rise to transversal practices that cannot be classified as purely or exclusively artistic. The instituti onal critique of the 1960s and 70s formed a loose, barely coherent nexus that can only be understood within the context of micro and ma cro-political developments before and around 1968. Accordingly, the Transform project has oscillated over the last three years between the three lines sketched at the outset and the fields and practices from which they can hardly be separated. At the same time, a movement became di scernible even if not a rigidly linear one from the major concerns of the first to the second and finally the third line of inquiry. I. What is Institutional Critique? The timeliness of the project quickly became apparent. Although it was conceived in 2004, its concrete begi nnings in September 2005 coincided with a wave of renewed interest in institutional critique within the field of art itself an interest confirmed by a series of symposia, publications and themed issues of art journals and magazines. These debates, which included diverse perspectives on the genealogy of institutional critique and on the operations of its canonization, are fully reflected in the first of twelve Transform issues of the web journal transversal under the title Do You Remember Institutional Cr itique? (January 2006). What appears in retrospect as the first wave of institutional critique was initiated in the 1960s and 70s by artists such as Michael Asher, Robert Smithson, Daniel Buren, Hans Haac ke and Marcel Broodthaers, among
Preface x v others. They investigated the conditi ons of the museum and art field, aiming to oppose, subvert or br eak out of rigid institutional frameworks. In the late 1980s and 90s, in a changed context, these practices were developed into di verse artistic projects by new protagonists like Renee Green, Chri stian Philipp Mller, Fred Wilson and Andrea Fraser. To the economic and political discourse of their predecessors, the practices of this second generation added a growing awareness of the forms of subjectivity and the modes of its formation. Second wave practices continued however to circulate under the name of institutional critique. The process by which these first tw o waves of institutional critique have become a recognized part of art history was not without controversy and debate. Still, th e canonization of these practices proceeds on a terrain that is quite orderly, operates by clear rules and borders, and is characterized by a cer tain amount of depoliticization and self-reference. However, our thesis concerning a third phase of institutional critique provoked so me very different interpretations among the participants of the Tran sform project. Some of the authors in this book focus on art institutions themselves, insofar as these are emerging as the new and paradoxical agents of institutional critique. Others seek to analyze the extradi sciplinary investigations undertaken by contemporary artist-activists and to reflect on what some see as a new artistic internationalism developi ng in conjunction with political activism. And while the attention of the mainstream art world has moved on from the debates about institutional critique, the question of the character of, what we have ca lled, instituent practices remains especially relevant for the actors in the overlapping fields of art and politics. Without over-determining th e concept of instituent practices, we can say that it refers to strategies and initiated processes that in some respects take their bearings from tradit ions of institutional critique, even as in other respects they go beyond anything recognizable in the movement now canonized as part of ar t history. As the texts in this volume show, this tendency towards new activist and instituent practices is one direction in which pr actitioners and theorists are actively attempting to renew and reinvent institutional critique under difficult contemporary conditions.
Art and Contemporary Critical Practice xvi II. Institutions of Exodus The second line of inquiry inescapably had to pass through a reflection on the pressure of economic and admi nistrative logics bearing down on all institutions in the cultural field, including those with which the eipcp has collaborated in realizing the Transform project. The eipcps own position as project institution with in the paradoxes of a relative and critical autonomy created a self-reflexive debate on the future of critical institutions as such. In fact, the very idea of a project institution is glaringly contradictory. For if the concept of institution implies a desire for long-term duration, continuity an d security, the concept of project by contrast implies limited duration and the negative effects, such as precarization and insecurity, associated with it. Accordingly, one issue of transversal took on the tasks of reflecting on the conditions that make critical institutions possible and of seeking to specify the modes of action for politicizing these conditions, fractures and contradictions under the title Progressive Institutions (April 2007). The questions that begin to emerge at this point are of course not limited to institutions of the cultural field: they concern the conditions for critical and resistant institutions generally. Various recent approaches in philosophy and political theory, including those advanced by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, among others, as well as by some authors in the present volume, have undertaken to develop a non-dialectical concept of resistance and critique, one seeking above all to establish a different conceptualization of contradict ion, negation and reaction. The proposals for this conceptual deve lopment extend from the various figures of flight (nomadism, desert ion, destitution, withdrawal and treason) to differing concepts of exodus. As thought by the authors in this volume, exodus is not a nave exit out of every kind of institution, but refers rather to the deliberations and actualizations of institutions of exodus. III. Instituent Practices and Monster Institutions Over the course of the project, th e third line of inquiry brought the relations between social movement s and their institutions to the foreground. In play here are the ma rked degradation of representative democracy in Europe, the frustrat ions and processes of internal transformation to be seen in the al ter-globalization movement following September 11 and the so-called war on terror, as well as increasing
Preface xvii social marginalization and misery seen by many as an effect of national and transnational institutions. In any case, the third line helped to clarify as a concrete question the problem that became central to the debates generated by the project: which form of institutions and instituting do contemporary social movements need? For answers to questions of this kind, two concepts became most important for the project: instituent practices and monster institutions. Deriving from Ant onio Negris concept of constituent power, understood as a permanent process of con stitution, in stituent practices thwart the logics of instit utionalization; they invent new forms of instituting and continuously link th ese instituting events. Against this background, the concept of instituent practices marks the site of a productive tension between a new articulation of critique and the attempt to arrive at a notion of instituting after traditional understandings of institutions have begun to break down and mutate. When we speak of an instituent practi ce, this actualization of the future in a present becoming is not the oppos ite of institution in the way that utopia, for instance, is the opposite of bad reality. Nor is it to be understood simply in the way that Antonio Negris concept pair constituent power/constituted power is conceptualized, necessarily in relation to being instituted or c onstituted power. Rather, instituent practice as a process and concatenation of instituent events means an absolute concept exceeding mere opposit ion to institutions: it does not oppose the institution, but it does flee from institutionalization and structuralization. But while fleeing, instituent practice searches for a weapon. Introducing monsters into existing institutions, it gives birth to new forms of institutions, monster institut ions. Deliberations of such a kind led, by the end of the project, to a collaboration with the Spanish Universidad Nmada on an issue of transversal entitled Monster Institutions (May 2008). The essays in it reflect on the possibilities for new forms of institutionality in conj unction with soci al movements and with a clear focus on the new generation of social centers in Europe. From this perspective it is also possible to reverse the movement described above: the transversal quality of artistic institutional critique does not only challenge and thwart th e borders of the field of art; the strategies and specific competencies of art can also be deployed to spur on a general reflection on the problems of institutions, the predicaments of critique and the openings fo r new instituent practices.
I WHAT IS INSTITUTIONAL CRITIQUE?
3 1 Instituent Practices: Fleeing, Instituting, Transforming* Gerald Raunig (Translated by Aileen Derieg) When we propose in the announcemen t of our Transform project the provisional thesis that a new phase of institutional critique will now emerge,1 following the two previous phases the first beginning in the late 1960s, the second in the late 1980s this thesis is based less on empirical evidence than on a political and theoretical necessity to be found in the logic of institutional crit ique itself. Both phases of this now-canonized practice developed their own strategies and methods within their respective contexts. Th e resemblances between them are deep and go beyond even what the categories of art history and criticism would suggest. At the same time, there are clear divergences grounded in the differing social an d political conditions within which each emerged. Things have changed tremendously since Michael Asher, Robert Smithson, Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke, Marcel Broodthaers and others initiated what appears in retrospect as the first wave of institutional critique. In the late 1980s and 90s, in a changed context, these practices developed into diverse artistic projects that continued to circulate under the same name. Now, if institutional critique is not to be fixed and paralyzed as something established in the field of art and remaining constrained by its rules, th en it must continue to change and develop in a changing society. It must link up with other forms of critique both within and outside th e art field whether these forms emerged in opposition to existing cond itions or were the resistance that provoked those conditions in the first place.2 Against the background of this kind of transversal exchange among forms of critique but also without naively imagining spaces somehow free from domination and
Gerald Raunig 4 institutions institutional critique needs to be rethought as a critical attitude and as what I call an instituent practice. In his 1978 lecture What is Critique ? Michel Foucault describes the spread and replication of governmentality in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, claiming that along with this governmentalization of all possible areas of life and finally of the self, critique also developed as the art not to be governed like that Even without going into more depth here on the continuities and breaks between the historical forms of developing liberal governmentality an d the current forms of neo-liberal governmentality (see Isabell Loreys e ssay in the third section of this volume), it may be said that the relationship between government and not to be governed like that is still a prerequisite today for reflecting on the contemporary relationship between institution and critique. In Foucaults words: [T]his governmentalization, which seems to me to be rather characteristic of these societies in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, cannot apparently be dissoci ated from the question how not be governed? I do not mean by that that governmentalization would be opposed in a kind of face-off by the opposite affirmation, we do not want to be governed, and we do not want to be governed at all . I mean that, in this great preoccupation abou t the way to govern and the search for the ways to govern, we identify a perpetual question which could be: how not be governed like that by that, in the name of those principles, with such and such an objective in mind and by means of such procedures, not like that, not for that, not by them. (Foucault, 1997a: 28) Here Foucault insists on the shif t from a fundamental negation of government toward a maneuver to av oid this kind of dualism: from not to be governed at all to not to be governed like that from a phantom battle for a big other to a constant struggle in the pl ane of immanence, which as I would like to add is not (solely) actualized as a fundamental critique of institutions, but rather as a permanen t process of instituting. Foucault continues: And if we accord this movement of governmentalization of both society and individuals the historic dimens ion and breadth which I believe it has had, it seems that one could approximately locate therein what we could call the critical attitude. Facing them head on and as compensation, or rather, as both partner and adversary to the arts of
Instituent Practices 5 governing, as an act of defiance, as a challenge, as a way of limiting these arts of governing and sizing them up, transforming them, of finding a way to escape from them or, in any case, a way to displace them. (Foucault, 1997a: 28) These latter categories are the ones I want to focus on in terms of the transformation and further development of the question of contemporary forms of institutional cr itique: transformations as ways of escaping from the arts of governing, lines of flight, which are not at all to be taken as harmless or individualis tic or escapist and esoteric, even if they no longer allow dreaming of an entirely different exteriority. Nothing is more active than a flight! as Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet write (2002: 36) and as Pa olo Virno echoes almost literally: Nothing is less passive than the act of fleeing, of exiting (2004a: 70). If the arts of governing mean an intertwining of governing and being governed, government an d self-government, then transforming the arts of governing does not consist simply of any arbitrary transformation processes in the most general sense, because transformations are an essential aspect of the context of governmentality itself. It is more a matter of specifically emancipatory transformations, and this also rescinds a central aspect of the old institutional critique. Through th eir emancipatory character these transformations also assume a transver sal quality, i.e. their effects extend beyond the bounds of particular fields. In contrast to these kinds of emancipatory transversal transformations of the arts of gove rning, there is a recurring problem in art discourse: that of reducing and enclosing more general questions in ones own field. Even though (s elf-)canonizations, valorizations and depreciations in the art field as well as in debates on institutional critique practices are often ador ned with an eclectic, disparate and contradictory selection of theory im ports, these imports frequently only have the function of disposing of speci fic art positions or the art field. A contemporary variation of this func tionalization consists of combining poststructuralist immanence theories with a simplification of Pierre Bourdieus field theory. The theori es that argue, on the one hand, against an outside in the sense of Christian or socialist transcendence, for instance, and, on the other, for th e relative autonomy of the art field, are blurred here into the defeatist statement, We are trapped in our field (Fraser, 2005). Even the critic al actors of the second generation
Gerald Raunig 6 of institutional critique do not appe ar to be free from these kinds of closure phantasms. Fraser, for instance, conducts an offensive selfhistoricization in her essay From th e Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique, published in Artforum in 2005. In her account, all possible forms of institutional critique are ultimately limited to a critique of the institution of art (Brge r, 1984) and its sub-institutions. Invoking Bourdieu, she writes: [J]ust as art cannot exist outside the field of art, we cannot exist outside the field of art, at least not as artist s, critics, curators, etc. And what we do outside the field, to the extent that it remains outside, can have no effect within it. So if there is no outside for us, it is not because the institution is perfectly closed, or exists as an apparatus in a totally administered society, or has grown all-encompassing in size and scope. It is because the institution is inside of us, and we cant get outside of ourselves. (Fraser, 2005: 282) Although there seems to be an echo of Foucaults concept of selfgovernment here, there is no indicati on of forms of escaping, shifting, transforming. Whereas for Foucault the critical attitude appears simultaneously as partner and as a dversary of the arts of governing, the second part of this specific ambivalence vanishes in Frasers account, yielding to a discursive self-limitation that barely permits reflection on ones own enclosure. Against all the evidence that art and not only critical art over th e whole twentieth century produced effects that went beyond the restricted field of art, she plays a worn-out record: art is and remains autonomous, its function limited to its own field. With each attempt to evade the limits of institutional determination, to embrace an outside, we expand our frame and bring more of the world into it. But we never escape it (Fraser, 2005: 282). Yet exactly this kind of constriction is refused in Foucaults concept of critique, the critical attitude: in stead of inducing the closure of the field with theoretical arguments and promoting this practically, thus carrying out the art of governing, a different form of art should be pushed at the same time which leads to escaping the arts of governing And Foucault is not the only one to in troduce these new non-escapist terms of escape. Figures of flight, of dropping out, of betrayal, of desertion, of exodus: these are the figures that several authors advance as poststructuralist, non-dialectical forms of resistance in refusal of cynical or conservative invocations of inescapability and hopelessness. With these
Instituent Practices 7 kinds of concepts Gilles Deleuze, Paolo Virno and others attempt to propose new models of non-representati onist politics that can be turned equally against Leninist concepts of revolution aimed at taking over the state and against radical anarchist positions imagining an absolute outside of institutions, as well as against concepts of transformation and transition in the sense of a successi ve homogenization in the direction of neo-liberal globalization. In terms of their new concept of resistance, the aim is to thwart a dialectical id ea of power and resistance: a positive form of dropping out, a flight that is simultaneously an instituent practice. Instead of presupposing conditions of domination as an immutable horizon and yet fighting agai nst them, this flight changes the conditions under which the presuppos ition takes place. As Paolo Virno writes in The Grammar of the Multitude exodus transforms the context within which a problem has arisen, ra ther than facing this problem by opting for one or the other of the provided alternatives (Virno, 2004a: 70). When figures of flight are imported into the art field, this often leads to the misunderstanding that it in volves the subjects personal retreat from the noise and babble of the wo rld. Protagonists such as Herman Melvilles Bartleby in Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben or the virtuoso pianist Glenn Gould in Virno are seen as personifications of individual resistance and in the case of Bartleby of individual withdrawal. In a conservative process of pilferage and reinterpretation, in critical art discourse these figures are displaced so far from their starting point that flight no longer implies, as it does with Deleuze, fleeing to look for a weapon. On the contrary, here the old images of retreat into an artist hermitage are rehashed, which are not only deployed by the new circles of cultural pessimism against participative and relational spectacle art, but also against collective interventionist, activist or other experimental strategies. For example, when Texte zur Kunst editor Isabelle Graw turns to the model of the preoccupied painter working away in his studio, refusing to give any explanation, ostentatiously not networking, never travelling, hardly showing himself in public, it is allegedly to prevent the principle of the spectacle from directly accessing his mental and emotional competencies (Graw, 2005: 46). Although Graw refers to Paolo Vi rno directly before the passage quoted, neither Virnos problematization of the culture industry nor his concept of exodus tends toward these kinds of bourgeois expectations of salvation by the artist-individua l. With the image of the solitary
Gerald Raunig 8 painter, who eludes the new tenden cy in capitalism to take over the whole person (Graw, 2005: 47) by obstinately withdrawing his person, Graw links a contemporary analysis with an ultra-conservative result. Even after the countless spectacular utilizations of this stereotype, it appears that the same old artist im age contrary to Virnos ideas of virtuosity can today still or once again be celebrated as antispectacular. What the poststructuralist proposals for dropping out and withdrawal involve, however, is anythi ng but this kind of relapse into the celebration of an individual turnin g away from society. The point is to thwart dichotomies such as that of the individual and the collective, to offensively theorize new forms of what is common and singular at the same time. Paolo Virno in particul ar has lucidly developed this idea in A Grammar of the Multitude Alluding to Karl Marxs notion of the general intellect from the Grundrisse Virno posits the notion of a public intellect. Following Marx, inte llect is not to be understood here as a competence of an individual, but rather as a shared link and constantly developing foundation for individuation. Th us Virno neither alludes to media intellectuals in the society of the spectacle, nor to the lofty ideas of the autonomous thin ker or painter. That kind of individualized publicity corresponds more to Virnos negative concept of publicness without a public sphere: The general intellect or public intellect, if it does not become a republic a public sphere, a political community, drastically increases forms of submission (Virno, 2004a: 41). Virno focuses, on the other hand, on the social quality of the intellect.3 Whereas the alienated thinker (or even painter) is traditionally drawn as an individual withdrawing from idle talk, from the noise of the masses, for Virno the noise of the mult itude is itself the site of a nonstate, non-spectacular, non-represent ationist public sphere. This nonstate public sphere is not to be understood as an anarchic place of absolute freedom, as an open field b eyond the realm of the institution. Flight and exodus are nothing nega tive, not a reaction to something else, but are instead linked and intertwined with constituent power, reorganizing, re-inventing and institut ing. The movement of flight also preserves these instituent practices from structuralization and closure from the start, preventing them from becoming institutions in the sense of constituted power.
Instituent Practices 9 What does this mean in relation to the artistic practices of institutional critique? From a sch ematic perspective, the first generation of institutional critique sought a distance from the institution; the second addressed the inevitable involvement in the institution. I call this a schematic perspective, because these kinds of generation clusters are naturally blurred in the relevant practices, and there were attempts by Andrea Fraser, for instance to describe the first wave as being constituted by the second (including he rself) and also to attribute to the first phase a similar reflectedness on their own institutionality. Whether this is the case or not, an important and effective position can be attributed to both generations in the art field from the 1970s to the present, and in some cases relevan ce is evident that goes beyond the boundaries of the field. Yet the fu ndamental questions that Foucault already implicitly raised, which Deleuze certainly pursued in his book on Foucault, are not posed with the strategies of distanced and deconstructive intervention in the institution: do Foucaults considerations lead us to enclose ourselves more and more in power relations? And most of all, which lines of flight lead out of the dead end of this enclosure? To make use of Foucaults treatments of this problem for the question of new instituent practices , I would like to conclude this article by returning to the later Fo ucault, specifically to his Berkeley lecture series Discourse and Truth delivered in the autumn of 1983, and to the term parrhesia broadly explained there.4 In classical Greek, parrhesia means to say everything, freely speaking truth without rhetorical games an d without ambiguity, even and especially when this is hazardous. Foucault describes the practice of parrhesia using numerous examples from ancient Greek literature as a movement from a political to a pe rsonal technique. The older form of parrhesia corresponds to publicly speaking truth as an institutional right. Depending on the form of the state, the subject addressed by the parrhesiastes is the assembly in the democratic agora, the tyrant in the monarchical court.5 Parrhesia is generally understood as coming from below and directed upward, whether it is the philosophers criticism of the tyrant or the citizens criticism of the majority in the agora: the specific potentiality of parrhesia is found in the unequivocal gap between the one who takes a risk to express everything and the criticized sovereign who is impugned by this truth.
Gerald Raunig 10 Over the course of time, a change takes place in the game of truth which in the classical Greek conception of parrhesia was constituted by the fact that someone was courageous enough to tell the truth to other people [T]here is a shift from that kind of parrhesiastic game to another truth game which now consists in being courageous enough to disclose the truth about oneself (Foucault, 1997b: 150). This process from public criticism to personal (sel f-)criticism develops in parallel to the decrease in the significance of the democratic public sphere of the agora. At the same time, parrhesia comes up increasingly in conjunction with education. One of Foucaults relevant examples here is Platos dialogue Laches in which the question of the best teacher for the interlocutors sons represents the starting point and foil. The teacher Socrates no longer assumes the function of the parrhesiastes in the sense of exercising dangerous contradiction in a political sense, but rather by moving his listeners to give account of themselves and leading them to a self-questioning that queries the re lationship between their statements ( logos ) and their way of living ( bios ). However, this technique does not serve as an autobiographical confessi on or examination of conscience or as a prototype of Maoist self-cri ticism, but rather to establish a relationship between rational discourse and the lifestyle of the interlocutor or the self-questi oning person. Contrary to any individualistic interpretation especially of later Foucault texts (imputing a return to subject philosophy, etc.), here parrhesia is not the competency of a subject, but rather a movement between the position that queries the concordance of logos and bios and the position that exercises self-criticism in light of this query. In keeping with a productive interpretation for contemporary institutional critique practices, my aim here is to link the two concepts of parrhesia described by Foucault as a genealogical development, to understand hazardous refutation in its relation to self-revelation. Critique, and especially institutional critique, is not exhausted in denouncing abuses nor in withdrawing into more or less radical selfquestioning. In terms of the art field this means that neither the belligerent strategies of the instituti onal critique of the 1970s nor art as a service to the institution in the 1990s promise effective interventions in the governmentality of the present. What is needed here and now is parrhesia as a double strategy: as an attempt of involvement and engagement in a process of hazardous refutation, and as self-questioning What is needed, therefore, are
Instituent Practices 11 practices that conduct radical social criticism, yet which do not fancy themselves in an imagined distance to institutions; at the same time, practices that are self-critical and yet do not cling to their own involvement, their complicity, their im prisoned existence in the art field, their fixation on institutions and the institution, their own beinginstitution. Instituent practices that conjoin the advantages of both generations of institutional criti que, thus exercising both forms of parrhesia will impel a linking of social criticism, institutional critique and self-criticism. This link will develop, most of all, from the direct and indirect concatenation with political practices and social movements, but without dispensing with artistic competences and strategies, without dispensing with resources of and eff ects in the art field. Here exodus would not mean relocating to a differe nt country or a different field, but betraying the rules of the game thro ugh the act of flight: transforming the arts of governing not only in rela tion to the institutions of the art field or the institution art as the art field, but rather as participation in processes of instituting and in political practices that traverse the fields, the structures, the institutions. Notes The author thanks Isabell Lorey and Stefan Nowotny for critical remarks and advice. 1. The project announcement, first published online in 2005, is reprinted in revised format in the preface to this volume. 2. On the temporal and ontological priori ty of critique-resistance, see Deleuze: The final word of power is that resistance comes first (1988: 89, trans. modified). See also Raunig (2007: 48-54). 3. Klaus Neundlinger and I discuss the social character of intellect more fully in our introduction to the German edition of A Grammar of the Multitude (Virno, 2005: 9-21). 4. My ideas on Foucault and parrhesia were first developed for the eipcp conference Progressive Art Institutions in the Age of the Dissolving Welfare State, held in Vienna in 2004, and first published online (Raunig, 2004). 5. The oldest example of political parrhesia is the figure of Diogenes, who, precarious in his barrel, commands Alexander to move out of his light. Like the citizen expressing a minority opini on in the democratic setting of the agora, the cynic philosopher also practices a form of parrhesia with regard to the monarch in public.
13 2 The Institution of Critique Hito Steyerl In speaking about the critique of in stitutions, the problem we ought to consider is the opposite one: the institut ion of critique. Is there anything like an institution of critique and wh at does it mean? Isnt it pretty absurd to argue that something like this exists at a moment when critical cultural institutions are undoubtedly being dismantled, underfunded, subjected to the demands of a neo-liberal event economy and so on? However, I would like to pose the question on a much more fundamental level. The question is: what is the internal relationship between critique and institution? What sort of relation exists between the institution and its critique or on the other hand the institutionalization of critique? And what is the historical and political background for this relationship? To get a clearer picture of this re lationship we must first consider the function of criticism in general. On a very general level, certain political, social or individual subject s are formed through the critique of institutions. Bourgeois subjectivity as such was formed through such a process of critique, and encouraged to leave behind self-incurred immaturity, to quote Immanuel Kants famous definition of enlightenment (Kant, 2000: 54). This critical subjectivity was of course ambivalent, since it entailed the use of reason only in those situations we would consider as apolitical today, namely in the deliberation of abstract problems, but not the criticis m of authority. Critique produces a subject who should make use of reason in public circumstances, but not in private ones. While this soun ds emancipatory, the opposite is the case. The criticism of authority is a ccording to Kant futile and private.
Hito Steyerl 14 Freedom consists in accepting that authority should not be questioned. Thus, this form of criticism produces a very ambivalent and governable subject; it is as much a tool of governance as of that resistance with which it is often assumed to be aligned. But the bourgeois subjectivity formed thereby was very efficient. An d in a certain sense, institutional criticism is integrated into that su bjectivity, something which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explicitly refer to in their Communist Manifesto, namely as the capacity of the bourgeoisie to abolish and to melt down outdated institutions and everything el se that is useless and petrified, as long as the general form of aut hority itself isnt threatened. The bourgeois class had formed thro ugh a limited, so to speak, institutionalized critique and also maintained and reproduced itself through its continuous application. An d in this way critique had become an institution in itself, a government al tool that produces streamlined subjects. But there is also another form of subjectivity that is produced by criticism and also institutional criticism. An obvious example is the French citizen, a political subject of French formed through an institutional critique of the French monarchy. The latter institution was eventually abolished and even beheaded. In this process, an appeal was already realized that Marx was to launch much later: the weapons of critique should be replaced by the cr itique of weapons. In this vein one could say that the proletariat as a po litical subject was produced through the criticism of the bourgeoisie as an institution. This second form produces forms of subjectivity that probably are just as ambivalent, but with a crucial difference: it abolishe s the institution that it criticizes instead of reforming or improving it. So in this sense institutional critique serves as a tool of subjectivation of certain social grou ps or political subjects. And which sort of different subjects does it prod uce? Lets take a look at different modes of institutional critique within the artfield of the last decades. To simplify a complex development: the first wave of institutional criticism in the art sphere in the 1970s questioned the authoritarian role of the cultural institution. It challenged the authority that had accumulated in cultural institutions within the framework of the nation state. Cultural institutions such as museums had taken on a complex governmental function. This role has been brilliantly described by Benedict Anderson in his seminal work Imagined Communities where he
The Institution of Critique 15 analyzes the role of the museum in the formation of colonial nation states. In his view, the museum, in cr eating a national past, retroactively also created the origin and foundati on of the nation, and that was its main function (Anderson, 1983). But th is colonial situation, as in many other cases, points at the structure of the cultural institution within the nation state in general. And this situ ation, the authoritarian legitimation of the nation state by the cultural institution through the construction of a history, a patrimony, a heritage, a canon and so on, was the one that the first wave of institutional critique set out to criticize in the 1970s. Their justification in doing so was ultimately a political one. Most nation states considered themselves to be democracies founded on the political mandate of the people or citize ns. In that sense, it was easy to argue that any national cultural inst itution should reflect this selfdefinition and that any national cult ural institution should thus be founded on similar mechanisms. If the political national sphere was at least in theory based on democratic participation, why should the cultural national sphere and its cons truction of histories and canons be any different? Why shouldnt the cultural institution be at least as representative as parliamentary democracy? Why shouldnt it include for example women in its canon, if women were at least in theory accepted in parliament? In that sense the claims that the first wave of institutional critique voiced were of course founded in contemporary theories of the public sphere, and based on an interpretation of the cultural institution as a potential public sphere. But implicitly they relied on two fundamental assumptions. First, this public sphere was implicitly a national one because it was modeled after the model of representative parliamentarism. Institutional critique justified itself precisely on this point. Since the political system of th e nation state is at least in theory representative of its citizens, why s houldnt a national cultural institution be? And this analogy was more often than not grounded in material conditions, since most cultural instit utions were funded by the state. Thus, this form of institutional critique relied on a model based on the structure of political participation within the nation state and a Fordist economy, in which taxes could be collected for such purposes. Institutional critique of this period related to these phenomena in different ways. Either by radically negating institutions altogether, by trying to build alternative institutions or by trying to be included in mainstream ones. Just as in the political arena, the most effective strategy was a combination of the second and third model, which
Hito Steyerl 16 demanded for example that cultural institutions include minorities and disadvantaged majorities such as women. In this sense institutional critique functioned like the related paradigms of multiculturalism, reformist feminism, ecological move ments and so on. It was a new social movement within the arts scene. But during the next wave of institutional criticism in the 1990s, the situation was somewhat different. It wasnt much different from the point of view of the artists or thos e who tried to challenge and criticize institutions that, in their view, were still authoritarian. Rather, the main problem was that they had been over taken by a right-wing form of bourgeois institutional criticism, precisely the process by which all that is solid melts into air (Marx and Engels, 1998: 38). Thus, the claim that the cultural institution ought to be a public sphere was no longer unchallenged. The bourgeoisie had de facto decreed that a cultural institution was primarily an econo mic one and as such had to be subjected to the laws of the market. The belief that cultural institutions ought to provide a representative public sphere broke down with Fordism, and it is not by chance that, in a sense, institutions which still adhere to the ideal of creating a public sphere have survived longer in places where Fordism is still hanging on. Thus, the second wave of institutional critique was in a sense unilateral since claims were made which at that time had at least partially lost their legitimative power. The next factor was the relative transformation of the national cultural sphere that mirrored the transformation of the political cultural sphere. First of all, the nation stat e is no longer the only framework of cultural representation there are also supranational bodies like the European Union. And secondly, their mode of political representation is very complicated and only partly representative. It represents its constituencies symbolically rather than materially. To play on the additional meanings in the German word for representation: Sie stellen sie eher dar, als sie sie vertreten (They portray more than they represent ). Thus, why should a cultural institution materially represent its constituency? Isnt it somehow sufficient to symbo lically represent it? And although the production of a national cultural identity and heritage is still important, it is not only important for the interior or social cohesion of the nation, but also very much to provide it with international selling points in an increasingly globalized cu ltural economy. Thus, in a sense, a process was initiated which is still going on today. That is the process of the cultural or symbolic integration of critique into the institution or
The Institution of Critique 17 rather only into the surface of the institution without materially altering the institution or its organization in any deeper sense. This mirrors a similar process on the political level: the symbolic integration of minorities, for example, while maintain ing political and social inequality, the symbolic representation of constituencies into supranational political bodies and so on. In this sense the bond of material representation was broken and replaced with a more symbolic one. This shift in representational techniques by the cultural institution also mirrored a trend in criticism itse lf, namely the shift from a critique of institution towards a critique of representation. This trend, which was informed by cultural studies, femi nist and postcolonial epistemologies, somehow continued in the vein of the previous institutional critique by comprehending the whole sphere of representation as a public sphere, where material representation ought to be implemented, for example in form of the unbiased and proportiona l display of images of women or black people. This claim somehow mirrors the confusion about representation on the political plan e, since the realm of visual representation is even less representative in the material sense than a supranational political body. It doesnt represent constituencies or subjectivities but creates them; it arti culates bodies, affects and desires. But this is not exactly how it was comprehended, since it was rather taken for a sphere where one has to achieve hegemony a majority on the level of symbolic representation, so to speak in order to achieve an improvement of a diffuse area hovering between politics and economy, state and market, subject as citizen and subject as consumer, as well as between representation and represen tation. Since criticism could no longer establish clear antagonisms in this sphere, it started to fragment and to atomize it, and to support a po litics of identity which led to the fragmentation of public spheres and their replacement by markets, to the culturalization of identity and so on. This representational critique point ed at another aspect, namely the unmooring of the seemingly stable relation between the cultural institution and the nation state. Unfort unately for institutional critics of that period, a model of purely symbolic representation gained legitimacy in this field as well. Institutions no longer claimed to materially represent the nation state and its constituency, but only claimed to represent it symbolically. And thus, while one could say that the former institutional critics were either integr ated into the institution or not, the second wave of institutional critique was integrated not into the
Hito Steyerl 18 institution but into representation as such. Thus, again, a Janus-faced subject was formed. This subject was interested in more diverse and less homogenous forms of representation th an its predecessor. But in trying to create this diversity, it also created niche markets, specialized consumer profiles, and an overall spectacle of difference without effectuating much structural change. But which conditions are prevailing today, during what might tentatively be called an extension of the second wave of institutional critique? Artistic strategies of in stitutional critique have become increasingly complex. They have fortunately developed far beyond the ethnographic urge to indiscriminately drag underprivileged or unusual constituencies into museums, even ag ainst their will just for the sake of representation. They include de tailed investigations, such as for example Allan Sekulas Fish Story which connects a phenomenology of new cultural industries, like the B ilbao Guggenheim, with documents of other institutional constraints, su ch as those imposed by the World Trade Organization or other global economic organizations. They have learned to walk the tightrope betw een the local and the global without becoming either indigenist and et hnographic, or else unspecific and snobbish. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of most cultural institutions that would have to react to the same challenge of having to perform both within a national cultur al sphere and an increasingly globalizing market. If you look at them from one side, then you will see that they are under pressure from indigenist, nationalist and nativist demands. If you look from the other side, then you will see that they are under pressure from neo-liberal institutional critique, that is to say, under the pressure of the market. Now the problem is and this is indeed a very widespread attitude that when a cultural institution comes under pressure from the market, it tries to retreat into a position which claims that it is the duty of the nation state to fund it and to keep it alive. The problem with that position is that it is an ultimately protectionist one, that it ultimately reinforces the construction of national public spheres and that under this perspective the cultural institution can only be defended in the framework of a New Left attitude seeking to retreat into the remnants of a demolished national welfare state and its cultural shells and to defend them against all intruders. In other words, it tends to defend itself ultimately from th e perspective of its other enemies, namely the nativist and indigenist cr itics of institution, who want to
The Institution of Critique 19 transform it into a sort of sacralized ethnopark. But there is no going back to the old Fordist nation-state protectionism, with its cultural nationalism, at least not in any emancipatory perspective. On the other hand, when the cultural institution is attacked from this nativist, indigenist perspective, it also tries to defend itself by appealing to universal values like freedom of speech or the cosmopolitanism of the arts, which are so utterly commodified as either shock effects or the display of enjoyable cultural difference that they hardly exist beyond this form of commodification. Or it might even earnestly try to reconstruct a public sphere within market conditions, for example with the massive temporary spectacles of criticism funded by the German Bundeskulturstiftung (National Foundation for Culture). But under reigning economic conditions, the main effect achieved is to integrate the critics into precarity, into flexibilized working structures within temporary project structures and freelance work within cultural industries. And in the worst cases, those spectacles of criticism are the decoration of large enterprises of ec onomic colonialism such as in the colonization of Eastern Europe by the same institutions that are producing the conceptual art in these regions. If in the first wave of institutional critique criticism produced integration into the institution, in the second one only integration into representation was achieved. But now in the third phase there seems to be only integration into precarity. An d in this light we can now answer the question concerning the function of the institution of critique as follows: while critical institutions are being dismantled by neo-liberal institutional criticism, this produces an ambivalent subject which develops multiple strategies for dealin g with its dislocation. It is on the one side being adapted to the needs of ever more precarious living conditions. On the other, the need seems never to have been greater for institutions that could cater to th e new needs and desires that this constituency will create.
21 3 Anti-Canonization: The Differential Knowledge of Institutional Critique Stefan Nowotny (Translated by Aileen Derieg) Wanting to canonize artistic practices of institutional critique is a rather paradoxical endeavor. The reason is quickly evident. Canonization itself belongs to the specifically institut ional practices that institutional critique refers to and indeed critically refers to. Tacitly ignoring one of these critical impulses is hence in scribed in every canonization attempt, even though a retrospective acknowledgement of the relevance of these impulses is intended. Relevance itse lf is categorized in the framework of a historiography that is entangle d in its own preconditions, clinging jealously to the notion that in the en d it has to be the art whose history is to be written. The results are well known, not onl y in terms of the art subsumed under the name institutional critique, but also in terms of what is called political art in general. Bert Brecht is treated as a revolutionary of theater art who was eccentric enough to be a communist as well; the Situationists are seen as oddballs of fine art who no less eccentrically maintained that changing perceptions of the streets was more important than changing perceptions of painti ng. And the art of institutional critique? As a current it has me anwhile also aged sufficiently to provide a welcome occasion for various historicizations, selfhistoricizations or even examinations of topicality, which instead of examining it regularly become entangled in the self-referentiality specific to the art field, and specifically examining it as institutional practice.
Stefan Nowotny 22 It is not particularly helpful when one established canon or another is itself declared in a duplication of the retrospective gesture the object of negotiation by contrastin g it with a possible other or expanded canon. This is naturally not intended to deny that a critical query and contestation of dominant canonizations, their complicity with social-political power relations, thei r legitimizing and stabilizing function in terms of these hegemonic relati ons were (and are) an important element of the insights of institutional critique. Nevertheless, guidelines for action are not to be seamlessly de rived from theoretical insights in the sense that the end of changing criticized conditions is already to be reached with the means of an expanded or counter-canon. This circumvention suffers from the problem of all superficial theories of hegemony: an insufficient reflection on the level of the means themselves. Where the critical impulse is at least maintained as a socialpolitical one, this is usually accompanied by a fetishization of the ends, which ultimately obscures a critical examination of the means altogether; where it withdraws into the self-contemplation of the contexts it started from (and this is of particular interest here), the result is the fetishization of a certain form of ends What is fetishized in the latter case is less the end itself, but rather the form in which it is sought, th at is, more precisely, the form of aiming at something or the link binding means and ends together. And this link proves to be all the more deceptive, since an incautious consideration of the form of ends and means may depict one and the same thing. Pursuing an end accordin g to a certain form and treating it solely within the confines of this fo rm, however, does not at all signify a sufficient reflection on the means. Instea d, it simply signifies fixing the means as such to a spectrum placed beyond the realm of critique, a spectrum that yet results from a specific, fundamentally contingent connection between means and ends in need of reflection. And it ultimately signifies constraining th e possible ends themselves, to the extent that the only acceptable end is one that corresponds to a given spectrum of means.1 A flagrant example of fi xing institutional critique art practices to art as the form of ends is found, for instance, in an issue of Texte zur Kunst devoted to institutional critique There, Isabelle Graw proposes expanding the canon of the usual suspects (Michael Asher, Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke, Andrea Fraser, etc.) with artists such as Jrg Immendorff or Martin Kippenberger. The concern that the existing
Anti-Canonization 23 canon could be at the expense of certain artists, whose work could be equally regarded as questioning the institution of art or as an attack on it (Graw, 2005: 47) is just as characteristic as the expense rhetoric that Graw utilizes, which appears at least ambiguous in the context of the magazine that conceptually addresses a match between art criticism and the art market (or more precisely: that is to be read against the background of the highly conflictu al interweaving of symbolic and material valuation systems, which is characteristic of the art field throughout modernism). No less characteristic is the specification of Graws concern, which immediately follows: this relates to painting, the canonical neglect of which is deplored as a proven me dium of institutional critique. Accordingly, the figure of the osten tatiously solitary atelier painter, who withdraws his mental and emot ional competences from public access, is stylized into the carrier of an institutional critique revolt, into an anti-neo-liberal spectacle dissident The genius in individual revolt need only withdraw and produce; all the others can devote themselves to the contemplative viewing of the fruits of his competences (Nowotny, 2005), specifically why not? in the form of institutional critical painting. Meanwhile, the insti tution of art carries on in its old familiar bourgeois variation undeterred if it were not for the unfortunate battle against its neo-liberal adversaries, in which it is entangled. The irony of all this is that Graws concerns are not only due to the dissatisfaction that art fixed to its presumed capability of critique is underestimated, but also that th ey claim to do justice to another concern, namely that an inflati onary assertion of critique could ultimately lead to the neutralizat ion of every possibility of really achieving critique (Graw, 2005: 41, 43). The latter concern indeed touches on a central problem that is inextricably linked with the activity of critique as opposed to its me re assertion and which has been widely discussed in the art field, not least of all since the publication of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapellos The New Spirit of Capitalism How does critical activity relate to its e ffects? To what extent is it capable of keeping alive its differential deployment aimed at change beyond the respective self-assurance of a critica l distance, in other words, feeding it into a social context and counteracting its own neutralization or the ways it is even inverted for uncritical purposes?
Stefan Nowotny 24 However, Graw does not let this concern leap any borders, but encloses it within the boundaries of the very field that art criticism routinely institutionally plows. For this reason, the questions remain obscured that would arise from the in version of Graws suspicion about fixing art to its capability for criti que: namely, whether the critique that is manifested in institutional critique practices is not underestimated when it is fixed to its character as art. In fact, in terms of canonization, this question can be traced even in th e first generation of institutional critique art practices, for it is an essential element of the critical impulses of these practices. It may be sufficient here to recall Robert Smithsons essay Cultural Confinement from 1972, which sees the conditions for neutralizing the explosiveness of crit ique specifically in its fixation to being art (and not in the reverse fixa tion), that is in the confinement of the critical to a predetermined framework of representation: Museums, like asylums and jails, have yards and cells in other words, neutral rooms called galleries A work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge, and becomes a portable object or surface disengaged from the outside world. A vacant white room with lights is still a submission to the neutral  The func tion of the warden-curator is to separate art from the rest of society. Next comes integration. Once the work of art is totally neutralized, ineffective, abstracted, safe, and politically lobotomized, it is read y to be consumed by society. (Smithson, 2001: 16) It would be too simple to reduce th e scope of Smithsons criticism to the museum-bound forms of repres entation and curatorship that it directly refers to. The operative structure that it describes, namely the political lobotomization of the potential charge of artistic works that follows from isolation and neutralizing reintegration, can also be observed often enough where art works in public space, intended as political interventions, only provoke meager debates about art or occasionally about cultural policies, instead of really triggering the intended political discussions. The warden-curator as functionary of this operative structure is abetted, in turn, by a whole series of further functionaries, including, not least of all, the professional discourse producers of the art field. This also applies to the artists themselves, whom Smithson is already far from locating in a naively asserted outside of the institutional field of power pe r se, which is evident, for instance, in his polemic against post-minimalist art practices:
Anti-Canonization 25 Also, I am not interested in art works that suggest process within the metaphysical limits of the neutral r oom. There is no freedom in that kind of behavioral game playing. The artist acting like a B. F. Skinner rat doing his tough little tricks is something to be avoided. Confined process is no process at all. It would be better to disclose the confinement rather than make illusions of freedom. (Smithson, 2001: 16) The institutional critique impulse originating with artists like Smithson not only ties into the desire for a pos itively productive re-socialization of their own activities going beyond the boundaries of the art field, but also into the impulse to critically que ry ones own role as an artist and the forms of artistic self-confin ement. Adrian Piper succinctly formulated the task of self-criticism that becomes apparent in this latter impulse (and which can be expanded to other functionaries within the art field) no less polemically than Smithson in a text written in 1983: [T]here is no biological necessity about a socially conditioned disinclination to perform the difficu lt and often thankless task of political self-analysis. It is not as though artists are congenitally incapacitated by having right cerebral hemispheres the size of a watermelon and left cerebral hemispheres the size of a peanut. (Piper, 2001: 50-1) That not only the sharpness and decisiveness of these kinds of statements, but especially the multiple layers of the critical gesture inherent to them are marginalized in the discussion today, in favor of routine canonizations and countercanonizations, may have something to do with the fact that the reason for current debates on art institutions and other public institutions is th e impact of neo-liberal policies on these institutions. And as in other areas as well, the extent of political defensiveness and a lack of orientation in light of rampaging neo-liberal reforms is expressed, not least of all, in the defense of instruments and institutions that might well have been the subject of a critical examination yesterday. Instead of targeting what can generally be identified as art and classified in currents, against this background it would seem advisable not to fall back behind the institutional critique of historical political analyses of mode rn art and exhibition institutions or art as an institutional field like Carol Duncans Civilizing Rituals (1995) for instance, or Tony Bennetts The Birth of the Museum (1995). With Bennetts historically precise reconstruction of the modern museum and exhibition complex in mind, for example, carried out
Stefan Nowotny 26 against the background of Foucaults analyses of governmentality (Nowotny, 2003a; 2005), it would be better to begin by considering the overlapping of various governmentality arrangements in which institutional critique has to orient it self today, both within the art field and beyond it. Given the growing divergence between political economy and nation-state frameworks, this overlapping must be seen as inherently contradictory. Yet if every form of historiography must ultimately be regarded as an institutional practice itself and an outside the institution cannot simply be presumed, but rather questions must be raised about the possibilities of a transformation of institutional practices, how can an alternative to canonization be im agined that is not a countercanonization? One possibility certainly consists in a political analysis of the respective constellation, in which in stitutional critique is articulated. This means assuming a perspective wh ich takes into account the specific functionality of the art field within th e concrete social-political context, ranging beyond the self-referential st ructures of this field, and which also includes a view to the changes, to which this functionality and thus the conditions of critique are subj ected. Here I would like to propose a somewhat different approach, however which does not contradict the first at all, but should rather be appended to it: an approach that envisions critique less in keeping with the model of a judgement structure (roughly speaking, in other words, a subject that positions itself vis--vis the criticized conditions), but rather with the model of a practice (meaning a subject that is involved and involves itself in a specific way in the criticized conditions). Perhaps too little attention has previously been given to the fact that Foucault where he talks about suppressed knowledges, the local discursivities that are denigrated by the dominant discourse describes these forms of knowledge as, among others, differential knowledge (Foucault, 1999: 16). What does the notion of differentiality refer to here? On the one hand, certainly to th e resistance of this knowledge, to the fact that it owes its force to th e sharpness with which it enters into opposition with everything around it . On the other hand, however, it also refers to this knowledge being differential in itself (also selfpluralizing for this reason), to the fact that it cannot be transposed into unanimity even though the Foucauld ian genealogy itself, as a tactic of its description, exposes it to a certa in danger of uniformed coding and re-colonization (Foucault, 1999: 21). Not least of all, this knowledge is
Anti-Canonization 27 differential because it does not allow itself, being resistive, to be subjected to any authorized discursive field, to any authorization by a dominant discourse, but instead recognizes the power effects found in the separation of knowledge into fields and in furnishing these fields with discursive authorities, yet without composing itself into a new totality of knowledge. Hence as plural knowledge it also does not organize itself under a unified form, but rather in an open, non-dialectical game of concurrence. For precisely this reason, the Foucauldian genealogy can be concerned with preparing a hist orical knowledge of struggles and introducing this knowledge into curre nt tactics (Foucault, 1999: 17). The struggles that Foucault was sp ecifically thinking of in the mid1970s and through which for ten, fifteen years now [...] it has become possible to criticize things, in stitutions, practices, discourses to a tremendous and overflowing extent (Foucault, 1999: 13) were particularly those of anti-psychiatry, attacks on gender hierarchies and sexual morals, and on the legal and penal apparatus. Why should we not append the battles of institutional criti que practices to this list (it is not a coincidence that Robert Smithson compares the cells of the museums with those of asylums and prisons in the passage quoted above...)? What could come into view through this kind of perspective is not so much or at least not solely the question of the respective critical assessment of art institutions, and certa inly not of a canon, but rather an open field of a knowledge of action, a practical knowledge that rejects reintegration into the form of ends specific to art and in which the difference of institutional critique is actualized. We find it in the most diverse tactics of context politicizati on, self-masking, alienation, parody, the situation-specific refraction of themes, research, discursive and material context production, in self -institutionalization, in production that starts with social interaction, or even simply in a more or less developed renegade position. A historiography and investigation of institutional critique could be oriented to these practices, if the aim is to introduce this knowledge into current tactics. Notes 1. An example from at least at first glance outside the art field that indicates the background of these re flections (namely Walter Benjamins essay On the Critique of Violence): Pursuing the end of justice under the
Stefan Nowotny 28 form of law, in other words as a legal end, means nothing more than considering it (egally) capable of generalization, whereby the form of law is placed beyond dispute both at the leve l of the means (legal claims, laws, etc.) and at the level of the ends (e.g. the non-contradictory regulation of human affairs).
29 4 Notes on Institutional Critique Simon Sheikh The very term institutional critique seems to indicate a direct connection between a method and an object: the method being the critique and the object the institution. In the first wave of institutional critique from the late 1960s and ea rly 1970s long since celebrated and relegated by art history these terms could apparently be even more concretely and narrowly defined: the critical method was an artistic practice, and the institution in quest ion was the art institution, mainly the art museum, but also galleries and collections. Institutional critique thus took on many forms, such as artistic works and interventions, critical writings or (art-)political activism. However, in the so-called second wave, from the 1980s, the institutional framework became somewhat expanded to include the ar tists role (the subject performing the critique) as institutionalized, as well as an investigation into other institutional spaces (and practices) besides the art space.1 Both waves are today themselves part of the art inst itution, in the form of art history and education as much as in the general de-materialized and postconceptual art practice of contemporary art. It shall not be my purpose here, however, to discuss or access th e meaning of institutional critique as an art historical canon, or to engage in the writing of such a canon (I shall respectfully leave that endeavor for the Texte zur Kunst and October magazines of this world). Instead, though, I would like to point out a convergence between the two waves, that seems to have drastically changed in the current return of in stitutional critique that may or may not constitute a third wave. In either of its historical emergences, institutional critique was a practice ma inly, if not exclusively, conducted
Simon Sheikh 30 by artists, and directed against the (art) institutions, as a critique of their ideological and representative soci al function(s). Arts institutions, which may or may not contain the arti sts work, were seen, in the words of Robert Smithson, as spaces of cultural confinement and circumscription, and thus as something to attack aesthetically, politically and theoretically. The institution was pos ed as a problem (for artists). In contrast, the current instituti onal-critical discussions seem predominantly propagated by curators and directors of the very same institutions, and they are usually opting for rather than against them. That is, they are not an effort to oppos e or even destroy the institution, but rather to modify and solidify it. The institution is not only a problem, but also a solution! There has been a shift, then, in the placement of institutional critique, not only in hist orical time, but also in terms of the subjects who direct and perform the critique it has moved from an outside to an inside. Interestingly, Benjamin Buchloh (1990) has described the historical moment of conceptual ar t as a movement from institutional critique and the aesthetic of ad ministration to the critique of institutions, in a controversial essa y entitled, tellingly, Conceptual Art 1962: From the Aesthetics of Administration to the Critique of Institutions. While Buchloh focuses on the emergence of conceptualism, his suggestive distinct ion is perhaps even more pertinent now that institutional critique is literally being performed by administrative aestheticians, i.e. museum directors, curators etc. (Buchloh, 1990). Taking her cue from Buchloh, Andrea Fraser goes a step further in her recent essay From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique, where she cl aims that a movement between an inside and an outside of the institut ion is no longer possible, since the structures of the institution have become totally internalized. We are the institution, Fraser (2005: 282) writ es, and thus concludes that it is rather a question of creating critical institutions what she terms an institution of critique, established throug h self-questioning and selfreflection (Fraser, 2005). Fraser also wr ites that the institutions of art should not be seen as an autonomous fi eld, separate from the rest of the world, the same way that we are not separate from the institution. While I would certainly agree with any attempt to view art institutions as part of a larger ensemble of socio-economic and disciplinary spaces, I am nonetheless confused by the simu ltaneous attempt to integrate the art world into the current ( politico-economic) world system and the
Notes on Institutional Critique 31 upholding of a we of the art world itself. Who exactly is this we? If the art world is seen as part of a ge neralized institutionalization of social subjects (that in turn internalizes the institutionalization), what and where are the demarcation lines for entry, for visibility and representation? If one of the criteria for institutions is given in the exclusions performed by them (as inherent in any collection), the question which subjects fall outside in stitutionalization, not due to a willful act or exodus as certain artistic movements thought and desired, but through the expulsions at the very center of institutions that allow them to institutionalize? Obviously, this would require a very expanded notion of institutional critique one that lies somewhat outside the history of institutional critique as discussed here. So, to return to the object at hand institutional critique as an art practice: what does it mean when the practice of institutional critique and analysis has shifted from artists to curators and critics, and when the institution has become internaliz ed in artists and curators alike (through education, through art historical canon, through daily praxis)? Analyzed in terms of negative dialectics, this would seem to indicate the total co-optation of institutional crit ique by the institutions (and by implication and extension, the co-opt ation of resistance by power), and thus make institutional critique as a critical method completely obsolete. Institutional critique, as co-opted, wo uld be like bacteria that may have temporarily weakened the patient th e institution but only in order to strengthen the immune system of that patient in the long run. However, such a conclusion would hinge around notions of subjectivities, agencies and spatialities that institutional crit ique, arguably, tried to deconstruct. It would imply that the historical institutional critique was somehow original and pure, thus confirmi ng the authenticity of the artistsubjects performing it (as opposed to the current institutional subjects), and consequently reaffirming one of the ideas that institutional critique set out to circumvent, namely the notion of authentic subjects per se (as represented by the artist, reified by the institution). If institutional critique was indeed a discourse of disclosure and demystification of how the arti stic subject as well as object was staged and reified by the institution, then any narrative that (again) posits certain voices and subjects as authentic, as possible incarnations of certain politics and criticalities, mu st be said to be not only counter to the very project of institutional critique, but perhaps also the ultimate co-optation, or more accurately, hos tile take-over of it. Institutional
Simon Sheikh 32 critique is, after all, not primarily a bout the intentionalities and identities of subjects, but rather about the politics and inscriptions of institutions (and, thus, about how subjects are always already threaded through specific and specifiable institutional spaces). Rather, one must try to historicize the moments of institutional critique and look at how it has been successful, in terms of being integrated into the education of artist s and curators, that is of what Julia Bryan-Wilson has termed the curriculum of institutional critique (Bryan-Wilson, 2003). One can then see institutional critique not as a historical period and/or genre within art history, but rather as an analytical tool, a method of spatial and political criticism and articulation that can be applied not only to the art world, but to disciplinary spaces and institutions in general. An inst itutional critique of institutional critique, what can be termed institutionalized critique, has then to question the role of education, hi storicization and how institutional auto-critique not only leads to a quest ioning of the institution and what it institutes, but also becomes a mechanism of control within new modes of governmentality, precisely through its very act of internalization. And this is the expanded notion of institutional critique that I briefly mentioned above, an d which could become the legacy of the historical movements as much as an orientation for what so-called critical art institutions claim to be. Notes 1. James Meyer (1993) has tried to establish a genealogy rather than a mere art history of institutional critique.
33 5 Criticism without Crisis: Crisis without Criticism Boris Buden Why do we talk today about institutional critique in the field of art? The answer is very simple: Because we (st ill) believe that art is intrinsically equipped with the power of criticism. Of course, we dont simply mean art criticism here but something more than that, the ability of art to criticize the world and life beyond its own realm, and even, by doing that, to change both. This includes, however, some sort of self-criticism, or more precisely, the practice of critical self-reflexivity, which means that we also expect of art or at least used to expect to be critically aware of the conditions of its possibility, which usually means, the conditions of its production. These two notions to be aware of the conditions of possibility and production point at two major re alms of modern criticism: the theoretical and the practical-political realm. It was I mmanuel Kant who first posed the question about the conditions of possibility of our knowledge and who understood this question explicitly as an act of criticism. From that point on we may say that modern reflection is either critical in this self-reflexive way or it is not modern. But we are not going to follow th is theoretical line of modern criticism here. We will concentrate in stead on its practical and political meaning, which can be simply described as a will for radical change, in short, the demand for revolution, whic h is the ultimate form of practical and political criticism. The French Revolution was not only prepared through the bourgeois criticism of th e absolutist state. It was nothing but this criticism in actu its last word turned in to political action. The idea of revolution as an ultimate act of criticism has found its most
Boris Buden 34 radical expression in Marxist theo retical and political concepts. Remember that the young Karl Marx explicitly characterized his own revolutionary philosophy as the ruthless critique of everything existing. He meant this in the most radical sense as a criticism that operates in the very basement of social life, that is, in the realm of its material production and reproduction, something we understand today, perhaps oversimplifying, as the realm of economy. In this way criticism has become one of the essential qualities of modernity. For almost two centuries to be modern meant simply to be critical in philosophy as much as in moral questions, in politics and social life as much as in art. But there is also another concept, which as a sort of its complement has long accompanied the idea and practice of modern criticism, and that is the concept of crisis. A belief that the two crisis and criticism have something in co mmon, that there is an authentic relation, or better, an interaction between them, equally belongs to the modern experience. Therefore, an act of criticism almost necessarily implies the awareness of a crisis and vice versa; a diagnosis of crisis implies the necessity of criticism. Actually, criticism and crisis didnt enter the historical scene at the same time. Criticism is the ch ild of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. It was born and de veloped out of the separation between politics and morality, a separation that criticism has deepened and kept alive throughout the modern age. It was only through the process of criticism the criticism of all forms of traditional knowledge, religious beliefs and aesthetic values, the criticism of existing juridical and political reality and finally the crit icism of the mind itself that the growing bourgeois class could impose it s own interests and values as the highest instance of judgement and in that way develop the selfconfidence and self-conscience it n eeded for the decisive political struggles to come. In this context one shouldnt underestimate the role of art and literary criticism especially in the development of the modern philosophy of history. It was precisely art and literary criticism that produced at that time among the intelligentsia the awareness of a contradiction between the old and th e modern and in that way shaped a new understanding of time capable of differentiating the future from the past. But at the end of this peri od arises also the awareness of the approaching crisis: We are approaching the state of crisis and the
Criticism Without Crisis 35 century of revolutions, writes Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1966: 252). Whereas for Enlightenment thinkers revolution was a synonym for an inevitable historical progress, which occurs necessarily as a kind of natural phenomenon, Rousseau by contrast understood it as the ultimate expression of crisis, which br ings about the state of insecurity, dissolution, chaos, new contradictions, etc. In connection with the crisis which it has prepared and initiated criticism loses its original navety and its alleged innocence. From now on criticism and crisis go together shaping the modern age of civil wars and revolutions, which instead of bringing about the expected hist orical progress, cause chaotic dissolutions and obscure regressive processes, often completely beyond rational control. The interaction between criticism and crisis is one of the major qualities of what later was c onceptualized as the dialectics of enlightenment. In the meantime the interplay of both notions became a sort of terminus technicus of modernist progress introducing a difference and simultaneously a relation between old and new. To say that something has gone into crisis meant above all to say that it has become old; that is, that it has lost its ri ght to exist and therefore should be replaced by something new. Criticism is nothing but the act of this judgement, which helps the old to die quickly and the new to be born easily. This also applies to the developm ent of modern art, which also follows the dialectics of criticism and crisis of its forms. So we understand for instance realism as a critical reaction to the crisis of Romanticism, or the idea of abstract art as a critique of figurative art, which has exhausted its potential and therefore went into crisis. Also the tension between art and prosaic reality was interpreted through the dialectics of crisis and criticism. So was modern art especially in Romanticism often understood as a criticism of ordinary life, of ordinariness as such, or in other words of a life that had lost its authenticity or its meaning in short, a life that had also gone into some kind of crisis. Let us now go back to the question, whether this dialectics of criticism and crisis still makes some sense to us today. A few months ago in Austria I had an opportunity to pose this question directly. I moderated a discussion on the legacy of the artistic avant-garde today in the post-communist Eastern Europe I hoped everybody would agree
Boris Buden 36 when I said that the avant-garde is still the most radical case of modernist art criticism both in terms of a criticism of traditional art of its time and in terms of a criticism of existing reality, precisely in the moment of its widely recognized and acknowledged crisis. After five hours of debate, the conclusion was that the critical experience of avantgarde art is of no value at all today, at least not in Eastern Europe. The participants in the discussion were mostly younger artists from central and southern regions of Ea stern Europe, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and also Turkey. Actually, only the representative of Turkey was prepared to take the topic seriously and believed that the critical stance of the avant-garde still makes some sense to us today. The most open and most radical in his refusal of the avant-garde question was the representative of the Czech Republic. He argued that the avant-garde experience is actually a problem of generations. For him, it is an ol der generation of artists and art historians that still sees some ch allenge in the avant-garde and is bothered by this question. The younger generation, he believes, is already beyond the problem of the polit ical meaning of art, or relations between politics and aesthetics. He gave this example: the old generation still discusses vehemently whether or not we need to consider the political meaning of Le ni Riefenstahls work. For the young generation, on the contrary, this simply doesnt matter any more. They have so to speak a direct insight into her art without any political connotations. They see it as what it really is a pure art in its pure aesthetic value and meaning. In fact I was not interested at all in this topic, since I know these people and their interests, so I didnt actually expect them to be really interested in the avant-garde. Howe ver, there was another issue I found much more interesting there. The part icipants were actually all members of the so-called Transit-Project. This is a project that was launched a few years ago by an Austrian bank with the aim of supporting art in Eastern Europe. The participants were representatives of the project in their countries. Since I know that th is particular bank has earned an enormous amount of money in East ern Europe, I was curious whether they would have any opinion on that fact that is, on the way they are paid for their artistic work, or on th e role of art and art funding under these circumstances.
Criticism Without Crisis 37 I was also motivated by an article that appeared around then in the Viennese daily Der Standard It reported on the profits of Austrian banks and insurance companies in Eastern Europe. In it, one could read that the result of the so-called business activity of the Generali Holding Vienna (an insurance company) had tripled the year before. The annual net profit had doubled in the same year. One can only wonder how this had been possible. The answer was to be found in the subtitle of the same article: The growth engine Eastern Europe. It is due to the eastern expansion of the holding and Austrian banks too that they can make such profits. I hoped that the participants would somehow tackle this issue. To speak more openly, I wanted to provoke some sort of criticism. Unfortunately, it di dnt work. Nobody found the economic, material conditions of their art making worth mentioning. It seems that the critical legacy of the avant-garde in postcommunist Europe is finally dead. Moreover, it also seems that there is no authentic interest among young arti sts in institutional criticism, in what we have called above self-criticism: critical awareness of the conditions of the possibility of th eir art and the conditions of its production. The reason for this is obvious: our perception of avant-garde criticism is essentially framed by the historical experience of communism. This means that the ex perience of the avant-garde, as much as the experience of radical criticism, appears to us today only from our post-communist (post-tota litarian, or post-ideological) perspective. It appears as a phenom enon of our past, as a phenomenon, to use Francis Fukuyamas (1992: xi) notion, of a lower level of humanitys ideological evolution. In short it appears that, as a problem, it belongs to the concerns of an older generation, to use words of the Czech colleague, and thus by implicat ion is sooner or later going to die out. But let me, at this point, pose an impossible question: is communism really dead? As far as I know, it is not only still alive, but also proves, in some fields, its superi ority over capitalism. Yes, I really mean todays China. (Please dont tell me that this is not the real communism. There has never been a real communism. I can remember very well that from the perspectiv e of Yugoslavian communism also often dismissed, due to the market economy, as not being an authentic, real one the Soviet and whole Ea st-block communism was defined as
Boris Buden 38 a form of state-capitalism). Why dont we then learn about radical criticism and self-criticism from Chinese communists who obviously seem to have been more successful than their Western comrades? But before we ask the highest theoretical authority of the Chinese communism about the true meaning of criticism and self-criticism, let me remind you of a historical fact : In the historical reality of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the idea of communist revolution itself became an institution in the form of the communist movement and the Communist Party in its various national forms. As an institution, the communist movement also developed its own institution of criticism, the institution of so-called self-criticism, which played the extremely important function of info rming the self-conscious subject of revolutionary action and later of a socialist community. For Chairman Mao, conscientious practice of self-criticism was one of the most important hallmarks distinguishing a Communist Party from all other political parties. Let me quote him: As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades minds and our Partys work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing. Therefore, self-criticism is for Mao the only effective way to prevent all kinds of political dust and germs from contaminating the minds of our comrades and the body of our Party. This sounds very funny to us today, like an infantile ideological fairy tale. But let me point to a crucial contradiction in Maos concept of selfcriticism: it has nothing to do whatsoever with the crisis of capitalism or with any sort of crisis. Although Ma o describes communist self-criticism as the most effective weapon of Marx ism-Leninism, he doesnt justify it with the ideological principals of Marxism-Leninism. On the contrary, his definition of self-criticism seem s to be completely non-ideological, simply a matter of trivial common sense: a clean face is better than a dirty one, a clean room better than one full of dust, germs are bad for health. Why this trivialization? And, what is even more important, what happened to the crisis, where has it gone, why has it suddenly disappeared? Why this particular form of communist criticism a selfcriticism that is not related to any sort of crisis? In the guise of the communist political move ment both the crisis of capitalism and its criticism have merged into one single institution in which there is no
Criticism Without Crisis 39 possibility to differentiate between th em. In other words, precisely in merging together they have become each others outside. For the communist movement the crisis of capitalism was suddenly out there, in the outside of its own institution. Bu t for capitalism, too, the criticism of its crisis can now be perceived onl y as coming from its own outside. The result is that communists couldnt see themselves as being part of the capitalist crisis and therefore, in stead of resolving it, through their criticism, they have finally succeeded in making it stronger, more efficient, finally more sustainable or simply permanent. The problem was that communism and capitalism or if you want, capitalism as crisis and its communist criticism have ne ver reached the point of a radical mutual exclusion, but on the contrary, were helping each other in moments of crises. Why should we forget that it was precisely American capital which helped Bolshevik Russia to recover from the destructions of the civil war? And why forget the role of art in this story? The Soviets, as it is well known, were exchanging some of the most precious and also most expensive art works, mostly French paintings from the nineteen century, for new industrial technology from the United States. In our liberal jargon we today would call it a perfect win-win situati on. The one side could get rid of what it consider ed at that time meaningless and historically obsolete (i.e., bourgeois art). And the other side could expand its markets, push forward employment and consequently stabilize the social situation and pacify its working class (i.e., escape its crisis). It didnt work, but not, as many believe today, because the Bolsheviks were primitives who couldn t recognize the real value of the artworks they possessed. Far from it : they knew all about the market value of those artworks, and this acco rding to the pure capitalist logic. They treated them exclusively as commodities. But this became possible only after these artworks were artistically devaluated, after they had lost their artistic value as a consequence of an authentic art-criticism. It was actually the avant-garde art that stated the crisis of traditional art and within what we today understand as pure history of art radically criticized all these French paintings and destroyed their artistic value. Moreover, it was now the artistic avant-garde itself that needed factories and working masses in order to articulate its artistic principles and produce its own artistic values. The avant-garde did not need museums and depots to collect its works and present them to an audience they didnt care about and were actually disgusted with. And
Boris Buden 40 who could provide the needed factories and working class? American industrial technology. Capitalism, in short. This is a wonderful example of how crisis and criticism of bot h capitalism and art can successfully work together, of course within an ov erall capitalist context, in order to produce normality! Another example of how capitalis m and communism can function in harmony is of course todays Chin a. To translate the reality into the dialectics of crisis and its criticism, it is precisely the rule of an institutionalized criticism of capita lism (i.e., the rule of the Chinese Communist Party) that today helps capitalism to survive its crises and persist. Not only by opening the worlds largest market to global corporate capital, but also by providing it with cheap and highly disciplined labour. This doesnt happen, as so many believe, because todays Chinese communists have betrayed the very principles of the communist idea, and because, ceasing to criticize capitalism, they have started to improve it. They have not betrayed Mao. On the contrary, they stick faithfully to his true legacy. Let me quote the Chairman once mo re. Discussing the necessity for self-criticism, he calls for personal sacrifice: As we Chinese Communists, who never balk at any personal sacrifice and are ready at all times to give our lives for the cause, can we be reluctant to discard any idea, viewpoi nt, opinion or method which is not suited to the needs of the people? Can we be willing to allow political dust and germs to dirty our clean faces or eat into our healthy organisms? [C]an there be any personal interest that we would not sacrifice or any error that we would not discard? And lets remember that the famous Stalinist show trials would have never been possible without the instit ution of self-criticism and personal sacrifice. As is well known today, th ey were introduced at the beginning of the 1930s, precisely at the moment when collectivization started to produce catastrophic results, plunging Soviet society into deep crisis. It was self-criticism that then helped to project this crisis into an outside, to present it as an effect of the su bversion from the outside, a work of imperialist spies and agents. It was therefore completely understandable that the institution had to be clea ned up from all those germs and parasites which had eaten into the he althy organism of Soviet society. Criticism in the guise of communist self-criticism was used (or if you like misused), not to disclose the real crisis and its antagonisms and
Criticism Without Crisis 41 intervene in it (which would have been a classical Marxist approach), but on the contrary to hide it and in this way to make it permanent, that is, to transform or translate crisis in some sort of normality. This is typical for todays situation: neither are we able to experience our time as crisis nor do we try to become subjects through an act of criticism. In the period of classical modernism, crisis was always experienced as an actual possibility of a break and criticism as this break itself. Obviously, such an experience is no longer possible for us today. There is no experience whatsoever of an interaction between crisis and critique. One cannot simply ignore Giorgio Agambens warning, that one of the most important experiences of our times is the fact that we are unable to have any experience of it. The result is a permanent criticism that is blind to the crisis, and a permanent crisis that is deaf to criticism. In short, a perfect harmony!
43 6 Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique Jens Kastner (Translated by Aileen Derieg) In 1970 a group called the Guerilla Art Collective Project placed military uniforms filled with meat and labeled SHIP TO in the main square in front of the university in San Di ego. The action at the same time a protest against the war in Vietnam and an art production (Breitwieser, 2003: 16) was carried out on the borderline between installation and sculpture, as well as between art and politics. The group member who initiated the project was Allan Sekula, a student of the social philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse was one of the most important advocates of social movements in the 1960s. His One-Dimensional Man (1964), influential for many students in Western Europe and North America during that period, saw in the protest movements new possibilities for the realization of alternative, non-alienated ways of living, an approach that later became conventional in research dealing with social movements. However, it was not only these possibilities that united the various upheavals since the mid-1960s and partly enabled the conjoining of very different concerns feminist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist, antiauthoritarian, anti-imperialist and anti -militarist. Similar in some ways to Dada fifty years earlier, in terms of what the actors had in common, 1968 as an international or transnational upheaval, as a world revolution ( il manifesto ), in which widespread artistic mobilization was also involved, was based primarily on negative internationalist motivations: the war against Vietnam conducted by the USA was the outstanding negatively uniting element. The military intervention of the USA in the Vietnam conflict gave the protests of the various national
Jens Kastner 44 student avant-garde groups an intern ational dimension, an idea that united them, and a common strategy (Gilcher-Holtey, 2003: 49). Just as social criticism was linked at the po litical level in the urban centers through this negative bracket with liberation movements in developing countries, at the cultural level agit ation by politicized students joined forces with artists expanding their methods. Countless artistic actions took place in the most diverse countries in the course of the protest movements, linking anti-war ideas with local social, cultural and political concerns, and especially joined them with the actions of the social movements. In his history of con ceptual art Tony Godfrey (2005: 190) wonders about how little the political situation was directly addressed by art in light of the vehement student unrest, but he considers the importance of the Vietnam war in the development of art in the late 1960s and early 1970s so great that he begins every chapter of his book by elaborating on it. My thesis is that the internationalist orientation functions both as the potential link between artistic and social movements and as a possible means for overcoming the structural obstacles between both. This conjunction is by no means to be taken for granted, nor is it generally the case. It is blocked, according to Pierre Bourdieu, by the complete difference and incompat ibility of the respective fields. Although there exists a structural affinity between literary avant-garde and the political avant-garde (Bourdieu, 1996: 251), the reconciliation of the two in a sort of summation of all revolutions social, sexual, artistic (Bourdieu, 1996: 387) repeatedly runs into the rifts or hurdles that exist between the two areas. It was not unusual for these hurdles to appear even in the context of 1968. They were evident, for example, in the repeatedly occurring, mutual vitu peration between political activists and activist artists. In 1971 Henryk M. Broder, for instance, contended that the Vienna Actionist Otto Muehl was no leftist, but an analfascist, whereas Muehl criticized the bourgeois mentality of all revolutionaries, who put on their comfy slippers again when they are finished revolting (Raunig, 2007: 290). The controversies surrounding Muehl and the other actors from Vienna Actionism were ultimately so heated because the art scene in Austria had a certain dominance within the situation in 1968, which was gene rally marked, according to Robert Foltin (2004: 74) by a lack of theory and by a low degree of militancy.1
Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique 45 The thesis that social and artist ic movements come together and/or mutually permeate one another in artistic internationalism also contradicts two narrow readings of Bourdieu, which have been formulated in discussions about institutional critique. Andrea Frasers reading (2005), for example, which picks up from Bourdieu, regards the art field as being so closed that ev erything done outside it can have no effects at all towards the inside and vice versa. In the essay that opens this volume, Gerald Raunig rightly criticizes Frasers position, and Stefan Nowotny in his text on ant i-canonization criticizes a similar position on the part of Isabelle Graw. Nowotny maintains that in Graws essay Beyond Institutional Critique is a flagrant example of fixing institutional critique art practices to art (this volume). However, Graws position also stands for a s econd curtailment of Bourdieus art field theory. In light of the sales-oriented clientele of a New York art fair, completely uninterested in content, she wrote in a Tageszeitung article in 2004 that under these circumstances... the notion of art as an autonomous special sphere... can no longer be maintained (Graw, 2005: 15). However, since the aut onomization of the art field, the economy of symbolic goods, which Bo urdieu speaks of, does not take place between the poles of total commercialization and pure production.2 Hence the existence and expansion of influential art fairs does not at all contradict the autonomy of the field.3 Objections must therefore be raised against both of these constrictions: talking about the autonomy of the art field means neithe r asserting a social area incapable of achieving effects towards the outsid e, nor that a terrain exists here, which is untouched by economic, social and other influences. Instead, it is a matter of pointing out specific functionalities that differ from those in other social fields.4 The artist, photographer and art theoretician Allan Sekula also formulated the protest against the Vietnam War in another action, one that was photographically documented. In this six-part photo series an activist, barefooted and equipped with a Vietnamese peasants straw hat and plastic machine gun, crawls thro ugh the wealthy suburbs of a large US city. The title of the 1972 action, Two, three, many ... (terrorism), directly refers to Ernesto Che Guevaras anti-imperialist foco theory. In this context Guevara called for the creation of two, three, many Vietnams to expand the so-called peoples war against imperialism by creating multiple revolutionary hot spots. Sekula thus puts Che Guevaras internationalist appeal into an artistic form, indicating the justification
Jens Kastner 46 for the appeal on the one hand, but on the other also representing a symbolic alternative to the non-art istic implementation of guerrilla concepts in the major urban centers. The foco theory was not only one of the foundations for the development of the urban guerrilla concept by the Red Army Fraction (RAF) in 1971. Following a first wave of guerrilla movements limited to Latin America, a second wave (KallerDietrich and Mayer, undated) arose in Western cities based on the practices of the Tupamaros, the leftist urban guerrillas in Uruguay. The Weather Underground in the USA and other radical leftist groups in various western countries also referred directly or indirectly to this dictum from Che Guevara as they went underground (Jacobs, 1997). The collage series Bringing the War Home (1967 1972) by the US artist and art theoretician Martha Rosler5 is also to be seen in the context of foco theory. The collages show various motifs from the Vietnam War mounted in pictures from contemporary US American brochures for furnishings. By calling everyday furnishings into question as the furnishings of everyday life, Rosler builds here on an effect similar to that of the Berlin group Kommune 1 with their flyer about a fire in a Brussels department store in 1967. In this flyer, Kommune 1 satirically calls the fire an advert ising gag for the USA, invoking the crackling Viet Nam feeling (of be ing there and burning too), that everyone should be able to share (Enzensberger, 2004). This satire strategy also serves the idea of maki ng injustice in developing countries directly comprehensible to people in major cities, making it palpable, in fact bringing the war home. If institutional critique is taken not merely as a label for works by the four or five protagonists that are always named (Michael Asher, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Hans Ha acke, John Knight), but rather, as Hito Steyerl sees it in her essay in this volume, as a new social movement within the art field, then this would certainly include Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula. Questioning ones own role within the art system, linking this with concrete socio-political themes such as the criticism of US foreign policy and the criticism of the ideology of the idyllic private sphere of the family, suggests a version of institutional critique that goes beyond the constrai nts of art institutions like galleries and museums. It also covers more than Isabelle Graw (2005: 50) includes with the differentiated, ex panded concept of institution, of corporate culture and celebrity culture. It is more to be understood as a criticism of the institutions of capi talist society altogether, in the sense
Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique 47 of Marcuses utopian idea that the ai m is to work towards a society in which people are no longer enslaved by institutions. To this extent, Steyerls analysis also needs to be ex panded: institutional critique should not only be understood as a movement within the art field, but also as one that would hardly be imaginable without the social movements outside the art field. Artistic internationalism in other words a certain orientation of the subject matter of artistic work that nevertheless first develops in the confrontation with the viewers pr oves to be the link between art movement and social movement. With regard to this functional link, works like those described above are to be defended against both their proponents and their opponents. One of these opponents, for example, is Jacques Rancire (2006), who lists Roslers aforementioned work as an example of art that too strongly disambiguates the relation between illusion and reality. In works like Bringing the War Home, according to Rancire, the sense of fiction is lost (Rancire, 2006: 91) which should, however, be central to the real politics of art. Rancire (2006: 87) argues for a politics of art that is proper to the aesthetic regime of art and which precedes the political action of the artist.6 He maintains that the confrontation between two heterogeneous elements as demonstrated in Roslers collages, is characteristic of critical art. However, it tends to turn itself into a mere inventory of things. In turn, this taking inventory leads to the exact opposite of what was intended: the politics of art is reduced to welfare and ethical imprecision (Ran cire, 2006: 96), or it dissolves into the indeterminacy[...] that is called ethics today (Rancire, 2006: 99). According to Rancire, art is po litical neither because of its message nor in the way that it represents social structures, ethnic and sexual identity or political struggles. Art is primarily political in creating a space-time sensorium, in certain modes of being together or apart, of defining being inside or outside, opposite to or in the middle of (Rancire, 2006: 77). Yet Rosler and Sekulas works are by no means situated exclusively in the tradition of explicitly polit ical agitation art like that of John Heartfield or Diego Rivera. However, even their works denigrated by Rancire as directly political art could prove to be suitable for creating a sensorium, if, for example, the indeterminate specification of being together and apart, etc. is interpreted as a relationship, as it exists
Jens Kastner 48 and is thematized in the relationshi p between work and viewer. For only very few political works are limited solely to conveying messages and representing social/political conf licts. Michelangelo Pistoletto, for instance, in his mirror painting ( Vietnam 1962/1965) linked the art historical issue of the work-viewer relationship with political explicitness. Two persons, painted on tissue paper and cut out along their contours, are glued to a reflecting metal panel, a woman in a red trench coat and a man in a black suit with a tie, each of them holding a stick with a demo banner attached to the upper ends, on which the letters ...NAM can be read. Looking at this life-sized picture, viewers are immediately drawn into the depi ction of the scene, obviously an anti-Vietnam War demonstration. Here Pistoletto positions the viewers both opposite the picture as such and also in front of a political statement, directly involving them in both. According to Tony Godfrey (2005: 114), this artistic stance, which places the viewer in a direct relationship to the image, is a crucia l characteristic of Conceptual Art. In the case of Sekulas Two, three, many ... (terrorism) and Roslers Bringing the War Home this kind of context is established through the internationalism of 1968. This internationalism involves more of a political stance than a (for example, Trotskyist) program, an awareness of the ways in which social battles in different regions of the world are mutually conditioned. Due not least of all to the anti-colonial liberation movements, with the student movements of the 1960s an antiauthoritarian internationalism in contrast to the proletarian internationalism of the early tw entieth century gained more significance theoretically as well[...] In fact, this was one of its central components. Internationalism and 68 formed a unit and must therefore also be treated as such (Hierlmeier, 2002: 23). This internationalist perspective was realized in the social movements in this way perhaps even more than in th e art field, within which it was criticized as obscuring western hegemony.7 The artistic internationalism is all the more to be emphasized also in response to proponents of Roslers Bringing the War Home such as Beatrice von Bismarck (2006). Martha Rosler continued her series in 2004 under the same title, but instead of motifs from the Vietnam War she used motifs from the US invasi on of Iraq. Although there is no dismissing that Roslers Iraq series is a self-quotation, as Bismarck (2006: 239) puts it, a comparable point of reference in terms of subject matter is certainly the rhetoric of freedom used by the US government
Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique 49 both then and now. Nor is the observation false that the more garish choice of colors in comparison with the original series enhances the impression of uncanniness, understood in Freuds sense as a return of the repressed. Especially in Roslers photographic collages, in which the images of war break into the familiar homeyness, the home sweet home, as what is only seemingly alien, this return of the repressed finds a striking visual form (Bismarck, 2006: 240). Yet one crucial criterion still remains unmentioned in this account, specifically the integration of artistic work in the strategies and practices of the social movements. Although the US invasion of Iraq was accompanied by worldwide protests, this movement has for the most part long since ceased to operate in the context of a Guevara-like antiimperialism. The tactic of bringing the war home in any way was completely absent. And there is a reason for this: filling this slogan with emancipatory significance seems to be entirely unthinkable for social movements at a time when al-Qaida-style Islamic terror has struck Western capitals on many levels, on the one hand, and on the other is installed as a scenario of general threat. The war, or a war, has long since come home, has arrived in the Western urban centers, into which it first had to be brought in the 1960s and 1970s, although its effects are not those intended by movement actors in the 1960s. On the contrary, instead of enlightenment, awaren ess, empathy, emancipatory radicalization, an institutional and psychological insulation is taking place. The boom in security technologies and policies had already signaled the end of the urban guerr illas in the 1970s. Failing to reflect on this end and merely attempting to pick up from where it stopped thirty years earlier must give rise to perplexity in the case of an artist like Rosler. For she herself had emphasized how relatively the measures of aesthetic coherence are applied to photographic practice (Rosler, 1999: 122), and lamented a contemporary tendency to detach art works from their context. Although a link is made in the continuation of the series to an ethical issue, and the standpoi nt of the viewer in relation to the depicted situation is questioned, the political context of the emancipatory social movement and it s strategies remains omitted both in the work and in the critic ism formulated by Bismarck. With respect to the first phase of institutional critique, Sabeth Buchmann (2006) states that, in terms of the call for cultural and social relevance, it diverged from the histor ical avant-garde in that a different way of dealing with these issues was cultivated: the radius of action was
Jens Kastner 50 and is no longer society, according to Buchmann (2006: 22), but rather specific public, institutional and/or media fields. Neither the depreciation of the aest hetic value of artistic works like Two, three, many ... (terrorism) or Bringing the War Home nor their political de-contextualization does justice to their specific criticism. The works discussed here do indeed thematize cen tral issues that are immanent to the art field, which are linked to th e questions and concerns of social movements with the normative turn, so to speak, of being embroiled in the production of the social world: if I am part of the historical process, then according to one of the central ideas of foco theory, which has been criticized as being voluntaristic it ultimately only depends on my determination (and that of a few others) to reverse the conditions. Both Rancire and Bismarck are building on a false focus: Rancire with his criticism of the un ambiguousness that he claims exists in the confrontation with social c onditions and destroys or does not enable the alleged politics of aestheti cs; and Bismarck (and even Rosler herself with her continuation) by ov erlooking this tie with the social context. It would be better to build instead on the hinge function between artistic issues and political forms of social movements. Tying into the art historical question of the relationship between artist, work and viewer would make it possible to draw from what Bourdieu called the space of possibilities, which def ines and delimits the universe of both what is thinkable and what is unthinkable (Bourdieu, 2001: 373). In this sense, the development of artistic internationalism that is based on and rooted in the battles of the social movements and their practices of solidarity represents a potential expansion of this space. Notes 1. On the connection between Vienna Actionism and the student movement, see Foltin (2004: 58) and Raunig (2007: 187-202). 2. Nina Tessa Zahner (2005) has analyzed the emergence of a third field, a sub-field of expanded production in the context of the Pop Art of the 1960s. This conjoins elements from both pol es in the figure of the artist as entrepreneur. The lasting transformations of the field that go back to these developments would have to be discussed separately. 3. The autonomy of the art field that Bourdieu speaks of is thus not to be confused with the autonomy of the art work that is asserted by modernist art theory. Bourdieus whole theory ultimately aims to unmask the
Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique 51 autonomy of the art work as an ideolo gy. Both Graws slightly disgusted statement about the dominance of money on the one hand and Zahners (2005: 290) recognition of Pop Art on the other, which credits Warhol for, among other things, having pointed ou t the ideological content of the art that claims to be autonomous, are based on this misunderstanding. 4. Bourdieu (2003: 141) speaks of a space with two dimensions and two forms of struggle and history: between the pure and the commercial pole there is the question of the legitimacy an d the status of art; at another level the recognition of the works and the conflicts between young/new and old/established artists is at stake. 5. The first pictures of the series were published about 1970 as contributions to a magazine called Goodbuy to all that (No. 10), placed next to an article by the Angela Davis Committee in Defense of Women Prisoners. 6. Rancire also decisively rejects the social conditions of judgments of taste and their integration in the symbolic struggles of a society that Bourdieu developed in Distinction (1982). He describes Bourdieus demystification of the pure aesthetic gaze as a cheap alliance between scientific and political progressive thinking, yet he has nothing to counter this with but the assertion of a singular form of freed om and indifference[...], which joined aesthetics with the identification of what art is at all (Rancire, 2006: 79). It would be interesting to discuss whether this is the reason why Rancire, as Christian Hller (2006: 180) stresses, is to be regarded currently in the context of left-wing cultural circles as most wanted. 7. For example, Rasheed Araeens (1997: 100) criticism in 1978: The myth of the internationalism of western art must be destroyed now[...] Western art expresses exclusively the characteristics of the west[...] Western art is not international. It is only a transatlanti c art. It only reflects the culture of Europe and North America. The current internationalism of western art is no more than a function of the political and economic power of the west, which imposes its values on other people. In an international context it would therefore be more appropriate to speak of an imperialistic art.
53 7 Extradisciplinary Investigations: Towards a New Critique of Institutions Brian Holmes What is the logic, the need or the desire that pushes more and more artists to work outside the limits of their own discipline, defined by the notions of free reflexivity and pure aesthetics, incarnated by the gallerymagazine-museum-collection circuit, and haunted by the memory of the normative genres, painting and sculpture? Pop art, conceptual art, body art, performance and video each marked a rupture of the disciplinary frame, already in the 1960s and 70s. But one could argue that these dramatized outbursts merely imported themes, media or expressive technique s back into what Yves Klein had termed the specialized ambiance of the gallery or the museum, qualified by the primacy of the aesthetic and managed by the functionaries of art. Exactly such arguments were launched by Robert Smithson in 1972 in his text on cultur al confinement (Smithson, 1996), then restated by Brian ODoherty in his theses on the ideology of the white cube (ODoherty, 1986). They still have a lot of validity. Yet now we are confronted with a new series of outbursts, under such names as net.art, bio art, visual geography, space art and database art to which one could add an archi-art, or ar t of architecture, which curiously enough has never been baptized as such, as well as a machine art that reaches all the way back to 1920s constructivism, or even a finance art whose birth was announced in the Casa Encendida of Madrid just last summer. The heterogeneous character of the list immediately suggests its application to all the domains where theory and practice meet. In the artistic forms that result, one will always find remains of the old
Brian Holmes 54 modernist tropism whereby art designates itself first of all, drawing the attention back to its own operations of expression, representation, metaphorization or deconstruction. Independently of whatever subject it treats, art tends to make this self-reflexivity its distinctive or identifying trait, even its raison dtre, in a gesture whose philosophical legitimacy was established by Immanuel Kant. But in the kind of work I want to discuss, there is something more at stake. We can approach it through the word that the Nettime project used to define its collective ambitions. For the artists, theorists, media activists and programmers who inhabited that mailing list one of the important vectors of net.art in the late 1990s it was a matter of proposing an immanent critique of th e Internet, that is, of the technoscientific infrastructure then in the course of construction. This critique was to be carried out inside the netw ork itself, using its languages and its technical tools and focusing on its characteristic objects, with the goal of influencing or even of directly shaping its development but without refusing the possibilities of distribution outside this circuit.1 Whats sketched out is a two-way movement, which consists in occupying a field with a potential for shaking up society (telematics) and then radiating outward from that specia lized domain, with the explicitly formulated aim of effecting change in the discipline of art (considered too formalist and narcissistic to escape its own charmed circle), in the discipline of cultural critique (consid ered too academic and historicist to confront the current transformations) and even in the discipline if you can call it that of leftist acti vism (considered too doctrinaire, too ideological to seize the o ccasions of the present). At work here is a new tropism and a new sort of reflexivity, involving artists as well as theorists and activists in a passage beyond the limits traditionally assigned to thei r practice. The word tropism conveys the desire or need to turn towards something else, towards an exterior field or discipline; while the notion of reflexivity now indicates a critical return to the departure point, an attempt to transform the initial discipline, to end its isolation, to open up new possibilities of expression, analysis, cooperation and commitment. This back-and-forth movement, or rather, this transformative spiral, is the operative principle of what I will be calling extradisciplinary investigations. The concept was forged in an attempt to go beyond a kind of double aimlessness that affects cont emporary signifying practices, even
Extradisciplinary Investigations 55 a double drift, but without the revolutionary qualities that the Situationists were looking for. Im thinking first of the inflation of interdisciplinary discourses on the academic and cultural circuits: a virtuoso combinatory system that f eeds the symbolic mill of cognitive capital, acting as a kind of suppl ement to the endless pinwheels of finance itself (the curator Hans-Ulric h Obrist is a specialist of these combinatories). Second is the state of indiscipline that is an unsought effect of the anti-authoritarian re volts of the 1960s, where the subject simply gives into the aesthetic solicitations of the market (in the neoPop vein, indiscipline means endlessl y repeating and remixing the flux of prefabricated commercial images ). Though they arent the same, interdisciplinarity and indiscipline have become the two most common excuses for the neutralization of sign ificant inquiry (Holmes, 2001). But there is no reason to accept them. The extradisciplinary ambition is to carry out rigorous investigations on terrains as far away from art as finance, biotech, geography, urbanism, psychiatry, the electromagnet ic spectrum, etc., to bring forth on those terrains the free play of the faculties and the intersubjective experimentation that are characteristic of modern art, but also to try to identify, inside those same domains, the spectacular or instrumental uses so often made of the subversive liberty of aesthetic play as the architect Eyal Weizman does in exempl ary fashion, when he investigates the appropriation by the Israeli and US military of what were initially conceived as subversive architectural strategies. Weizman challenges the military on its own terrain, with his maps of security infrastructures in Israel; but what he brings back are elements for a critical examination of what used to be his exclusive discipline (Weizman, 2007). This complex movement, which never neglects the existence of the different disciplines, but never lets itself be trapped by them either, can provide a new departure point for what used to be called institutional critique. Histories in the Present What has been established, retrospectively, as the first generation of institutional critique includes figures like Michael Asher, Robert Smithson, Daniel Buren, Hans Haac ke and Marcel Broodthaers. They examined the conditioning of their own activity by the ideological and economic frames of the museum, with the goal of breaking out. As Stefan Nowotny and Jens Kastner show in their essays in this section of this volume, these artists had a str ong relation to the anti-institutional
Brian Holmes 56 revolts of the 1960s and 70s, and to the accompanying philosophical critiques. The best way to take their specific focus on the museum is not as a self-assigned limit or a fetishizat ion of the institution, but instead as part of a materialist praxis, lucidly aware of its context, but with wider transformatory intentions. To find out where their story leads, however, we have to look at the writing of Benjamin Buchloh and see how he framed the emergence of institutional critique. In a text entitled Conceptual Art 1962-1969, Buchloh (1990) quotes two key propositions by Lawrence Weiner. The first is A Square Removed from a Rug in Use and the second, A 36x 36 Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall (both 1968). In each it is a matter of taking the most self-referen tial and tautological form possible the square, whose sides each repeat and reiterate the others and inserting it in an environment marked by the determinisms of the social world. As Buchloh writes: Both interventions while maintaining their structural and morphological links with formal tr aditions by respecting classical geometry inscribe themselves in the support surfaces of the institutions and/or the home whic h that tradition had always disavowed On the one hand, it dissipates the expectation of encountering the work of art only in a specialized or qualified location On the other, neither one of these surfaces could ever be considered to be independent from th eir institutional location, since the physical inscription into each particular surface inevitably generates contextual readings. (Buchloh, 1990) Weiners propositions are clearly a version of immanent critique, operating flush with the discursive and material structures of the art institutions; but they are cast as a purely logical deduction from minimal and conceptual premises. They just as clearly prefigure the symbolic activism of Gordon Matta-Clarks anarchitecture works, like Splitting (1973) or Window Blow-Out (1976), which confronted the gallery space with urban inequality and racial di scrimination. From that departure point, a history of artist ic critique could have led to contemporary forms of activism and technopolitical resear ch, via the mobilization of artists around the AIDS epidemic in late 1980s. But the most widespread versions of 1960s and 70s cultural history never took that turn. According to the subtitle of Buchl ohs famous text, the teleological movement of late-modernist art in the 1970s was heading from the
Extradisciplinary Investigations 57 aesthetics of administration to the cr itique of institutions. This would mean a strictly Frankfurtian vision of the museum as an idealizing Enlightenment institution, damaged by both the bureaucratic state and the market spectacle. Other histories could be written. At stake is the tense double-bind between the desire to transform the specialized cell (as Brian ODoherty described the modernist ga llery) into a mobile potential of living knowledge that can reach out into the world, and the counterrealization that everything about this specialized aesthetic space is a trap, that it has been instituted as a form of enclosure. That tension produced the incisive interventions of Michal Asher, the sledgehammer denunciations of Hans Haacke, the pa radoxical displacements of Robert Smithson, or the melancholic humo r and poetic fantasy of Marcel Broodthaers, whose hidden mainspring was a youthful engagement with revolutionary surrealism. The first thing is never to reduce the diversity and complexity of artists who never voluntarily joined into a movement. Another reduction comes from the obs essive focus on a specific site of presentation, the museum, whether it is mourned as a fading relic of the bourgeois public sphere, or exalted with a fetishizing discourse of site specificity. These two pitfalls lay in wait for the discourse of institutional critique, when it took explicit form in the United States in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was the period of the so-called second generation. Among the names most often cited are Renee Gr een, Christian Philipp Mller, Fred Wilson and Andrea Fraser. They pursued the systematic exploration of museological representation, examin ing its links to economic power and its epistemological roots in a colonial science that treats the Other like an object to be shown in a vitrine. But they added a subjectivizing turn, unimaginable without the influen ce of feminism and postcolonial historiography, which allowed them to recast external power hierarchies as ambivalences within the self, opening up a conflicted sensibility to the coexistence of multiple modes and vectors of representation. There is a compelling negotiation here, particularly in the work of Renee Green, between specialized discourse analysis and embodied experimentation with the human sensorium. Yet most of this work was also carried out in the form of meta-reflections on the limits of the artistic practices themselves (mock museum displays or scripted video performances), staged within institut ions that were ever-more blatantly corporate to the point where it beca me increasingly hard to shield the
Brian Holmes 58 critical investigations from their own accusations, and their own often devastating conclusions. This situation of a critical process taking itself for its object recently led Andrea Fraser to consider the arti stic institution as an unsurpassable, all-defining frame, sustained through its own inwardly directed critique (Fraser, 2005). Bourdieus deterministic analysis of the closure of the socio-professional fields, mingled with a deep confusion between Webers iron cage and Foucaults desire to get free of oneself, is internalized here in a governmenta lity of failure, where the subject can do no more than contemplate his or her own psychic prison, with a few aesthetic luxuries in compensation. Un fortunately, it all adds very little to Broodthaers lucid testament (1987) formulated on a single page in 1975. For Broodthaers, the only alternative to a guilty conscience was self-imposed blindness not exactly a solution! Yet Fraser accepts it, by posing her argument as an attempt to defend the very institution for which the institution of the avant-gard es self-criticism had created the potential: the institution of critique (Fraser, 2005: 282). Without any antagonistic or even ag onistic relation to the status quo, and above all, without any aim to change it, whats defended becomes little more than a masochistic variat ion on the self-serving institutional theory of art promoted by Arthur Danto, George Dickie and their followers (a theory of mutual and circular recognition among members of an object-oriented milieu, misleadingly called a world). The loop is looped, and what had been a large-scale, complex, searching and transformational project of 1960s and 70s art seems to reach a dead end, with institutional consequences of complacency, immobility, loss of autonomy, capitulation before various forms of instrumentalization. Phase Change The end may be logical, but some desire to go much further. The first thing is to redefine the means, the media and the aims of a possible third phase of institutional criti que. The notion of transversality, developed by the practitioners of inst itutional analysis, helps to theorize the assemblages that link actors and resources from the art circuit to projects and experiments that dont exhaust themselves inside it, but rather, extend elsewhere (Guattari, 2003). These projects can no longer be unambiguously defined as art. Th ey are based instead on a circulation between disciplines, often involving the real critical reserve of marginal or counter-cultural positions social movements, political associations,
Extradisciplinary Investigations 59 squats, autonomous universities which cant be reduced to an allembracing institution. The projects tend to be collective, even if they also tend to flee the difficulties that collectivity involves by operating as networks. Their inventors, who came of age in the universe of cognitive capitalism, are drawn toward complex social functions which they seize upon in all their technical detail, and in full awareness that the second nature of the world is now shaped by technology and organizational form. In almost every case it is a political engagement that gives them the desire to pursue their exacting investigations beyond the limits of an artistic or academic discipline. But their analyt ic processes are at the same time expressive, and for them, every comple x machine is awash in affect and subjectivity. It is when these subject ive and analytic sides mesh closely together, in the new productive and political contexts of communicational labor (and not just in meta-reflections staged uniquely for the museum), that one can speak of a third phase of institutional critique or better, of a phase change in what was formerly known as the public sphere, a change which has extensively transformed the contexts and modes of cultural and intellectual production in the twenty-first century. An issue of Multitudes co-edited with the Transform web-journal, gives examples of this approach.2 The aim is to sketch the problematic field of an exploratory practice that is not new, but is definitely rising in urgency. Rather than offering a curato rial recipe, we wanted to cast new light on the old problems of the closure of specialized disciplines, the intellectual and affective paralysis to which it gives rise, and the alienation of any capacity for democrat ic decision-making that inevitably follows, particularly in a highly complex technological society. The forms of expression, public interventi on and critical reflexivity that have been developed in response to such conditions can be characterized as extradisciplinary but without fetish izing the word at the expense of the horizon it seeks to indicate. On considering the work, and particularly the articles dealing with technopolitical issues, some will probably wonder if it might not have been interesting to evoke the name of Bruno Latour. His ambition is that of making things public, or more precisely, elucidating the specific encounters between complex technical objects and specific processes of decision-making (whether these are de jure or de facto political). For that,
Brian Holmes 60 he says, one must proceed in the form of proofs, established as rigorously as possible, but at the same time necessarily messy, like the things of the world themselv es (Latour and Weibel, 2005). There is something interesting in Latours proving machine (even if it does tend, unmistakably, toward the academic productivism of interdisciplinarity). A concern for how things are shaped in the present, and a desire for constructive interference in the processes and decisions that shape them, is characteristic of those who no longer dream of an absolute outside and a total, year-zero revolution. However, its enough to consider the artists whom we invited to the Multitudes issue, in order to see the differences. Hard as one may try, the 1750 km Baku-TiblisiCeyhan pipeline cannot be reduced to the proof of anything, even if Ursula Biemann did compress it into the ten distinct sections of the Black Sea Files .3 Traversing Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey before it debouches in the Mediterranean, the pipeline forms the object of political decisions even while it sprawls beyond reason and imagination, engaging the whole planet in the ge opolitical and ecological uncertainty of the present. Similarly, the Paneuropean tran sport and communication corridors running through the former Yugosl avia, Greece and Turkey, filmed by the participants of the Timescapes group initiated by Angela Melitopoulos, result from the one of the most complex infrastructureplanning processes of our epoch, ca rried out at the transnational and transcontinental levels. Yet these precisely designed economic projects are at once inextricable from the conflicted memories of their historical precedents, and immediately delivered over to the multiplicity of their uses, which include the staging of ma ssive, self-organized protests in conscious resistance to the manipulation of daily life by the corridorplanning process. Human beings do not necessarily want to be the living proof of an economic thesis, carri ed out from above with powerful and sophisticated instruments incl uding media devices that distort their images and their most intimate affects. An anonymous protesters insistent sign, brandished in th e face of the TV cameras at the demonstrations surrounding the 2003 EU summit in Thessalonica, says it all: ANY SIMILARITY TO AC TUAL PERSONS OR EVENTS IS UNINTENTIONAL.4 Art history has emerged into the pr esent, and the critique of the conditions of representation has spilled out onto the streets. But in the
Extradisciplinary Investigations 61 same movement, the streets have taken up their place in our critiques. In the philosophical essays that we included in the Multitudes project, institution and constitution always rhyme with destitution.5 The specific focus on extradisciplinary artistic practices does not mean radical politics has been forgotten, far from it. Today more than ever, any constructive investigation has to raise the standards of resistance. Notes 1. See the introduction to the anthology ReadMe! (Bosma, 1999). One of the best examples of immanent critique is the project Name Space by Paul Garrin, which aimed to rework the domain name system (DNS), which constitutes the web as a navigable space (Bosma, 1999: 224-9). 2. See Extradisciplinaire, online at http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/ 0507. 3. The video installation Black Sea Files by Ursula Biemann, done in the context of the Transcultural Geographies project, has been exhibited with the other works of that project at Kunst-Werk e in Berlin, December 2005 February 2006, then at Tapies Foundation in Barcelona, March May 2007; published in Franke (2005). 4. The video installation Corridor X by Angela Melitopoulos, with the work of the other members of Timescapes, has been exhibited and published in Franke (2005). 5. See Stefan Nowotnys essay on destitut ion in the last section of this volume, as well as Pechriggl (2007).
63 8 Louise Lawlers Rude Museum* Rosalyn Deutsche On the brink of World War II, Virginia Woolf advised women to remember, learn from and use derisi on, of which they had long been objects (Woolf, 1938: 6). Three Guineas Woolfs classic essay of ethicopolitical thought, counts derision among the great un-paid teachers of women, educating them about the behavior and motives of human beings, that is, about psychology, a field that Woolf, unlike many leftist critics today, did not separate from that of the political.1 Before writing the essay, Woolf had received reque sts for contributions from three organizations, each promoting a differe nt cause: womens education, the advancement of women in the professions, and the prevention of war. At least that is the books conceit. She responded by linking the three movements, making clear that for her the goal of feminism was not just equality for women but a better, less wa r-like, society. Since, she argued, the professions as currently practiced encourage qualities that lead to war grandiosity, vanity, egoism, patriotism, possessiveness, combativeness women must not simply become educated professionals but do so differently: How can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings; human beings, that is, who wish to prevent war (Woolf, 1938: 75)? Women can help, she suggested, by refusing to be deferential to the esteemed professions and instead considering it their duty to express the opinion that professional customs and rituals are contempt ible. And what better way to accomplish this task than through humor, which, as Mignon Nixon notes, following Freud, discharges psychic energy, has pleasurable effects, and promotes the defiance of deference? (Nixon, 2005: 67).
Rosalyn Deutsche 64 Woolfs humor was of the type that Freud called tendentious. It served the purpose of criticizing authority and, like hostile jokes, exploited something ridiculous in our enemy (Freud, 1960: 123-5). Here is a sample from her observations on professional dress: How many, how splendid, how extremely ornate they are the clothes worn by the educated man in his public capacity! Now you dress in violet; a jeweled crucifix swings on your breast; now your shoulders are covered with lace; now furred with ermine; now slung with many linked chains set with precious stones. No w you wear wigs on your heads; rows of graduated curls descend to your necks. Now your hats are boatshaped, or cocked; now they mount in cones of black fur. (Woolf, 1938: 19) Woolf derided mens professional trappings because of the hierarchical distinctions of rank and the will to power they signified: Every button, rosette and stripe seems to have some symbolical meaning. Some have the right to wear plain buttons only; others rosettes; some may wear a single stripe; others three, four or fi ve. And each curl or stripe is sewn on at precisely the right distance apart it may be one inch for one man, one inch and a quarter for another (Woolf, 1938: 19). Distinctions of dress, like adding ti tles before or letters after names, were designed to show superiorit y and to arouse competition and jealousy. Therefore the professional fashion system encouraged a disposition towards war (Woolf, 1938: 19). Today, some critics find Woolfs hope that women, by virtue of their earlier exclusion, might change the professions outdated, irrelevant to a historical period in which wo men have to a considerable extent entered public life. Yet latent in Wool fs plea what necessitates it is, I think, the thoroughly timely reco gnition that the opposite is just as likely to occur: women can identify with the masculinist position. It would be perfectly possible for a woman to occupy the role of a representative man, as Homi Bhabha puts it, explaining why he uses the term masculinism not to designate the power of actual male persons but to denote a position of power authorized by the claim that one comprehends and represents the so cial totality (Bhabha, 1992: 242). Masculinism understood in this sense is a relationship that can be sustained only by declaring war on othe rness, by subjugating that which cannot be fully known. Woolf believed th at cultural institutions cultivate the triumphalist relationship. Alert, like her anti-fascist contemporary
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 65 Walter Benjamin, to the barbarism underlying every document of civilization (Benjamin, 1969: 256), she approached such documents warily. No venerated institution was safe from her derision. She even listed the British Royal Academy of Art, the institution that safeguarded standards of professional competence in art, among the great battlegrounds, whose members, she said, seem to be as bloodthirsty as the profession of arms itself (Woolf, 1938: 63). Woolf was referring to combative behavior between the male academicians, but the Academy inflic ted another kind of violence, one that can be discerned in Johann Zoffanys portrait of the academicians, Life Class at the Royal Academy (1772), a painting that has been an icon of feminist art history since Linda Nochlin used it to illustrate her landmark essay, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? (Nochlin, 1971).2 Nochlin treats Zoffanys conversation piece as a document of sexism, a work that shows an aspect of historical discrimination against women in the arts. Zoffany presented the academicians gathered around a nude male model at a time when women were excluded from access to the male nude and therefore from history painting, the most prestigiou s genre in the Academys hierarchy. He solved the problem of including the Academys two female founding members, Angelica Kauffmann and Mary Moser, by portraying them as painted portraits hanging on the wall. Directly facing the nude model, lit by a chandelier, stands Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Academy and author of the Discourses on Art, which he addressed as lectures to the Gentlemen of the Royal Academy between 1769 and 1790. But, according to the critic Naomi Schor, Reynolds does not just name a historical person; it is also the proper name for the idealist aesthetics he promotes (Schor, 1987: 17). The cl assical busts and figures strewn around Zoffanys life class allude to this aesthetic. Schor concludes that Reynolds classical discourse, in which genius consists of the ability to comprehend a unity what Reynolds enthusiastically called A WHOLE and in which the feminine is associated with the detail, which endangers masculine wholeness, cannot be separated from the discourse of misogyny (Schor, 1987: 5). Idealist approaches to art are hard ly limited to eighteenth-century classicism; they have remained aliv e for centuries in the widespread notion that the work of art is a complete, autonomous entity that elevates viewers above the continge ncies of material life. Zoffanys Academicians then, is not just a period piece that documents womens
Rosalyn Deutsche 66 historical exclusion from art ed ucation. It also records the transformation of the female figure fr om artist to image, from viewing subject to visual object, to what feminists two hundred years later theorized as a signifier of to-be-looked-at-ness (Mulvey, 1989: 14-26). That is, it documents the repres entational economy that Freud called fetishism, a perversion originating in the phallocentric attempt to triumph over the female body and it s supposed threat to wholeness. Zoffany unwittingly shows us that the aesthetic institution is a masculinist battleground an authorit arian rather than democratically agonistic realm in a somewhat di fferent sense than Woolf had in mind. So far I have argued that Woolfs feminist challenge to cultural institutions is not gender-exclusive Just as women can identify with masculine positions, men, who hist orically have occupied actual positions of power, can dis-identify with them. That is, there can be a non-phallic masculinity. Still, it is in teresting to note that when, in the 1970s and 80s, a group of mostly female artists, including Louise Lawler, entered art institutions in order to explore them as, precisely, battlegrounds, they did so differently than the first wave of institutioncritical artists.3 For whereas Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, and Michael Asher had drawn attention to the presence of economic and political power in the s eemingly pure and neutral space of the museum and to the way the museum embodies dominant ideology and so exercises discursive power, and whereas works like Broodthaers Dcor: A Conquest (1975) and Haackes MoMA Poll (1970) had, in different ways, specifically connected museums to war, the second wave such diverse artists as Lawler, Vi ctor Burgin, Andrea Fraser, Judith Barry, Silvia Kolbowski, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Fred Wilson, and Mary Kelly, among others at once extended and questioned the critique. Art historians have proposed a number of ways to distinguish between the work of the so-called fi rst generation of institutional critics and the second, postmodern gene ration, Lawler in particular: the second questions the authority of its own voice rather than simply challenging the authoritarian voi ce of museums, corporations, and governments (Foster, et al., 2004: 624); Lawler locates institutional power in a systematized set of presentational procedures, whereas Asher, Buren, Haacke, and Broodthears situated power in a centralized building or elite (Fraser, 1985: 123); Lawler explores not only the contextual production of meaning but, in deconstructive fashion, the
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 67 boundlessness of context (Linker, 1986: 99). Still another difference is that, unlike the first generation, feminist postmodernists were influenced by psychoanalysis and recognized to varying degrees the political importance of articulating relationships between psychical and social realms. Following in Woolfs footsteps, they approached institutions of aesthetic display not only as producers of bourgeois ideology but as spaces where dangerous, masculinist fantasies are solidified. Lawler may not have been an ex ponent of psychoanalytic feminism, but many of her photographs lead us into the heart of such solid wishes. And they do so with what Bi rgit Pelzer aptly calls a dose of derision (Pelzer, 2004: 32). Literary theorist Kenneth Gross uses the term solid wishes in The Dream of the Moving Statue a book about relationships between figural statues and fantasy, about statues as fantasies. Works of sculpture, wr ites Gross, are solid wishes, or vehicles of a wish for things that are solid (Gross, 1992: 198). It seems fitting, then, that some of the work s in which Lawler most astutely exposes the art institutions fant asy life are a group of photographs, taken in the late 1970s and early 80s, th at depict figural sculpture, and, in particular, classical and neoclassical statues, in museum settings Statue before Painting, Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Canova (1982) is exemplary. It served as the intr oductory image in Lawlers first published portfolio of the photographs she calls arrangements of pictures. The black-and-white portf olio, itself an arrangement of pictures, appeared in the Fall 1983 issue of the journal October. Lawlers arrangements depict art objects in their contexts of display, calling attention to the presentational apparatu s of specific arts institutions and, at the same time, to art as institution, a phrase coined by Peter Brger to refer to a more dispersed aesthetic apparatus: The concept art as an institution refers to the producti ve and distributive apparatus and also to ideas about art that prevail at a given time and that determine the reception of works (Brger, 1984: 22). In such works as Statue before Painting Lawler puts existing museologic al arrangements of artworks on display and makes visible the elements of the presentational apparatus, which, though authoritative, generally lie on the margins of the museum-goers visual and cognitive fi eld architecture, labels, vitrines, pedestals, guards, installation shots, catalogues, security systems, and so on. Lawler appropriates the museums arrangements and re-arranges them in a manner that recalls Freuds approach to dream interpretation,
Rosalyn Deutsche 68 an approach that re-arranges the space of the dream, bringing its peripheral elements, its details, into focus (and vice versa ) in order to analyze the dream-work that distorts the wish at the dreams core. While it is tempting to see Lawlers arrangements, with their fragmented objects, exaggerated details, and enigmatic juxtapositions, as dream scenarios, they might more accurately be regarded as analyses of the museums dreams, of the desire embodied in its arrangements. Lawler shot Statue before Painting, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, by Canova in New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art, from the vantage point of the museums Great Ha ll Balcony, where Antonio Canovas marble statue was then located. Th e statue occupied a position on the neoclassical museum buildings processional axis, which begins at the steps leading to the main entrance, continues through the Great Hall and central staircase both are ov erlooked by the balcony and culminates at the arched entrance to the galleries of European paintings. Perseus stood across from the entrance, beneath an echoing arch on the balcony. The museums official guid ebook describes it as a second, more refined version of a sculpt ure that, when first executed and exhibited in Canovas studio betw een 1770 and 1800, was acclaimed as the last word in the continuing pu rification of the Neoclassical style (Howard, 1994: 265). Like Reynolds, Canova, too, is a proper name for idealist aesthetics, whose patriarchal relations of sexual difference, observed in Zoffanys Life Class are concretized in the roughly contemporaneous Perseus Seen in Lawlers photograph from a low, oblique angle and radically cropped so that it is cut by the upper edge of the photograph, Canovas statue, its phallus, and its pedestal architectural equivalent of the pha llus occupy the forefront of the viewers vision. At the same time, pushed to the right edge of the image, the statue is dislodged from its central position, disrupting the Museums symmetrical arrangement. Behind Perseus, beyond the balconys balustrade, the staircase, flanked by colonnades of Corinthian columns, rises from the Great Hall be low and leads to the double arches through which visitors, after ascending the stairs, enter the collection of paintings. Framed by the arches hangs Giovanni Battista Tiepolos The Triumph of Marius (1729), the opening exhibit in the anteroom to the Museums history of Western painting Its upper portion is sliced by the lower edge of the sign inscri bed with the word paintings a mutilation that corresponds to that of the Perseus statue, which Lawler brings into visual alignment with the Tiepolo. In a second correspondence, the
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 69 colossal painting dwarfs its spectators, who look up at it in an attitude that rhymes with our own angle of vision of statue and phallus in Lawlers photograph. Lawler accentuates this point of view, placing her viewers in a position that mimics not only that of the depicted viewers of Tiepolo but that of a small child ca tching sight of its parents genitals. She thus suggests, perhaps unwitting ly, that the psychic life of the museum bears a relation to infantile fantasies. The juxtaposition of the spectators stance in front of the Ti epolo and Lawlers upward glance at Perseus literalizes both the deference with which art as institution treats works of art and the veneration with which classical antiquity regarded the phallus, defined as the figurative representation of the male organ. Drawing attention to the way the museums arrangement includes a prescribed position for viewers, one that enforces a certain mode of spectatorship, Lawler simultaneously, as we shall see, makes Perseus the butt of derision and consequently re -positions her audience, inviting them to defy deference. First, however, note one more sim ilarity between the Tiepolo and the Canova, this one on the level of thematic content: each depicts a violent conquest in which a male prot agonist establishes his authority by mastering difference racial and sexual respectively. Each glorifies war. In the Museums words, The Triumph of Marius shows the Roman general Gaius Marius in the victors chariot while the conquered African king Jugurtha walks before hi m, bound in chains The Latin inscription on the cartouche at the top translates, The Roman people behold Jugurtha laden with chains (Howard, 1994: 186). For his part, Canova portrays the classical hero Pe rseus holding aloft the head of Medusa, which he has just severed. Medusa, of course, is the female monster of classical mythology, w ho had snakes instead of hair and whose look turned men to stone. At the time, Medusas head had considerable currency among psychoanalytic feminists working in the visual arts, largely because in 1922 Freud had written a short essay about it and because in 1973, in an equally short text, You Dont Know What Is Happening, Do You Mr. Jones?, precursor to her famous Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Laura Mulvey had used Freuds interpretation as the basis of a theory of phallocentric investments in looking at images (Freud, 1968; and Mulvey, 1989: 6-13 and 14-26). Additionally, Medusa had become a symbol of feminist subv ersion of phallocentric mastery in such writing as Hlne Cixouss The Laugh of the Medusa of 1975 (Cixous, 1981:
Rosalyn Deutsche 70 245-64). Freud, as is well known, analyzed Medusas head as a fetish: an object visual, in this case of masc uline fixation that originates in fear of the female body, which is (mis)perceived as castrated, as missing the penis and, more importantly, the phallu s, signifier of the presence that makes the subject whole. For Freud, Medusas horrifying, decapitated head, surrounded by hair, symbolizes the female genitals and therefore the horror of castration. At the same time, it serves as a token of triumph over castration anxiety, an object that disavows and conquers the threat of sexual difference. Vi sually, it contains multiple penis replacements in the form of Medusa s snake-hair, and on the narrative level, it turns men to stone, thus sti ffening them and reassuring them of the presence of the penis. Mulvey argued that just as Medusas head is an image not of a woman but, rath er, of the threatened masculine subject restored to wholeness, so in a culture ordered by phallocentric categorizations of human beings, in which the feminine is equated with absence and loss, images of women have served, in various ways, as selfimages of men, or, more importantly, of the narcissistic masculine ego. The feminist discourse about fetish ism was concerned with the nature of masculine subjectivity, especially as it is reinforced by vision. When October published Lawlers Arrangement of Pictures, it miscaptioned Statue before Painting calling it Statue before a Painting. The editorial correction the inse rtion of the indefinite article a stemmed from a failure to get the titles joke, to understand that it is a joke. For the real title mimics the phrase ladies before gentlemen, which is part of and here stands for an idealizing patriarchal discourse that supposedly places women on pedestals. In conjunction with the photograph, the title links patriarchal ideals and idealist aesthetics, which the neoclassical statue represents, suggesting that there is an alignment of sexual and aesthetic hierarchies in the museum. The image reverses the order of genders in the original phrase, for here it is a male statue a phallic figure that stands before a painting and occupi es a pedestal. But the reversal only reveals the true gender relations behind idealizing arrangements, showing that in the patriarchal visual field the true exhibit is always the phallus, as Mulvey puts it (Mulvey, 1989: 13). To an extent, Lawler retrieves the artistic practice, prevalent among certain sculptors in the mid-1950s to late 60s, of what Mignon Nixon, in her superb study of Louise Bourgeois, calls posing the phallus. This practice, Nixon (2005: 66, 236) argues targeted the phallus with humor, which has the political effect of undermining it as a patriarchal symbol,
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 71 and inverts the seriousness of fetishism.4 Yet Lawlers work differs from that of the earlier artists since, in stead of sculpting a phallus, she uses her customary techniques of appropr iation and montage of making meaning by juxtaposition and alignm ent (Lawler, 2000) to pose a found phallus, one of the many readymade phalluses that proliferate in art museums, like snakes on Medusas head. Posing the phallus in the context of an institution-critical work, in which Perseus takes up a position as guardian of the Mu seums painting collection, Statue before Painting exhibits the role played by art as institution in reproducing sexual norms and maintaining the patriarchal overvaluation of the phallus.5 For one thing, the photograph comments on the historical exclusion of female artists from the museum and, for another, it alludes to the male-dominated revival of traditional painting that was legitimated by art institutions in the 1970s and 1980s. But Lawlers photograph plays a bigger joke on the Metropolitan. It hints that what underlies, what precedes or comes before the museums aesthetic arrangements is the desire solidifie d in both the form and subject matter of Canovas statue of Perseus. The idealized, neoclassical sculpture, substitute for an ideal body, materializes the phallocentric fantasy of the self, a self that in its dream of autonomy disavows its constitutive exclusion of and relation to others. In fact, Jacques Lacan, writing about the mirror stage as the matrix of narcissistic ego-formation, described the mirror image external reflection of an idealized self as the statue in which man projects himself (Lacan, 1977: 1-7). And the iconography of Perseus and Medusa foregrounds, as does the story told in Tiepolos painting, the subordination and conquest of otherness the warlike disposition necessary to maintain the narcissistic fiction. The phallic statue metonymically alludes to the triumphalist subject positioned by the museums idealist aesthetic. Statue before Painting deprives Perseus of his token of triumph; Medusas head is pushed outside the frame, Perseus is decapitated, and it would seem that Medusa, herself a kind of sculptor, has turned him to stone. Of course, this also fulfills his wish, soothing as well as testifying to his castration anxiety. Still, th e most striking feature of the photograph is its attack on the integrity of the male body. The photographic cut challenges the sculptures closure, exposing it to its outside. According to Christian Metz the cut, which produces the offframe effect in photography, is a figure of castration because it marks the place of an irreversible absence, a place from which the look has
Rosalyn Deutsche 72 been diverted forever (Metz, 1999: 217). Lawlers cut directs the diverted look to three objects that remain in the frame and that, as fetishes, represent attempts to establish integrity and disavow vulnerability pedestal, phallus, and museum label, an element that visually echoes the phallus and no doubt bears the artists proper name, the Name-of-the-Father, Lacans name for the patriarchal order of sexual difference.6 Precisely by giving prominence to these elements, Lawler takes away their authority,7 as she does that of the grand staircase, itself an elevating structure that symbolically lifts visitors, just as the pedestal lifts the work of art, above the contingencies of everyday social life, encouraging them to take up the self-regarding position that Georges Bataille described in his definition of the museum as, precisely, a mirror: It is not just that the museums of the world as a whole today represent a colossal accumulation of riches but, more important, that all those who visit these museums represent without a doubt the most grandiose spectacle of a humanity liberated from material concerns and devoted to contemplation. We need to recognize that the galleries and the objects of art form only the container, the content of which is constituted by the visitors.The museum is the colossal mirror in which man finally contemplates himself in every respect finds himself literally admirable, and abandons himself to the ecstasy expressed in all the art magazines. (Bataille, 1971: 239) Statue before Painting reveals and refuses the museums positioning of the spectator, and it does so with su preme economy. Like a really good tendentious joke that, according to Freud, allows the teller and the recipient or, in our case, artist and vi ewer, to enjoy the pleasure of being impolite to the great, the dignifie d and the mighty (Freud, 1960: 125). Indeed, Lawler calls one of her later arrangements of pictures, really an arrangement of statues, The Rude Museum (1987). Rude refers to the photographs subject matter a museum devoted to the work of nineteenth-century French sculptor Fr anois Rude but it can also be read as a pun that alludes to the barbaric fantasies fostered in art institutions and, more, to the acts of impropriety with which Lawler herself, in this and other photographs, re-arranges museums and, as I have argued, exposes their fantasies. That is, it alludes to Lawlers own rude museums.
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 73 The actual Rude Museum, located in the transept of St. Etienne church in Dijon, consists of casts of works by Rude, a great patriot and admirer of the antique, though given in his sculpture to romantic gestures. Dominating the upper por tion of Lawlers photograph is a plaster cast of Rudes most famous work, the high stone relief on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Departure of the Volunteers in 1792 popularly known as La Marseillaise (1833-36). Near the center of the relief, which is severed by the frame of Lawlers picture so that the enormous figure of an especially militaristic Liberty hovering above cannot be seen, is a classically inspired male nude marching off to war. Like Canovas Perseus, Rudes soldier is beheaded by Lawlers cropping of the photograph, a cut that foreshadows th e fate of later victims of the French Revolution. In the foreground, its foreshortened backside turned to the viewer, crouches a large hippopotamus sculpted by Franois Pompon (1855-1933). Stretchi ng up its head and opening its mouth, it gawks at the heros exposed phallus. The hippo could be regarded as yet another target of Lawlers humor, but I prefer to think of it as her ally, a repoussoir element that not only pushes back the principle scene but functions, by virtue of its comical deference (and open jaws), as a formidable threat to the phallic figure as a rude viewer in the Rude Museum, like Lawler and those willing to listen to her tendentious joke. For derisive impropriety, also made possible with the help of wild animals, nothing surpasses Birdcalls (1972/1981), an audiotape on which Lawler squeals, squawks, chirps, twitters, croaks, squeaks, and occasionally warbles the names primarily the surnames of twentyeight contemporary male artists, from Vito Acconci to Lawrence Weiner.8 Recorded by Terry Wilson, the ta pe sounds as though different species of birds are calling out to one another in some natural setting, say, a forest or garden. In 1984, An drea Miller-Keller, a curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, one venue where the work has been played, nicknamed it Patriarchal Roll Call .9 When Lawler made the tape she was unaware of the precise difference between the two types of sound signals made by birds: calls and songs. For the title, she select ed calls because she thought that song connoted pleasure for the bird whereas call seemed more strident.10 Her choice turned out to be hi ghly accurate, in keeping with the intention and execution of the work, since it is typically male birds that burst into songs, which are complex patterns of notes used to
Rosalyn Deutsche 74 attract mates or establish territory. Calls, by contrast, consist of one or more short, repeated notes that convey messages about specific situations. If, for instance, a predator enters the immediate environment, birds give distress, alarm, and rally calls to signal the presence of a threat and to coordinate group activity against it (Kress, 1991: 80). Similarly, Lawlers Birdcalls originated in an act of self-defense. In the early 1970s, she tells Douglas Crimp, my friend Martha Kite and I were helping some artists on one of the Hudson River pier projects. The wome n involved were doing tons of work, but the work being shown was only by male artists. Walking home at night in New York, one way to feel safe is to pretend youre crazy or at least be really loud. Martha and I called ourselves the due chanteusies, and wed sing off-key and make other noises. Willoughby Sharp was the impresario of the project, so wed make a Willoughby Willoughby sound, trying to sound like birds. This developed into a series of bird calls based on artists names. So, in fact, it was antagonistic. (Lawler, 2000) The birdcalls started out as a humorous anti-predator response to the presence of two dangers in Kite and Lawlers habitat: physical attack in the streets of the city and discrimi nation in the alternative art world. Drawing a perhaps inadvertent parallel with real birds, Lawler describes the first birdcalls as instinctual (Lawler, 2000). Interestingly, however, bird calls, including alarm calls, ar e not just involuntary, impulsive emotional displays but systems of communication that can be controlled (Marler and Evans, 1995: 138). Their frequency is affected by the presence or absence of companions a phenomenon that ornithologists call the audience effect. Some bird sounds are learned (Nottebohn, 2005: 146); some sentinel birds even give false alarms. The birds capacity for control and subversion accords with Lawlers tactics in Birdcalls for while she situates herself in nature, which patriarchal systems of representation and sexual difference have traditionally opposed to culture and associated with the feminine, she treats it not as a place of confinement but, rather, of retreat and concealment, a refuge where she can escape Mulveys to-be -looked-at-ness and what Michel Foucault called the trap or cage of visibility (Foucault, 1979: 200). Occupying the place prescribed for wome n (and in this regard it should be noted that bird is slang for a young woman), but only in jest literally playing nature she appropriates it as a base from which to make forays, using sound as ammunition, into the territory of culture and to
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 75 introduce tension into its hierarchical gendered dichotomies, destroying their seeming naturalness. Heard but not seen, she challenges the proper name, the narcissistic ego, the Na me-of-the-Father, and therefore the art worlds relations of sexual difference, commenting on the fact that at the time she made Birdcalls artists with name recognition were predominantly male (Lawler, 2000). Lawler produced the first publicly presented tape of Birdcalls in 1981, when, as Crimp has pointed out, the upcoming Documenta 7 (1982) was an object of much art-world discu ssion (Crimp, 1993: 238). Rudi Fuchs, the international exhibitions dir ector, planned to reaffirm the phallocentric, aestheticist notion of the work of art as a complete totality transcending its conditions of existence, and he therefore gave pride of place to neo-expressionism a male-dominated trend of the 1970s and 1980s, which to a considerable extent represented a regression to aestheticism.11 In preparatory versions of Birdcalls Lawler had included only minimalist, post-minimalist, conceptual, and pop artists. Now, she added neo-expressionist painters Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, Anselm Kiefer, and Julian Schnabel, targeting the new upsurge in masculine name-recognition with feminist name-calling Birdcalls is an anomaly in Lawlers production, her only sound piece, unless one counts the two versions of A Movie Will Be Shown Without the Picture (1979 and 1983). Yet its derisive tactics are quintessential Lawler. When she plays Birdcalls during presentations of her work, Lawler simultaneously projects an arrangement of slides. Some bear the names of the artists who are being called. These are interspersed with slides of both her own and the male artists wo rks. Following the title slide, the first, introductory image is always Statue before Painting, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, by Canova and this arrangement indicates that there is a commonality between tape and photog raph. Both, for example, use mimicry. In 1982, Lawler wanted to produce a record of Birdcalls and planned to decorate the jacket with a photograph of a parrot that excellent mimic looking suspiciously over its shoulder and set against a brilliant red background.12 The record was never made, but, subsequently, Lawler used the parrot photograph in other contexts, titling it Portrait (1982). Given its initial connection to Birdcalls it might be regarded as a self-portrait, in camouflage. Except that Lawlers mimicry is far from mechanical. It is, rather, one of the skills she has honed to warn audiences away from th e danger of a position of passive
Rosalyn Deutsche 76 agreement13 with the art institutions grandiose fantasies, whose warlike effects, as Virginia Woolf knew, are no laughing matter.14 Notes First published in Louise Lawler, Twice Untitled and Other Pictures (looking back) Wexner Center for the Arts and MIT Press, 2006. 1. As Silvia Kolbowski asks about the rejection of psychoanalysis in current criticism: Is psychoanalysis too feminine ? i.e. too weak to serve political analysis? (2005: 18). 2. Zoffanys painting is alternatively titled Academicians of the Royal Academy 3. It could also be argued that Lawler entered the artistic profession differently insofar as she has been reticent about taking on the conventional role of the artist. See Lawler (2000). 4. Nixons thesis differs from mine insofar as, using Melanie Klein, she argues that Bourgeois, Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama and Eva Hesse posed the phallus as, specifically, a part-object a literal body part. 5. Nixon (2005: 71) suggests that Bourgeois did something similar when, in 1982, she posed with her sculpture Fillette (1968) for a portrait produced by Robert Mapplethorpe for her retrosp ective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. 6. To the list of fetishes that Lawler highlights, we could add Perseuss feet in the winged sandals that Athena and Herm es lent him to aid in the conquest of Medusa. Recall that Freud speculated th at the foot fetish originates in the fact that the womans feet are the last thing the child sees before he catches sight of her genitals. The foot fetish represents the male subjects denial of the traumatic sight. 7. Lawler (2000) has used the phrase Prominence given, authority taken, which is the title of an important interview she did with Douglas Crimp. The phrase can be read as a description of the way the museum positions the artists, or, conversely, of Lawl ers resistance to that positioning. 8. The twenty-artists are Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, Gilbert & George, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Neil Jenney, Donald Judd, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Kosuth, Sol Lewitt, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mario Merz, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Julian Sc hnabel, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner. 9. This information comes from an email from the artist, 22 April 2005. 10. From a conversation with Lawler, 26 February 2005.
Louise Lawlers Rude Museum 77 11. Lawler was not invited to participate in Documenta 7, but Jenny Holzer and the alternative gallery Fashion Moda asked her to contribute to their collaborative work: a trailer stationed at the entrance to the show, which would sell objects and souvenirs. For an account of the stationary that Lawler ended up selling at Fashion Modas installation, see Crimp (1993). 12. Lawler wanted to sell the record at Jenny Holzer and Fashion Modas trailer, which was installed at the entrance to Documenta 7. 13. From an artists brochure distributed at Projects: Louise Lawler, Enough New York, The Museum of Modern Art, September 19-November 10, 1987. 14. A recent photographic work by Lawler repeats the warning, which has become especially urgent at a time when the Bush administration has banned media images of coffins returning from the Iraq War and has treated certain, particularly Arab, deaths as un-grievable. Lawlers image, depicting the detached wings of a cl assical statue of Nike, goddess of victory, is titled Grieving Mothers
79 9 Toward a Critical Art Theory Gene Ray Critical theory rejects the given worl d and looks beyond it. In reflection on art, too, we need to distinguish between uncritical, or affirmative, theory and a critical theory that rejects the given art and looks beyond it. Critical art theory cannot limit itself to the reception and interpretation of art, as that now exists under capitalism. Because it will recognize that art as it is currently institutionalized and practiced business as usual in the current art world is in th e deepest and most unavoidable sense art under capitalism, art under the domination of capitalism, critical art theory will rather be oriented toward a clear break or rupture with the art that capitalism has brought to dominance. Critical art theorys first task is to understand how the given art supports the given order. It must ex pose and analyze arts actual social functions under capitalism. What is it doing this whole sphere of activity called art? Any critical theory of ar t must begin by grasping that the activity of art in its current forms is contradictory. The art world is the site of an enormous mobilization of creativity and inventiveness, channelled into the production, reception, and circulation of artworks. The art institutions practice various kinds of direction over this production as a whole, but this direction is not usually directly coercive. Certainly the art market exerts pressu res of selection that no artist can ignore, if she or he hopes to make a career. But individual artists are relatively free to make the art they choose, according to their own conceptions. It may not sell or make them famous, but they are free to do their thing. Art, then, has not relinquished its historical claim to
Gene Ray 80 autonomy within capitalist society, and today the operations of this relative autonomy remain empirically observable. On the other hand, a critical theorist is bound to see that art as whole is a stabilizing factor in social life. The existence of an art seemingly produced freely and in gr eat abundance is a credit to the given order. As a luxurious surplus, art remains a jewel in powers crown, and the richer, more splendid and exuberant art is, the more it affirms the social status quo. The material reality of capitalist society may be a war of all against all, but in art the utopian impulses that are blocked from actualization in everyday life find an orderly social outlet. The art institutions organize a great variety of activities and agents into a complex systemic unity; the capitalist art system functions as a subsystem of the capitalist world system. Without doubt, some of these activities and artistic products are openly critical and politically committed. But taken as a whole the art system is affirmative (Marcuse, 1968), in the sense that it converts the totality of art works and artistic practices the sum of what flows th rough these circuits of production and reception into symbolic legitimation (to borrow Pierre Bourdieus apt expression for it) of class society (Bourdieu, 1993: 128). It does so by simultaneously encouraging arts au tonomous impulses and politically neutralizing what those impulses produce. Art simulates experiences of freedom, reconciliation, joy, solidarity and uninhibited communication and expression that are bl ocked in class society. Art is a form of compensation for the injustices, repressions and selfrepressions, and impoverishments of experience that characterize everyday life under capitalist modernity. As compensation art captures and renders harmless rebellious energies and dissipates pressures for change. In this way art is an ideological support for the social status quo and contributes to the reproduction of class society. Frankfurt Modernism The Frankfurt theorists pioneered and elaborated this dialectical understanding of art. Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno working in close relation to others, including Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch and Siegfried Kracauer, and certainly stimulated by the different Marxist approaches of Bertolt Brecht and Georg Lukcs have shown us how art under capitalis m can, at the very same time, be both relatively autonomous and inst rumentalized into a support for existing society. Every work of art, in Adornos famous formulation, is
Toward a Critical Art Theory 81 both autonomous and fait social (Adorno, 1997: 5). Every artwork is autonomous insofar as it asserts itself as an end-in-itself and pursues the logic of its own development without regard to the dominant logic of society; but every work is also a socia l fact in that it is a cipher that manifests and confirms the reality of society, understood as the total nexus of social relations and proce sses. In the autonomous aspect of arts double character, the Frankfurt theorists saw an equivalent to the intransigence of critical theory. Fr ee autonomous creation is a form of that reach for an un-alienated humanity described luminously by the young Karl Marx. As such, it always contains a force of resistance to the powers that be, albeit a very fragile one. Their attempts to rescue and protect this autonomous aspect led the Frankfurt theorists to an absolute in vestment in the forms of artistic modernism. For them, and above all for Adorno, the modernist artwork or opus was a sensuous manifestati on of truth as a social process straining toward human emancipation. The modernist work and to be sure, what is meant here are the ma sterworks, the zenith of advanced formal experimentation is an enactment of antagonisms, an unreconciled synthesis of un-unifia ble, non-identical elements that grind away at each other (Ado rno, 1997: 176). A force-field of elements that are both artistic and so cial, the artwork indirectly or even unconsciously reproduces the conflicts, blockages and revolutionary aspirations of alienated everyday life. They saw this practice of autonomy threatened from two direct ions. First, from the increasing encroachments of capitalist rationality into the sphere of culture processes to which Horkheimer and Adorno famously gave the name culture industry (Horkheimer and Adorno, 2002). Second, from political instrumentalization by the Communist Parties and other established powers claiming to be anti-capitalist. It was in response to his perceptions of this second threat that Adorno issued his notorious condemnation of politicized art (Adorno, 1992). Ostensibly responding to Jean-Paul Sartres 1948 call for a littrature engage Adornos position in fact had already been formed by the interwar context: the liquidation of the artistic avant-gardes in the USSR under Stalin and the Comintern s adoption of socialist realism as the official and only acceptable form of anti-capitalist art. Art that subordinates itself to the direction of a Party was for Adorno a betrayal of arts force of resistance. He took the position that art cannot instrumentalize itself on the basis of political commitments without
Gene Ray 82 undermining the autonomy on which it depends and thereby undoing itself as art. Autonomous (modernist) art is political, but only indirectly and only by restricting itself to th e practice of its proper autonomy. In short, art must bear its contradicti on and not attempt to overcome it. As the culture industry expanded and consolidated its hold over everyday consciousness and, indeed, as struggl es of national liberation and urban uprisings politicized campuses over the course of the 1960s, Adorno responded by hardening his position. There can be little doubt that the given artistic autonomy is threatened by the two tendencies Ad orno pointed to. But there is little doubt either that his conception of the problem forecloses its possible solution. Culture industry and official socialist realism were not the only alternatives to the production of autonomist artworks. But Adorno in effect couldnt see these other alternatives because he had no category for them. The most convincing of thes e alternatives constituted itself by terminating its ties of dependency on the art institutions, abandoning the production of traditional art object s, and relocating its practices to the streets and public spaces. Th e formation of th e Situationist International (SI) in 1957 was an annou ncement that this alternative had reached a basic theoretical and practical coherence. Adorno remained blind to it as he continued to polish the Aesthetic Theory until his death in 1969. So did his heir, Peter Brger, who would publish Theory of the Avant-Garde in 1974. An English translation of Brger s book appeared in 1984. Since then, it has functioned mainly as a theoretical support for modernist positions within Anglophone (i.e., globalized) art and cultural discourse. It still tends to be cited by those happy to counter-sign any possible death certificate of the avant-gard es, and by those dismissive of attempts to develop practices in oppos ition to dominant institutions. In the present context, as the essays in the first section of this volume make clear, we would only need to read Andrea Fraser (2005) to see how Brger is still brought in as an authority purportedly demonstrating the futility, infantilism and bad fait h of all practices aimed directly against or seeking radically to break with established institutional power. For Fraser, Brger, together with Pierre Bourdieu, becomes a resource for the justification of an ostensibly more mature and effective position within the institutions. However, ev en when it is called criticality, resignation remains resignation. It is not my purpose here to engage with specific readings of Brger or even to represent fairly the
Toward a Critical Art Theory 83 development of Brgers own positi ons since 1974. What follows is a critique of the arguments advanced in Theory of the Avant-Garde, since it is this text, in its English edition, that is operative today in support of a resigned and melancholic modernism. An d in this regard, it is crucial to see Adorno standing behind Brger While in other respects, Adorno remains a key critical thinker for me, his rigid investments in artistic modernism are a political problem and, as such, are to be critically resisted. Toward a Different Autonomy With both Adorno and Brger, the problem can be traced to a theoretically unjustified overinvestme nt in the work-form of modernist art. Brger basically rewrites the hist ory of the artistic avant-gardes as the development of the work-as-for ce-field so dear to Adorno. For Adorno, the avant-garde is modernist art, identity pure and simple. Brger makes an important advance beyond this identification by grasping that the historical avant-gardes had repudiated artistic autonomy in their efforts to relink art and life and that their specificity is to be located in this repudiation. But although Brger works hard to differentiate his analys is from Adornos, he returns to the fold, so to speak, by judging this av ant-garde attack on the institution of autonomous art to be failure, a false supersession ( falsche Aufhebung) of art into life. The avant-garde intended the supersession ( Aufhebung ) of autonomous art by leading art over into a practice of life ( Lebenspraxis). This has not taken place and presumably cannot take place within bourgeois society unless it be in the form of a false supersession ( falschen Aufhebung ) of autonomous art. (Brger, 1 984: 53-4, trans. modified) The only successful result was an unintended one: after the historical avant-gardes, according to Brger, a transformation takes place in the work-form of art. The organic, harm onized work of traditional art gives way to the (non-organic, allegorical) work-form in which disarticulated elements are held together in a fragmentary unity that refuses the semblance of reconciliation: Paradoxically, the avant-gardiste intention to destroy art as an institution is thus realized in the work of art itself. The intention to revolutionize
Gene Ray 84 life by returning art to its praxis tu rns into a revolutionizing of art. (Brger, 1984: 72) In other words, art cannot repudiate its autonomy, but it can go on endlessly repudiating its own traditions, so long as it does so in the form of modernist works. This pronouncement of failure and false supersession is far too hasty. I will return to this point later. Here I want to question this investment in the institutionalized autonomy of art by contrasting it to the autonomy c onstituted through a conscious break with institutionalized art. The Situationist alternative to art under capitalism was a more advanced and theoretically conscious breakout than the often partial and hesitant revolts of the early avant-gardes. Founded in 1957 but continuing in many respects the project of the Lettrist International (LI) from which many of its founding members came, the SI was a Parisbased network of mostly-European na tional sections active until its self-dissolution in 1972. Formally co mbining the LI group around core members Guy Debord, Michle Bernstein and Gil Wolman and the Imaginist Bauhaus around Asger Jorn, Constant and Giuseppe PinoGallizio, and soon assimilating the Munich-based Spur group around Hans-Peter Zimmer, Heimrad Prem and Dieter Kunzelmann, the SI undertook a radical collective critique of post-war commodity capitalism and the art system flourishing arou nd a restored modernism. Drawing the practical conclusions, they transformed the SI within four years from a grouping of artists into a re volutionary organization of cultural guerrillas. The SIs critical process of progressive detachment from the art institutions culminated in an in ternal prohibition on the pursuit of an art career by any of its members. Situationist practice was radically politicized, but is not reducible to a simple or total instrumentalization. We can agree with Adorno that artist s who paint what the Party says to paint have given up their autonomy; as apologists for the Central Committees monopoly on autonomy, they are no more than instruments for producing compromised works. But the SI was a group founded on the principle of autonomy an autonomy not restricted as privilege or specialization, but one that is radicalized through a revolutionary process openly aiming to extend autonomy to all. The SI did not recognize any Party or othe r absolute authority on questions pertaining to the aims and forms of revolutionary social struggle. Their autonomy was critically to study reality and the theories that would
Toward a Critical Art Theory 85 explain it, draw their own conclusions and act accordingly. In its own group process, the SI accepted nothing less than a continuous demonstration of autonomy by its members, who were expected to contribute as full participants in a collective practice. This process didnt always unfold smoothly (what process does?). But the much-criticized exclusions carried out by the group by and large reflect the painful attainment of theoretical coherence and are hardly proof of a lack of autonomy. Instrumentalization is the wrong category for a conscious and freely self-generating (i.e., autonomous) practice. Moreover, the Situationists were even more hostile than Adorno to official Communist parties and woul d-be vanguards. Their experiments in collective autonomy were far remo ved and openly critical of the servility of party militants. Alienation cant be overcome, as they put it, by means of alienated forms of st ruggle (Debord, 1994: 89). Their critical processing of revolutionary theory and practice was plainly much deeper than Adornos and was lived, as it must be, as a real urgency. They carried out an autonomous appropriation of critical theory, developed in a close dialectic with their own radical cultural practices and innovations. As a result, true enough, they ceased to produce modernist artworks. But they never claimed to have gone on with modernism; they claimed rather to have surpassed this dominant conception of art (Debord, 1994: 129-47) My point is that Situationist practice however you categorize or evaluate it was certainly no less autonomous than the institutiona lized production of modernist artworks favored by Adorno. If anyt hing, it was far more autonomous and intransigently critical. In compar ison to Situationist practice, which continues to function as a real fact or of resistance and emancipation, Adornos claims for Franz Kafka an d Samuel Beckett seem laughably inflated. On the Supersession of Art Situationist art theory, then, does not suffer from the categorical and conceptual impasses that led Frankfur t art theory to draw the wagons around the modernist artwork. For the Situationists, art oriented toward radical social change could no longer be about the production of objects for exhibition and passive spectator ship. Given the decomposition of contemporary culture and in passing lets at least note that there is much overlap in the analyses of cu lture industry and the theory of spectacular society attempts to maintain or rejuvenate modernism are
Gene Ray 86 a losing and illusory enterprise. With regard to the content and meaning of early avant-garde practice, the crit ical art theory developed by the SI in the late 1950s and early 60s and concisely summarized by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle in 1967 is basically consistent with Brgers later theorization. But the tw o theories diverge irreconcilably in their interpretation of the consequences. The rise of capitalism the tendency to reduce everything and everyone to commodity status and exchange value was the material condition for the relative autonomy of culture; the bourgeois revolution was the political last act of a material process that had pulverized traditional bases of authority and re leased art from its old function of ritual unification. For th e Situationists, as art became conscious of itself as a distinct sphere of activity in the new order, it logically began to press for the autonomy of its sphe re. But self-consciousness also brought awareness of the impotence of this autonomy as a form of social separation and insights into its new functions in support of bourgeois power. The avant-gardes of the early twentieth century responded with a practical demand that separation be abolished and autonomy be generalized through revolution. This far Brger is in agreement. But for him, the defeat of the revolutionary attempt to abolish capitalism makes the avant-garde breakout a failure that must be re-inscribed in the work-form of ar t, while for the Situationists this defeat is only one moment in a struggle that continues. For the SI, the logic of art necessarily first for and then against autonomous separation remains unchanged, and art can ma ke its peace with separation only by deceiving itself. Resigned returns to institutionalized art and to the empty, repetitive formalist experi ments of work-based modernism can only represent a process of decomposit ion: the end of the history of culture (Debord, 1994: 131). In political terms, there are at this point just two irreconcilable options: either to be enlisted in cu ltures affirmative function to justify a society with no justificati on (Debord, 1994: 138) or to press forward with the revolutionary process. The institutions will organize the prolongation of art as a dead thing for spectacular contemplation (Debord, 1994: 131-2, trans. modified ). The radical alternative is the supersession ( dpassement ; that is, Aufhebung ) of art. The first aligns itself with the defense of class power; the second, with the radical critique of society. Surpassing art means re moving it from institutional management and transforming it into a practice for expanding life here
Toward a Critical Art Theory 87 and now, for overcoming passivity and separation, in short for revolutionizing everyday life. There are of course possibilities for modest critical practices within the art institutions, but these can always be managed and kept within tolera ble limits. Maximum pressure on the given develops from a refusal of the art system as a whole openly linked to a refusal of the social totality. The history of the real avant-gardes, then, is not the history of artistic modernism, but the attainment of consciousness about the stakes an d the need for this overcoming The main defect of Brgers theorization can be located in his historical judgment on the early avant-gardes, because this judgment becomes a categorical foreclosure or blindness. For Brger, the conclusion that the early avant-gard es failed in their attempts to supersede art follows necessarily from the obvious fact that the institution of art continues. There can be no dialectical overcoming without the negating moment of an abolition: [I]t is a historical fact that the avant-garde movements did not put an end to the production of works of art, and that the social institution that is art proved resistant to the avantgardiste attack. (Brger, 1984: 56-7) Art is not abolished; therefore, no supersession. This leads Brger to declare that the early avant-gardes ar e now to be seen as historical. Henceforth, attempts to repeat the project of overcoming art can only be repetitions of failure ; such attempts by the neo-avant-garde, as Brger now names it, only serve to consolid ate the institutionalization of the historical avant-gardes as art: In a changed context, the resumption of avant-gardiste intentions with the means of avant-gardism can no longer even have the limited effectiveness the historical avant-gard es achieved.... To formulate more pointedly: the neo-avant-garde institutionalizes the avant-garde as art and thus negates genuinely avant-garde intentions. (Brger, 1984: 58). Marcel Duchamps gesture of signing a urinal or bottle drier was a failed attack on the category of individual production, but repetitions of this gesture merely institutionalized the ready-made as a legitimate art object (Brger, 1984: 52-7). The problem here is that Brger restricts his analysis to artworks and to gestures that conform to this category. That he comes close to perceiving that this may be a problem is hinted in those places where he
Gene Ray 88 uses the term manifestation ( Manifestation ) to refer to avant-garde practice: Instead of speaking of the avant-gardiste work ( Werk ), we will speak of avant-gardiste manifestation ( Manifestation ). A Dadaist manifestation does not have work character but is nonetheless an authentic manifestation of the artistic avant-garde. (Brger, 1984: 50) But soon it is clear that all forms of practice will in the end either be reduced to that category or else not recognized at all: The efforts to supersede art become artistic manifestations ( Veranstaltungen ) that, independently of their producers intentions, take on the character of works (Brger, 1984: 58). Brgers lim ited examples show that what he has in mind by manifestation are gestures that already fit the workform, such as Duchamps ready-mades or Surrealist automatic poems or at most provocations performed before an audience at organized artistic events ( Veranstaltungen ). Happenings and Situations Brger is aware of the happening form developed by Allan Kaprow and his collaborators beginning in 1958. But he classes happenings as no more than a neo-avant-garde repe tition of Dadaist manifestations, evidence that repeating historical provocations no longer has protest value. He concludes that art today can either resign itself to its autonomy status or organize events ( Veranstaltungen ) to break through that status; however, it cannot simply deny its autonomy status or suppose it has the possibility of direct effectiveness without at the same time betraying arts claim to truth ( Wahrheitsanspruch ). (Brger, 1984: 57, translation modified) Arts claim to truth, however, turns out to be a normative description of autonomy status itself. Following Adorno, Brger accepts that it is only arts limited exempt ion from the instrument al reason dominating everyday life that enables it to recogn ize and articulate the truth truth here being understood not as a correspondence between reality and its representation but as an implicit critico-utopian evaluation of reality Truth is not conformity to the given, but is rather the negative force of resistance generated by the mere existence of artworks that, obeying no logic but their own, refuse integration. Brgers argument here merely
Toward a Critical Art Theory 89 endorses Adornos. What it really says is: art cant give up its autonomy status without ceasing to be art. And the implication is that if art does manage to directly produce political and social effects, it thereby ceases to be art and is no longer his Brgers concern. But Brger cannot escape the problem in this way. He has already argued that the aim to produce direct effects (i.e., the transformation of art into a practice of life, a Lebenspraxis) is precisely what constitutes the avant-garde. So he cannot now give his theorization of the avant-garde permission to ignore the avant-gardes when they do attain their aim. He also attempts to elude the same problem with a variation on the argument. Pulp fiction in other words, the non-autonomous products of the culture industry are what you get when you aim at a supersession of art into life (Brger, 1984: 54). By 1974, there were serious counterexamples for Brgers argument; the SI even went so far as to spell everything out for him in its own books and theorizations. In this case the blindness is devastatin g, for the gap between contemporary avant-garde practice and the theory that purports to explain why it is no longer possible invalidates Brgers work. This would be the case only if the SI accomplished successful supersessions of art without collapsing into culture industry. The collapse hypothesis is easily dispensed with, since the SI did not indulge in commodity production. But putting Brgers theory to the test at least helps us to see that any eval uation of Situationist supersessions must take into account the fact th at the SI cut its ties to the art institutions and repudiated the wo rk-form of modernist art. For the same cannot be said of Brgers neo-avant-garde. Brgers examples he briefly discusses Andy Warhol an d reproduces images of works by Warhol and Daniel Spoerri (Brge r, 1984: 62, 58) are artists who submit artworks to the institutions for reception Even the case of Kaprow, who is not named but can be inferred from Brgers use of the term happening, doesnt disturb this commitment to the institutions. Kaprow wanted to investigate or blur the borders between art and life, but he did so under the gaze, as it were, of the institutions, to which he remained dependent. It is in this sense that every happening does indeed, as Brger claims, take on the character of a work. At most, the happening-form achieved an expansion of the dominant concept of art, but not its negation. Ditto, in this respect, for the case of Fluxus. The subsequent appearance of the new medium or genre of performance art confirms the institutional accep tance (and neutralizing assimilation)
Gene Ray 90 of this direction. (In my terms, th e result of a successful capture or assimilation of a rebellious form of practice is another expansion of the category of institutionalized modernist art.) The differences between the happening and the situation are decisive here. As an experimental event that never seriously put its autonomy status in question, the ha ppening staged interactions or exchanges of roles between artist an d audience but in safe, more or less controlled conditions, and ultima tely for institutional reception. Only when, as in the Living Theater in exile and also perhaps in JeanJacques Lebels notorious Festivals of Free Expression in the mid1960s, happening-like events sacrificed the element of institutional reception (and its implicit appeal for institutional approval) did they become something more threatening to the institution of art. On the other hand, the staging of personal risk or even physical danger through the elimination of the conventions that put limits on audience participation, as in Yoko Onos Cut Pieces of 1964-5 or Marina Abramovics Rhythm 0 (1974), are extremes of performance art that are indeed subject to the dialectic of repetition and the recuperation of protest pointed to by Brger. In contrast, a situation a constr ucted moment of de-alienated life that activates the social question does not depend on the dominant conception of art or its institutions to generate its meaning and effects. The Situationists themselves, who c ontinued to criticize contemporary art in the pages of their journal, in 1963 published an incisive discussion of the happening-form and differentiate d it from the practice of the SI: The happening is an isolated attempt to construct a situation on the basis of poverty (material poverty, poverty of human contact, poverty inherited from the artistic spectacle, poverty of the specific philosophy driven to ideologize the reality of these mome nts). The situations that the SI has defined, on the other hand, can only be constructed on the basis of material and spiritual richness. Which is another way of saying that an outline for the construction of situations must be the game, the serious game, of the revolutionary avant-garde, and cannot exist for those who resign themselves on certain points to political passivity, metaphysical despair, or even the pure and experienced absence of artistic creativity. (Situationist International, 2002: 147) Situations activate a revolutionary process, then, but do so by developing social and political e fficacy within the found context of
Toward a Critical Art Theory 91 material everyday life, rather than through a displacement of everyday elements and encounters into the contex t of institutionalized art. In this sense, situations are indeed direct by Brgers criteria. The so-called Strasbourg Scandal of 1966 is an ex ample of a successful situation that contributed directly to a process of radicalization culminating, in May and June of 1968, in a wildcat general strike of nine million workers throughout France. There moreover is little danger of mistaking or perversely misrecognizing this kind of event with an artwork or happening. The conclusion seems inesca pable that the SI renewed and not merely repeated to no effect the avant-garde project of overcoming art by turning it into a revolutionary practice of life. It follows that what Brger has na med the neo-avant-garde in order to dismiss it is not avant-garde at all. Those who, like the SI, renewed the avant-garde project were categorically excluded from the analysis. When the repudiation of instituti onalized art and the work-form are given their due weight as criteria, th en it becomes clear that the avantgarde project of radicalizing artistic autonomy by generalizing it into a social principle is a logic inherent or latent in the capitalist art system. It will be valid to activate this logic an d to actualize it by developing it in the form of practices just as long as the capitalist art system continues to be organized around an operative principle of relative autonomy. It will be valid, that is, for artistic ag ents to reconstitute the avant-garde project through a politicized break wi th the dominant institutionalized art. True, actualizations of the avant-garde logic cannot be mere repetitions. Each time, they must in vent practical forms grounded in and appropriate to the contemporary soci al reality that is their context. But because this logic amounts to a radical and irreparable break with institutionalized art, there is littl e risk that such a protest will be reabsorbed through yet another expansion of the dominant concept of art. The SI showed that art could be surpassed in this way in the very period in which, according to B rger, only impotent repetitions are possible.
II INSTITUTIONS OF EXODUS
95 10 Anthropology and Theory of Institutions Paolo Virno (Translated by Alberto Toscano) The Animal Open to the World There is no dispassionate inquiry on human nature that does not carry along with it, as a sort of clandestine passenger, at least the sketch of a theory of political institutions. The evaluation of species-specific instinct and drives, the analysis of a mind characterized through and through by the faculty of language, the recognition of the thorny relation between the single human animal and his fellows: all of this always harbors a judgment on the legitimacy of the Mi nistry of the Interior. And vice versa: there is no theory of political institutions worthy of the name which does not adopt, as its ba dly hidden presupposition, some representation or other of the traits that mark out Homo sapiens from the other animal species. To mention a high-school example, little is understood of Hobbess Leviathan if one disregards his On Man Let us avoid any misunderstandings: it would be unrealistic, even farcical, to believe that a model of the just society could be deducible from certain bio-anthropological invariants. Every political program is rooted in an unprecedented socio-histor ical context (religious civil wars in Hobbess case, a productive pro cess directly based on the power of verbal thought in our own), conf ronting a unique constellation of passions and interests. Nevertheless, collective action is really contingent precisely because, while it seizes hold of the most volatile reality, it takes charge, in unpredictable and changing ways, of what is not contingent, which is to say of bio-anthropological invariants themselves. The reference to human nature does not dull, but rather
Paolo Virno 96 accentuates to the highest degree, the particular and unrepeatable character of a political decision, the obligation to act in due time ( tempo debito) the perception that yesterday was perhaps too early and tomorrow will be too late. The link between anthropological reflection and the theory of institutions was formulated pithily by Carl Schmitt in the seventh chapter of his Concept of the Political : One could test all theories of state and political ideas according to their anthropology and thereby classify these as to whether they consciously or unconsciously presuppose man to be by nature evil or by nature good. The distinction is to be taken here in a rather summary fashion and not in any specifically moral or ethical sense. The problematic or unproblematic conception of man is decisive for the presupposition of every further political consideration, the answer to the question whether man is a dangerous being or not, a risky or a harmless creature [....] Ingenuous anarchism reveals that the belief in the natural goodness of man is closely tied to the radical denial of state and government. One follows from the other, and both fome nt each other [....] The radicalism vis--vis state and government grow s in proportion to the radical belief in the goodness of mans nature [....] What remains is the remarkable and, for many, disquieting diagnosis that all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil, i.e., by no means unproblematic but a dangerous and dynamic being. (Schmitt, 1996: 58) Were man a meek animal destined to agreement and mutual recognition, there would be no need at all for di sciplinary and coercive institutions. The critique of the State developed with varying intensity by liberals, anarchists and communists is fuelle d, according to Schmitt, by the prejudicial idea of the natural goodness of our species. An authoritative ( autorevole ) example of this tendency is represented today by the libertarian political stance of No am Chomsky: he advocates with admirable tenacity the dissolution of centralized apparatuses of power, ascribing to them the mortification of the congenital creativity of verbal language, the species-specific prere quisite that could guarantee for humanity a self-government devoid of established [consolidate] hierarchies. However, if as everything leads one to believe Homo sapiens is a dangerous, unstable and (self-)destructive animal, the formation of a unified political body that would exercise, in Schmitts terms, an unconditional monopoly over political decision seems inevitable in order to hold him back.
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 97 It is not wise to turn up ones philosophically sophisticated nose when faced with the crass alternativ e between man good by nature and man bad by nature. First of all, because Schmitt himself is well aware of such crassness: he expressly uses this shorthand to evoke the bioanthropological background which, indifferent as it is to nave moral qualifications, provokes instead no s hortage of theoretical conundrums. But it is not wise to turn up ones nose especially for another reason. It is precisely that seeming crassness that allows us to state, without beating about the bush ( senza giochi di parole ), the historical-naturalist hypothesis that, by unsettling the conceptual schema outlined by Schmitt, becomes truly interesting. It is the following: the risky instability of the human animal so-called evil, in brief does not in any sense imply the formation and perpetuation of that supreme empire which is state sovereignty. On the contrary. Radicalism hostile to the state and to the capitalist mode of production, far from presupposing the innate meekness of our species, can find its genuine basis in the full recognition of the problematic character of the human animal which is to say its indefinite and potential (in other words, also dangerous) character. The critique of the monopoly over political decision, and generally of instit utions whose rules function as compulsions to repeat, must rest precisely on the acknowledgment that man is bad by nature. The Excess of Drives and the Modality of the Possible What does the evil with which, a ccording to Schmitt, every theory of institutions that demonstrates a smidgen of realism regarding human nature consist in? He refers, albeit in passing, to the theses of the most democratic among the founding members of philosophical anthropology, Helmut Plessner. I will limit myself to recalling a few key ideas of philosophical anthropology considered as a whole, leaving aside any distinctions (which are in ot her respects significant) between the different authors. Man is problematic, according to Plessner and then Gehlen, because he is deprived of a definite environment, corresponding point by point to his psychosomatic configuration and the organization ( corredo ) of his drives. If the animal embedded in an environment reacts with innate assuredness to extern al stimuli, man, environmentally disoriented as he is, has to wrestle wi th a flood of suggestions devoid of a precise biological finality. Our speci es is characterized by its openness
Paolo Virno 98 to the world if we understand by world a vital context which is always unpredictable and partially undetermined. The overabundance of stimuli unconnected to any definite operative task elicits an enduring uncertainty and a disorientation which can never be entirely dispelled: in Plessners terms, the animal open to the world always maintains a nonadherence, or a detachment, with regard to the states of affairs and events he encounters. Openness to the world, with the rather high degree of undifferentiated potentiality it implies, is correlated, in terms of phylogeny, with low instinctual specialization, as well as with neoteny, which is to say the permanen ce of infantile characteristic even in adult subjects. These rather generic indications ar e sufficient, however, to qualify the dangerousness of Homo sapiens, which, according to Schmitt, is called upon by the modern theory of state sovereignty (and which, according to Freud, can only be attenu ated by a normative order entirely comparable to the compulsion to repe at). The overabundance of stimuli which are not biologically finalized and the consequent variability in behaviors are accompanied by a congenital fragility in the inhibitory mechanisms: the animal open to the world displays a virtually limitless intra-species aggressiveness, whose tr iggering causes are never reducible to a definite list (habitational density of a territory, sexual selection, etc.), since they are themselves infinitely variable (Lorenz, 2005: 297-336). Struggles for prestige alone, and even the notion of honor, have a very close relationship with the structure of drives of an environmentally dislocated living being, one which is, for this very reason, essentially potential in character. The lack of a univocal habitat makes culture into mans first nature (Gehlen, 1985: 109). However, it is precisely culture which, as an innate biological dispositif displays a fundamental ambivalence: it blunts danger, but, in other respects, it multiplies and diversifies the occasions of risk; it defends man from his very nature, sparing him the experience of his own terrifying plasticity and indeterminateness (Gehlen, 1985: 97), but, being itself the principal manifestation of this very plasticity and indeterminacy, it simultaneously favors the full unfolding of the natu re from which it was supposed to protect us. So-called evil can also be described by calling attention to some salient prerogatives of verbal lang uage. Problematic that is to say unstable and dangerous is the anim al whose life is characterized by Negation, by the modality of the possi ble, by infinite regress. These
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 99 three structures encapsulate the emot ive situation of an environmentally disoriented animal. Negation is inse parable from a certain degree of detachment from ones vital context, sometimes even from the provisional suspension of sensor y stimulus. The modality of the possible coincides with a biologically non-finalized excess of drives, as well as with the non-specialized char acter of the human animal. Infinite regress expresses the opening to th e world as chronic incompleteness, or even, but it amounts to the same thing, as the futile quest for that proportionality between drives and behaviors which is instead the prerogative of a circumscribed environment. The logical basis of metaphysics simultaneously ( a un tempo) outlines a theory of the passions. Pain, empathy, desire, fear, aggressiveness: these affects, which we share with many other animal species, are reconfigured from top to bottom by negation, by the modality of the possible, by infinite regress. Then there are those affects which, far from being reconfigured, are even provoked by these linguistic st ructures: boredom, for example, is nothing but the emotional correlate of infinite regress, of the petrified movement that seems to remove a lim it only to reconfirm it over and over again; or like anxiety (i.e., an indefinite apprehension, which is not bound to a specific state of affairs) is the emotive aspect of the modality of the possible. As for negation, it is precisely to it that we owe the eventuality of a failure of mutual recognition among co-specifics. The perceptual evidence this is a man loses its irrefutability once it is subjected to the work of the no: anthropophagy and Auschwitz are there to prove it. Placed at the bor ders of social interaction, the possibility of non-recognition also has repercussions at its centre and permeates its entire fabric. Language far from attenuating intra-specific aggressiveness (as Habermas and a number of contented philosophers assure us), radicalizes them beyond measure. Ambivalence The dangerousness of our species is coextensive with its capacity to accomplish innovative actions, that is actions that are capable of modifying established habits and norms. Whether were talking about the excess of drives or linguistic nega tion, of a detachment from ones vital context or of the modality of the possible, it is entirely obvious that what we are pointing to are not just the premises of subjugation and torture, but the prerequisites that permit the invention of factory councils or other democratic institut ions based on that topically political
Paolo Virno 100 passion which is friendship without fa miliarity. Both virtue and evil presuppose a deficit of instinct ive orientation and feed on the uncertainty experience in the faced of that which can be differently than it is. The bio-linguistic preconditions of so-called evil are the same as the ones that subtend virtue. Just think of negation again: it is capable of rupturing, or bracketi ng, the empathy among co-specifics guaranteed by the cerebral mechanism of mirror neurons (Gallese, 2003), making it possible to state some thing like this is not a man in the presence of a Jew or an Arab. We must add, however, that the possibility of a reciprocal mis-recognit ion is kept at bay (precisely in a virtuous way) by the same faculty of negating any semantic content that made it possible in the first pla ce. The public sphere woven of persuasive discourses, political conf licts, pacts, collective projects is nothing but a second negation with which the first one, that is, the syntagm non-man is always stifled again. In other words, the public sphere consists in a negation of the negation: not non-man. The patent identity between the species-specifi c resources enjoyed by virtuous innovation and the ones which nourish homicidal hostility does not authorizes us, even for a moment, to mi tigate evil, to consider it as a peripheral nuisance, or worse, as the indispensable impetus behind good. On the contrary: the only truly ra dical, which is to say inexorable and lacerating, evil is precisely and solely the evil that shares the same root as the good life. The complete co-extensiveness between threat and shelter allows us to place the problem of political inst itutions on a firmer basis. This, for at least two reasons. Above all, becaus e it introduces the suspicion that the apparent shelter (state sovereignty, for instance) constitutes, in some cases, the most intense manifestation of the threat (intra-specific aggressiveness). Furthermore, beca use it suggest a methodological criterion of some relevance: institut ions truly protect us if, and only if, they enjoy the same background conditions which, in other respects, do not cease to fuel the threat; if, and only if, they draw apotropaic resources from the openness to the world and from the faculty of negating, from neoteny and from th e modality of the possible; if, and only if, the exhibit at each and every moment their belonging to the category of that which can be different than it is. Wishing to defuse the little dialect ic scheme, according to which the (self-)destructive drives of the lingu istic animal would be destined to empower and perfect always and evermore the synthesis represented by
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 101 the state, contemporary critical t hought from Chomsky to French post-structuralism has deemed it c onvenient to expel from its horizon, together with dialectics, the very memory of those (self-)destructive drives. In so doing, contemporary critical thought risks corroborating Schmitts diagnosis that radicalism hostile to the State grows in proportion to the faith in the radical goodness of human nature. Everything suggests that we are dea ling with a dead end. Rather than abrogating the negative if only to avoid the dialectical grindstone, it is necessary to develop a non-dialectical understanding of the negative. With this end in mind, three k eywords show their usefulness: ambivalence, oscillation, the dist urbing. Ambivalence: friendship without familiarity, the authentic nub of a political community, can always turn into the familiarity loaded with enmity that fuels massacres between factions, gangs, tribes. There is no pacifying third term, which is to day a dialectical synthesis or superior point of equilibrium: each polarity refers back to the other; or rather, it already contains it within itself, it already lets us glimpse the other in its own fabric. Oscillation: the mutual recognition among co-specifics is marked by a ceaseless back-and-forth that goes from part ial achievement to incipient failure. Disturbing: what is frightening is never the unfamiliar, but only that with which we have the greatest acquaintance (the excess of drives, the infrastructure of verbal language) and which, in varying circumstances, has even exercised or could ex ercise a protective function. Murmurs in the Desert The relation between the redoubtable aspects of human nature and political institutions is without do ubt a meta-historical question. In order to confront it, it is not much use evoking the kaleidoscope of cultural differences. However, as always happens, a meta-historical question gains in visibility and weight only within a concrete sociohistoric conjuncture. The invariant, that is the congenital (self-) destructiveness of the animal who th inks with words is thematized as the argument of a function which is entirely made up of contingent crises and conflicts. In other words: the problem of intra-specific aggressiveness jumps to the foreground once the modern centralized state experiences a noteworthy decline, albeit one which is marked by convulsive restorative impulses and disquieting metamorphoses. It is in the midst of this decline, and because of it, that the problem of
Paolo Virno 102 institutions, of their regulative and st abilizing role, makes itself felt in all its bio-anthropological scope. It is Schmitt himself who acknowle dges, with patent bitterness, the collapse of state sovereignty. The erosion of the monopoly over political decision derives as much from the nature of the current productive process (based on abstract knowledge and linguistic communication), as from the social struggles of the sixties and seventies, and from the subsequent proliferation of forms of life refractory to a preliminary pact of obedience. It is not important here to dwell on these causes or to rehe arse other possible ones. What matter instead are the question marks that hover over the new situation. What political institutions can there be ou tside of the state apparatus? How is the instability and dangerousness of the human animal to be held in check, where we can no longer count on a compulsion to repeat in the application of the rules which are in effect at any given time? In what way can the excess of drives and the openness to the world act as a political antidote to the poisons they themselves secrete? These questions refer back to the thorniest episode in the Jewish exodus: the murmurs in the desert, that is a sequence of singularly bitter internecine struggles. Rather than submitting to the pharaoh or rising up against his rule, the Jews t ook advantage of the principle of the tertium datur seizing a further and unpreced ented possibility: to abandon the house of slavery and iniquitous labor. So they venture into a no mans land, where they experience unheard-of forms of selfgovernment. But the bond of solidarit y grows weak: the longing for the old oppression grows, the respect for ones comrades in the flight suddenly turns into hatred, violence an d idolatry run rampant. Schisms, hostility, slander, polymorphous aggression: this is how, on the slopes of the Sinai, there appears. The narrative of the exodus is perhaps the most authoritative theological-politic al model for the overcoming of the State. This is because it projects the possibility of undermining the pharaohs monopoly of decision by mean s of a resourceful subtraction; but also because, by drawing attenti on to the murmurs it rules out the idea that this subtraction is based on the natural meekness of the human animal. The exodus refutes Schmitt: a Republic that is no longer a state enjoys a very close and open relations hip with the innate destructiveness of our species.
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 103 Natural-historical Institutions Not only does radicalism hostile to th e State not hesitate in recognizing the (self-)destructive drives of th e living being endowed with speech, but it takes them so seriously that it deems unrealistic, or even intensely harmful, the antidote envisaged by th e theories of sovereignty. I would like to elaborate some further conjectures on the form and functioning of political bodies that, though they closely tackle the fearsome aspects of human nature, nevertheless appear incompatible with the monopoly over political decision. I will try to develop these conjectures without alluding to what could be, but focusing my gaze on what is always already there. In other words, I will neglect for the time be ing the need to invent political categories worthy of current social transformations, in order to fix my attention on two macroscopic an thropological or rather anthropogenetic realities which cons titute, to all intents and purposes, institutions: language and ritual. They are precisely the institutions that display with the greatest clarity all the prerequisites that my sequence of questions has just enumerated: acknowledgment of the impossibility of exiting the state of nature, back-and-f orth between regularity and rules, reciprocal commutability between matters of principle and matters of fact, an intimate acquaintance with ambivalence and oscillation. These two natural-historical institutions, of which I will say the bare minimum, are not, however, political instituti ons. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility of finding in our tr adition one or more conceptual devices that represent the properly political equivalent of language or ritual. In our tradition: even here, as you can see, I am not invoking what will come, but what has been. Concerning ritual, let me propose the following hypothesis: the manner in which it confronts and mitigates always anew the dangerous instability of the human animal has a correlate in the theologi cal-political category of katechon This Greek word, employed by the apostle Paul in the second letter to the Thessalonians and then repeatedly r ecovered by conservative doctrines means that which restrains, a force that always yet again defers the ultimate destruction. Now, it seems to me that concept of katechon as the political aspect of ritual practices is more than useful in order to define the nature and tasks of instit utions that no longer belong to the state. Far from being an intrinsic co g in the theory of sovereignty, as Schmitt and company claim, the idea of a force that restrains so-called evil, without however ever being capable of expunging it (since its
Paolo Virno 104 expunction would correspond to the end of the world, or better, to the atrophy of the openness to the world), is instead well suited to the antimonopolistic politics of exodus. Language Language has a pre-individual and supra-personal life. It concerns the individual human animal only to the extent that the latter belongs to a mass of speaking beings. Precisely as freedom or power, it exists solely in the relation between the members of a community. Bifocal sight, the autonomous possession of every isolated man, can further be considered, rightly, a shared endo wment of the species. Not so for language: in its case it is the sharing that creates the endowment; it is the between of inter-psychic relations which then determines, as if by resonance, an intra-psychic asset. Natural-historical language testifies to the priority of the we over the I , of the collective mind over the individual mind. That is why, as Saussure does not tire of repeating, language is an institution. It is for th is reason, in fact, that it is a pure institution, the matrix and yardstick for all the others. Such a judgment would not be fully justified, however, if language, beside being supra-personal, did not also exercise an integrative and protective function. For every authentic institution stabilizes and repairs. But what lack does natural-historical language need to fill? And what risk must it protect us from? Both the lack and the risk have a precise name: the faculty of language. This faculty that is the biological disposition to speak of each single individual is a simple potentiality that remains devoid of actual reality, all too similar to an aphasic state. Language as a social fact or pure institution compensates for individual infancy, that is, for th at condition in which one does not speak though one possess the capacity to do so. It protects us from the first and gravest danger to which the neotenous animal is exposed: a power that remains such, devoid of corresponding acts. The difference between the faculty of language and historically determinate laws a difference which, far from being elid ed, persists into adulthood, making itself felt every time a statement is produced confers an institutional tonality to the natural life of our speci es. It is precisely this difference that implies an extremely close link between biology and politics, between zoon logon ekon and zoon politikon Language is the institution that makes possible all the other institutions: fashion, marriage, law, the State the list goes on. But the
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 105 matrix is radically distinct from it s by-products. According to Saussure, the functioning of language cannot be compared to that of the law or the State. The undeniable analogies reveal themselves to be deceptive. The transformation over time of th e civil code has nothing in common with the mutation of consonants or the alteration in certain lexical values. The gap that separates the pure institution from the sociopolitical apparatuses with which we are familiar is perhaps quite instructive for an investigation such as ours. If we wish to employ the terminology used hitherto, we could say that only language is an effectively worldly institutions, which is to say such as to reflect in its very way of being the overabundance of biologically non-finalized stimuli, not to mention the chronic detachment of the human animal vis--vis its own vital context. Language is both the most natural and the most historical of human institutions. More natural: unlike fash ion or the State, it is founded on a special organ prepared by nature, that is on that innate biological disposition represented by the langua ge faculty. More historical: while marriage and the law are suited to certa in natural facts (sexual desire and the raising of offspring, for the fo rmer; symmetry of exchanges and the ratio between harm and penalty, fo r the latter), language is never constrained by an objective domain, but concerns instead the entire experience of the animal open to th e world, and therefore the possible as much as the real, the unknown to the same extent as the customary. Fashion is not localizable in an area of the brain, yet it must always respect the proportions of the human body. On the contrary, language depends on certain generic conditions, but enjoys an unlimited field of application (since it is itself capable of always expanding it anew). Language mirrors the typically human lack of a circumscribed and predictable environment; but it is pr ecisely its unlimited variability, in other words its independence from factual circumstances and natural data, which offers a perspicuous prot ection vis--vis the risks that are connected to that lack. The pure institution, which is simultaneously the most natural and the most historical of institutions is also however an insubstantial institution. Saussures ide fixe is well known: language contains no positive reality, endowed with autonomous consistency, but only differences and differences among di fferences. Each term is defined only by its non-coincidence with the rest, which is to say by its opposition or heterogeneity with respect to all the other terms. The
Paolo Virno 106 value of a linguistic element consists in its not being: x is something only and precisely because it is not y, not z, not w, and so on. The speaking beings capacity to negate some worldly state of affairs, sometimes even to the point of deactivating perceptual proof, is limited to the reprise and exteriorization of the complex of eternally negative relationships which has always characterized the interior life of language. Negation, which is to say what language does, must be understood above all as something that language is. The pure institution does not represent any given force or reality, but may signify them all thanks to the negative-differential relationship entertained by its components. It is not the spokespers on or trace of anything, and it is precisely in this way that it shows its inseparability from a being founded primarily on detachment. Is it conceivable that a political institution in the most rigorous acceptation of this adjective borro ws its own form and functioning from language? Is it plausible for th ere to be a Republic that protects and stabilizes the human animal in the same way that language performs its protective and stabilizing role vis--vis the language faculty, which is to say neoteny? Can there be an insubstantial Republic, based on differences and differences among differences, a non-representative Republic? I cannot answer these quest ions. Like anyone else, I too am suspicious of beguiling allusions and speculative short-circuits. Having said that, I think that the current cr isis of State sovereignty makes such questions legitimate, stripping them of any vain or complacent air. The idea that the self-government of the multitude may conform itself directly to the linguistic character of man, to the disturbing ambivalence that marks him, should at the very least remain an open problem. Ritual Ritual registers and confronts all sorts of crises: the uncertainty that paralyses action, the terror of the unknown, the intensification of aggressive drives at the heart of th e community. In the most significant cases, the crisis that ritual is preoccupied with does not concern however this or that determinate beha vior, but rather involves the very conditions of possibility of experience: the unity of self-consciousness and the openness to the world. Ernesto De Martino refers to the crucial occasions in which the I crumbles and the world seems about to end as crises of presence. In these circum stances, the partial reversibility of the anthropogenetic process is starkly manifest. In other words, the
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 107 possession of those fundamental pr erequisites that make a human animal into a human animal beco mes insecure. Ritual fulfils a therapeutic function not because it er ects a barrier against the crisis of presence but, on the contrary, because it retraces all its steps and attempts to invert the polarity of each and every one of them. Ritual praxis bears out the extreme danger dilates uncertainty and chaos, returns to the primal scene of hominiz ation. Only thus, after all, can it perform a symbolic repetition of anth ropogenesis, ultimately reaffirming the unity of the I and the openness to the world. According to De Martino, psycho-pathological collapse and the catastrophe of associated life are held back by cultural apocal ypses, that is by collective rituals that mimic destruction in order to ward it off ( rintuzzarla ). Cultural apocalypses are institutions based on ambivalence and oscillation. This is the ambivalence of critical situations, in which only loss offers a chance of deliverance, and there is no shelter save for that which danger itself delineates. And it is the oscillation between something familiar that becomes disturbing and something disturbing which once again emits familiarity. The crisis of presence follows tw o opposite and symmetrical paths. It can consist of a painful semantic defect, but also, inversely, of the uncontrollable inflationary vortex provoked by a semantic excess which cannot be resolved into de terminate meanings (De Martino, 1977: 89). The semantic defect is inseparable from a reduction of human discourse to a finite series of monochord signals. The I is reabsorbed into a chaotic world whos e parts, far from still constituting discrete units, merge into an unstab le and enveloping continuum. In the first case we are dealing with acts without power; in the second, with power without acts: these are the sp ecular ways in which the regression of the anthropogenetic process manifest s itself, in other words, to adopt De Martinos terminology, as the risk of the end of the world. The cultural apocalypse is the ri tual counterpart of the state of exception. It too implies the suspensi on of ordinary laws, letting certain traits of human nature emerge (the crisis and repetition of the same anthropogenetic process) in a particul ar historical conjuncture. Like the state of exception, the cultural apoc alypse too delineates a domain in which it is impossible to discern with confidence the grammatical level from the empirical one, the general rule from the individual application, matters of principle from matters of fact. The cultural apocalypse, just like the state of exception, makes it so that every normative proposition
Paolo Virno 108 shows that it is both an instrument of testing and a reality to be tested, a unit of measure and a measurable phenomenon. The state of exception has today become the enduring condit ion of associated life. It is no longer a circumscribed interval inaugurated and closed by the sovereign but a permanent tonality of action and discourse. This also goes for the ritual. The cultural apoc alypse is not confined to a special space and time, but now concerns all the aspects of contemporary experience. The reason for this is simple. The institutional task of ritual lies in containing the extreme dangers that menace the openness to the world of the linguistic animal. Well, in an era in which the openness to the world is no longer veiled or dulled by social pseudo-environments, but can even be said to represent a fundamental technical resource, this task must be carried out without any pause ( senza soluzione di continuit ). The oscillation between the loss of presence and its restoration characterizes every moment of social praxis. The ambivalence between the symptoms of crisis and the symbols of deliverance pervades the average everyday. It remains to ask whether cultural apocalypse, that is the naturalhistorical institution th at holds back radical evil through oscillation and ambivalence, possesses a strictly po litical correlate. Whether ritual, besides spreading through all the interstices of profane time, may also give us some hints regarding the possible functioning of a Republic no longer linked to the state. My reply to these questions is affirmative. As I already suggested, I think that the ancient concept of katechon of a force that restrains, constitutes th e plausible political equivalent of cultural apocalypses; and that this concept, like that of cultural apocalypse, is by no means inexorably tied to the vicissitudes of State sovereignty. Katechon In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul speaks of a force that restrains the dominance of iniquity in the world, always deferring the triumph of the Antichrist anew. To restrain, to defer: these terms have nothing in common with e xpunging or defeating, or even with circumscribing. What restrain s cannot keep its distance from what it restrains, but remains in proximit y to it, and even cannot fail to mix with it. The katechon does not vanquish evil, but limits it and parries its strikes each and every time. It does not save from destruction, but rather holds it back, and in order to hold it back, it conforms to the
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 109 innumerable occasions in which it ma y manifest itself. It resists the pressure of chaos by adhering to it just like the concave adheres to the convex. The border line between the katechon and the Antichrist does not belong exclusively to either of the two adversaries: analogously to the ritual device described by Ernest o de Martino, this line is both the symptom of the crisis and the symbol of deliverance, the expression of iniquity and a physiognomic trait of vi rtue. Or better, it is the one only because it is the other. In mediaeval and modern political thought, the katechon was initially identified with the temporal power of the Church, then with the centripetal institutions of the sove reign State, which, by imposing a preliminary pact of obedience, aimed to offset the disintegration of the social body. This is what Carl Schmitt writes in his Nomos of the Earth. This is certainly not the place for a detailed discussion of the conservative and state-worshi pping use of the notion of katechon Let a single observation suffice for the mome nt: Schmitt and his family album (Hobbes, De Maistre, Donoso Corts) evoke a force that restrains to indicate generically the stabilizing and protective role that befalls political institutions faced with the dangerousness of the disoriented and neotenous animal. Such a role is fundamental but does not represent a discriminating element: it may be cl aimed, in principle, by the most diverse types of political instituti on (to be clear: from an anarchist commune to a military dictatorship), as well as by innumerable nonpolitical institutions (beginning with language and ritual). Grasped in its generic sense, the katechon is a ubiquitous and pervasive property, perhaps even a bio-anthropological invariant. The salient point in Schmitt and authors close to him is not at all in he reference to a force that restrains, but its unequivocal a ttribution to state sovereignty. The question of the katechon is freed from these associations once the necessity of an institutional protecti on is stipulated, while at the same time rejecting the idea that the St ate and its associated monopoly over the political decision can guarantee it (given that it is precisely they which constitute the utmost dang er). Since dissimilar, or even diametrically opposed ways of contai ning the risky instability of the linguistic animal are in competition, it seems legitimate not only to disentangle the idea of katechon from the supreme empire of the State, but also to juxtapose the two. All of this does not hold, of course, for those who critique the State while trus ting in the innate meekness of our species. For them, a force that restrains is always deserving of
Paolo Virno 110 contempt; for them, the appropriation of the katechon by authoritarian political thought is therefore en tirely legitimate, or rather unimpeachable. But Id rather disregard such stances. If we equate the concept of katechon with the apotropaic function involved in any political (and non-po litical) institution, we are led to conclude that it surpasses and exceeds that of State sovereignty: between the two concepts there lies an insurmountable gap, the same gap that separates the genus from the species, the phrase linguistic animal from the phrase university pr ofessor. If we turn our attention instead to the truly peculiar aspects of the katechon which is to say to what makes it a proper name, it is not difficult to recognize its radical heterogeneity with respect to the fo rm of protection envisaged by State sovereignty (whose crux, as we know, is the exit from the state of nature and the preliminary pact of obedience) Let us follow this second path. In order to grasp the characteristic features of the katechon as a political institution, those aspects that rela te it to cultural apocalypses and oppose it to the modern central State, we need to pause for a moment on its theological make-up. The katechon is marked by an internal antinomy. It hold back the Antichrist, radical evil, polymorphous aggressiveness. But in the second book of the Apocalypse the triumph of the Antichrist constitutes the necessary premise for the second coming of the Messiah, the parousia which will accord eternal salvation to creatures by putting an end to the world. This is the double bind to which the katechon is subject: if it restrains evil, the final defeat of evil is hindered; if aggressiveness is limited, the ultimate annihilation of aggressiveness is forestalled. Of course, blunting ever anew the dangerousness of the species Homo sapiens means avoiding its lethal expression, but it also, and perhaps above all, means prohibiting its definitive expunction: that expunction, to be clear, that the theories of sovereignty seek by means of the stark caesura between state of nature and ci vil state. From a logical point of view, the antinomy that lu rks in the institutionkatechon is perhaps comparable to the paradoxical in junction I command you to be spontaneous: if I am spontaneous, I am not, since I am obeying an order; if I obey the order, I am not really obeying, because I am being spontaneous. From a political poi nt of view, the same antinomy becomes remarkably productive, inasmuch as it delineates a model of institutional protection according to which the (self-)destructive drives linked to the openness to the world can only be confronted thanks to
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions 111 the same bio-linguistic conditions (neoteny, negation, the modality of the possible, and so on) which consti tute the foundations and guarantee of that very openness. Let us reiterate once more the crucial point. By hindering the triumph of the Antichrist, the katechon simultaneously hinders the redemption at the hand of the Messiah. To restrain iniquity entails renouncing the restitution of innocence. The katechon a radically antieschatological theologico-political concept is opposed to the end of the world, or better, to the atrophy of the openness to the world, to the various ways in which the crisis of presence can manifest itself. Both evil triumphant and the total victory over evil imply that end, which is to say this atrophy. The katechon is a protection against the lethal instability that emanates from the Antichrist, but equally from the messianic state of equilibrium; it protects from terrifying chaos as well as from redemptive entropy. Not only does the katechon oscillate between the negative and the positive, without ever expunging the negative, it preserves oscillation as such, its persistence. In strictly political terms, the katechon is a republican institution designed to forestall two catastr ophic possibilities which can undermine the very root of social interaction: the case in which the regularity of species-specific behaviors becomes prominent, albeit devoid of any determinate rule whatsoever (seman tic excess); and the diametrically opposed case in which a set of rules is in force which, having been sundered from regularity, require an automatic and uniform application (semantic deficit). Thus, the katechon is the republican institution that holds back the risks implicit in the instability of a being primarily founded on detachment, though it si multaneously counters the rather menacing ways in which the modern State has sought out a protection from those very risks. Not unlike the irregular institutions (leagues, councils, assemblies) that characteri ze the political existence of the multitude according the Hobbes, the katechon is doubly tied to circumstances and occasions. It does not exercise a centralizing synthesis with regard to concrete forms of life, powers and local conflicts, but instead carries out a contingent and very precise task. The katechon is the institution best suited to the permanent state of exception, to the partial lack of distinction (or reciprocal commutability) between matters of principle and matters of fact that characterize it. In other words, it is the institution be st suited to the state of exception
Paolo Virno 112 once the latter, far from still being a prerogative of the sovereign, signals instead the action and discourse of the multitude.
11311 What is Critique? Suspension and Re-Composition in Textual and Social Machines* Gerald Raunig (Translated by Aileen Derieg) Critique does not have the premises of a thinking that conclusively explains: and this is what is to be done now. It must be an instrument for those who fight, resist, and who no longer want what is. It must be used in processes of conflict, confrontation and resistance attempts. It must not be the law of the law. It is not a stage in a program. It is a challenge to the status quo. (Michel Foucault, Roundtable, 20 May 1978) In the manifold assemblages of concep ts of resistance, an impression of confusion is not unusual; neither is arbitrariness in terms of a meaningful differentiation of these concepts. When Michel Foucault presents an entire battery of concepts of resistance in his governmentality lecture and weighs th em refusal, revolt, disobedience, resistiveness, desertion, dissidence, dissent, and, finally, counter-conduct then the following question arises in relation to critique: Is there a specific place of critique in this asse mblage of concepts, and if there is, then where? This is the question, th e problem that I want to address in the course of this essay, beginning with Foucault and tying my own idea of this specific place of critique into his. First of all, I would like to avoid a misunderstanding that might possibly arise about the title of the conference1 that is the occasion for this text. The Art of Critique is not in any way a reference to art in the narrower sense, nor to art criticism, even though the efforts undertaken by our institute do move in the ne ighboring zones of art production and art theory. The conference title was, first of all, a set piece of a
Gerald Raunig 114 quotation from What is Critique? the lecture that Michel Foucault held in late May 1971, which is also the leitmotiv of my text. The term art here is closely related to the Greek word techne which is why Foucault calls critique in his lecture not only an art and a virtue, but also a technique. This is not simply an idiosyncrasy of Foucaults, but rather a tradition that reaches back to the first uses of the term critique. The term first appears with Plato, in Politicos (The Statesman), in the combination kritik techne ( Polit 260b), in other words the art, the craft of distinguishing, which is then translated in Latin as ars iudicandi Calling critique both technique and art is found throughout the centuries and in various European languages. Yet which practice makes up this t echnique of critique? Contrary to the commonplace use of the term, in Ju dith Butlers essay inspired by Foucaults lecture and also entitled What is Critique? she refers to critique as a practice that suspends judgment (Butler, 2002). So instead of judging or condemning, critique specifically suspends judgment. Contrary to the notion of a purely critical position, a privileged place, upon which and from which the overview and authority of judgment arise, it is initially a matter of suspending judgment. In fact, this was already noted by the eternal head of the court of critique, Immanuel Kant, w ho wrote: critical method suspends judgment. Nevertheless, he also c ontinued with the explanation that this suspension of judgment has only one aim: critical method suspends judgment, in order to reach [judgment] (Kant, n.d.: 459). Butler, on the other hand, concurs wi th Foucault that critique goes beyond suspending judgment, that cr itique specifically does not return to judgment in this suspension of judgment, but instead opens up a new practice. This double figure of suspension and re-invention corresponds to the development of the tw o components of my own text. 1. Critique suspends judgment. 2. At the same time, critique al so means re-composition, invention. Foucaults What is Critique? Th e Necessity of New Reversals of the Movement from the Critical Atti tude to the Project of Critique In my lecture at the opening of the Transform project in Linz in the Fall of 2005 (reprinted as chapter 1 in th is volume), I focused primarily on the famous starting point of Foucault s lecture, which names critique as the attitude, the art, the will not to be governed like that, not in this way,
What is Critique? 115 not at this price, not by them (Fou cault, 1997a). Judith Butler calls Foucaults starting point here the signa ture of a critical attitude (Butler, 2002), and it is in fact inscribed in most practices of critique as a figure that derives its force of resistance primarily from the will to shift the relationship of power and resistance. Foucault develops the figure of critique as an art of not being governed like that, consistently parallel to the expansion of the pastoral economy of the souls, into an art of governing people: the critical attitude is simultaneously partner and adversary of the arts of governing, which expanded explosively in the late Middle Ages. And while Foucault posits this unexpectedly early start of the genealogy of critique, in his lecture he picks up virtually all of the important threads of critique in European Modernism: he starts with the emergence of the critica sacra the new bible criticism during the transition from the late Middle Ages to Modernity as the most important component of the modern foundation of critique. He ascribes to Kants endeavor of critique the main moment of que stioning knowledge about its own limits and dead ends, and he calls this the Kantian channel (Foucault, 1997a: 63). With the term critical attitude Foucault ties into the revolutionary, leftist Hegelian texts of the nineteenth century, and finally even takes a position of fellows hip with the Frankfurt School (Foucault, 1997a: 44) especially in relation to their critique of positivism, objectivism, rationalization, of techne and technicalization (1997a: 38) whose critical theory embodied the last major boom of the concept of critique. As my starting point for Transform was the thesis at the beginning of Foucaults lecture, that of criti que as the art of not being governed like that, now at the close of our pr oject I would like to start from the end of Foucaults lecture. There he poses a question that is difficult to understand. Following the familiar opening passage and longer epistemological passages in the middle section, he states his sympathy for certain aspects of the Enlightenment contrary to a form of critique that he increasingly begins to doubt in the course of his text. His question is, specifically, is it not necessary to reverse the path from the critical attitude to the question of critique, from the endeavor of the Enlightenment to the project of crit ique? The movement of the reversal is first of all to be examined in its heterogenesis, as a historical dissemination of Enlightenment, on the one hand, and the Kantian project of critique on the other. It must be noted, however, that the
Gerald Raunig 116 reversal of the process cannot simply lead back to the pathos of Enlightenment, it also includes the leftist critique of the Enlightenment from the nineteenth and twentieth cen turies, but understands the critical attitude as Enlightenment-critical enlightenment in a different genealogy as the project of critique. Whereas critique and Enlightenment ( Aufklrung in German) seem to be inextricably interwoven in a more general understanding, Foucault gradually unfolds both terms in the course of his lecture, finally polarizing them with a reserved pol emic reference to Kant and his concept of critique: he writes that this question of the Aufklrung, since Kant, because of Kant and presumab ly because of this separation he introduced between Aufklrung and critique, was essentially raised in terms of knowledge ( connaissance) (Foucault, 1997a: 48). In other words, a separation of Enlightenment and critique first took place with Kant, then the movement respons ible for reassessing the Aufklrung endeavor within the critical proj ect (Foucault, 1997a: 61). In this critical project2 now comprising both Enlig htenment and critique, Foucault sees a procedure develop that focuses exclusively on testing the legitimacy of historical modes of knowledge.3 Foucault, on the other hand, takes up and assails the question of how power and knowledge are interwoven.4 The problem of the Kantian posi tion is that Kant set forth critiques primordial responsibility, to know knowledge (Foucault, 1997a: 36). Here a radical critique of knowledge is separated from every critical political activity. Instead of this form of critique understood as being necessarily limited, Foucault is interested in a practical critique that continuously transgresses the limit of knowledge that is not to be grasped as a law of laws.5 Whereas Kant is concerned with critique as knowing knowledge, therefore also and above all knowing the limits of knowledge, Foucault wants the critical attitude to be understood as a transgression of precisely these limits. I read the direction of Foucaults demand for a reversal primarily as an attack on fixations and restrictions of the concept of critique to the critique of knowledge, as an attack on the extreme academicizing and narrowing of the Kantian concept of critique, which made it impossible in the early nineteenth century, at least in the German-speaking region, to use the concept of critique in po litical contexts. And what is perhaps even more important: I also read Foucaults suggestion that it is a matter
What is Critique? 117 of reversing the path from the critical attitude to the project of critique into a new productive repetition of leftist Hegelian discourses, which attempted a reversal of this kind around the mid-nineteenth century. The highpoint of this development in opposition to Kants concept of critique which is also posited, not least of all, dichotomously against revolutionary violence is Ma rx famous dictum from his Critique of Hegels Philosophy of Right : Clearly the weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of weapons, and material force must be overthrown by material force. But theory also b ecomes a material force once it has gripped the masses (Marx, 1975: 251). Or less oratorically: what Marx and Engels called practical critical action is already quite close to the Foucauldian concept of the critical attitude in this emphasis on turning away from Kants purely epistemological critical project. And since Marx, it is possible (again) to understa nd critique as practical alongside revolutionary violence, and to grasp these two activities not as mutually exclusive, but rather as complement ary components of social struggles. And this was also possible before Ka nt. The intention of my essay is to insist on this complementarity. Critique and Revolution, critical discursivity and social struggles, th e machines of textual criticism and the machines of social resistance do not have to be understood as mutually exclusive. When the relationship to text suspends the law of the law, then new social machines emerge. If a new social composition emerges in resistance, then a re-compos ition of the texts also results; the social organization form of an asse mblage joins together with a new concatenation of conceptual and te xtual components. In fact, in my examples this social re-composition ov erlaps to a certain degree with reconstructive textual critique. To support this thesis, in the following I would like to investigate both components of machinic complementarity, the text ma chine and the social machine.6 Instead of constructing and fixing the distan ce between two identical poles with terms such as scholarly text producti on and peoples revolt, I want to focus on the zones of proximity betw een these two machines, especially on the modes in which they impel th e suspension of judgment and the practice of re-composition. Critique as Discursive and Textual Machine In the beginning of the modern histor y of the concept of critique, there is textual criticism, and it consists primarily of the suspension of judgment that was practiced by th e clergy as a Medieval monopoly on
Gerald Raunig 118 interpreting the bible. The growing objections to the Christian principle of tradition and its privileging of the Fathers of the Church and the clergy as monopolists of exegesis t ook the scriptures away from the clergy as sole mediators.7 In the high and late Middle Ages, when the art of governing was largely a spiritual practice closely linked to the doctrine of the scriptures, this was exactly the point where governing, guiding people was attacked, resistance ran, not least of all, through the search for a different relationship to scripture: Not wanting to be governed was a certain way of refusing challenging, limiting (say it as you like) ecclesiastical rule (Foucault, 1997a: 29). Foucault speaks here of a dimorphi sm, in which the clergy is on the one side and the laity on the other, an extreme development that represents one of the starting points of pastoral counter-conduct (Foucault, 2004a: 294). The monopol y on performing the sacraments, the practice of obligatory confessi on as a permanent tribunal, the inversion of asceticism into obedience, and not least of all the jurisdiction over the interpretation of the sacred scriptures, these are the central components of the pastor ate. Counter to all of these components, however, there was also a pastoral counter-conduct in the form of short-circuiting, subverti ng and over-affirming the respective clerical coercion or monopoly. In the case of the scriptural monopoly this meant the repulsion of the pa stor in the field of scriptures (Foucault, 2004a: 309). Critique as suspension of judgment meant here the suspension of the pastoral relay suspension of the mediation of the scriptures through the clergy, suspen sion of teaching, and thus the selfempowerment of the readers.8 Following the late Medieval practice of resistance against the clerical scriptures monopoly, the concept of critique from antiquity was reanimated in the la te fifteenth century.9 Roughly a hundred years later, the term entered into English and French from Latin. A hundred years after that, the word Kritik appeared for the first time in German, specifically in Gottlieb Stolles Concise Introduction to the History of Practical Learning Here the early scientific systems theorist and historian Stolle (1673-1744) wrote a condensed defini tion of critique, summarizing its conceptual development in the last cen turies and definitively closing, in a sense, the conceptual development from late Medieval resistance against the clerical scriptures monopoly. In this genealogy, Stolles definition emphasizes the specific significance of text critique and provides a concise representation of the object of this critique:
What is Critique? 119 Critique commonly means an art of understanding the old authors, or making them understandable, of di stinguishing what they wrote from what has been imputed to them or falsified, and improving or replacing what is spoiled. (Stolle, 1736: 117) I would like to use this probably first appearance of critique in German to take a closer look at the dens e definition proposed here. The source is a Historia Literaria, which e ssentially collects bibliographical references to certain specialized questions; the definition of critique is the sentence that introduces the 18-page chapter Von der Critica. Gottlieb Stolle initially calls Critica or Critic an art. He does so in the tradition of the philological line of the ars critica as it dominated the concept of critique since the end of the sixteenth century, in other words, critique essentially as text critique. In keeping with the sense of techne of ars from antiquity, we may presume that a technique, a technical procedure of the philologica l discipline is to be designated here, which is subsequently made concrete. The old authors are defined as the object of critique, thus also seeking and establishing the familiar reference to antiquity and its theory protagonists, which takes up the line intended to suspend, skip and explode the Medieval authority of the clergy. Yet authors or as Stolle writes, auctores also indicates the central concept of aut horship, subjectifying and specifying the origin, which as we will see is not to be interpreted as an essentialist figure, so much as a simple root: the Latin noun auctor stems from the verb augeo for multiplying. Auctor is hence a person who multiplies something or brings togeth er several components that do not necessarily belong together.10 What Critic first involves is to understand the old auctores. The next step, which was relatively surprisi ng for the context of that time, expands this understanding with making understandable . The crucial difference between understand an d make understandable is the relation between a passive continuation of the tradition of interpretation in the old tracks of knowledge and making understandable as a definitive productivity of critique. Cr itique is thus based not only on the appropriation of linguistic competence to be able to understand the texts, it also actively intervenes in the text production. It goes beyond obediently following the rules just as it goes beyond slavish reconstruction of the original text.
Gerald Raunig 120 Critique should nevertheless distinguish, it remains an ars iudicandi a technique of distinguishing. But wh at does distinguish mean, what is to be distinguished here? That which the old authors have written from that which has been imputed to them or falsified. It is not only the sense of an unambiguous writin g that has been clearly passed on that is to be interpreted here; before that, critique seeks to distinguish what was written from what was falsified. For this, we must imagine the often fragmentary quality of the hand written manuscripts as well as the manifold revisions, the complex in terlocking of generations of manuscripts and the various degrees to which the texts have been spoiled through various circumstan ces ranging from fire to less talented scribes. Evident here is the knowledge that text production and text critique are processes. Aspects of imputing and falsifying reveal a process, which multiplies authorship, shifting the focus to the interests of the respective historical contexts and their subjects in understanding, interpreting, shifting or even obfuscating the origin in their own interest. All of these revisions of the existing original material are to be understood as a productive process of re-composition. Instead of introducing the distinction as an essent ialist excavation of an origin, it is instead a matter of reinstituting a heterogenetic process: not a pure tree schema, at the head of which there is an original text and an auctor, but rather a much more winding practice of continual re-combination. And what results over the course of time is a gigantic and complex interlocking apparatus of philologica l method and auxiliary sciences, the visual representation of which in the positive or negative apparatus, which sometimes takes up a large portion of the page of a book, illustrates its apparatus-like characte r. Yet the history, linguistics, conjectures, translations, and the biog raphical and political contexts of the authors form not only a gigantic apparatus, but also a productive, abstract machine. The copyists not only copied and improved/deteriorated the texts, they also filled gaps with much imagination, sometimes refined the te xts, corrected them ideologically, sometimes even continued them. Text critique involves more than distinguishing between the source and it s multiple shifts, it also involves improving or replacing what is spoiled. With the words improve and replace, Stolle positions critique in the terrain of re-construction and re-composition. And the rein both these terms does not necessarily indicate a return to an origin that must be re-produced, but rather a
What is Critique? 121 new, more suitable place. The result is a scope for re-composition, reinvention.11 Critique is thus to be understood as an interplay between the suspended iudicium and inventio between the capacity for judgment, which in making understandable cl early goes beyond the practice of empirically distinguishing in the se nse of separation and exclusion, and invention that newly concatenates the (signifying) components. Critique as Social Machine Even before the re-invention of crit ique as text critique, Foucault discovered a resistive practice against the pastorate: in the religious struggles of the second half of the Middle Ages, in the revolts of mysticism, in the nests of resistan ce against the authority of clerical exegesis, not only was the Reformation prepared, but for Foucault they were also the kind of historical lim it upon which this critical attitude developed (Foucault, 1997a: 64).12 Both before and as scholarly resistance arose, the self-empowerment of philology against the clerical exegesis monopoly and the application of philological critique to the biblical scriptures, social machines against mediation by the pastor also arise. What especially interested me was the historical basis of what Foucault took as the starting point for his explanations, what he also mentions as questions that were still open for him in the discussion of his lecture from 1978. Here he asks: If we were to explore this dimension of critique, would we not then find that it is supported by something akin to the historical practice of revolt, the non-acceptance of a real government, on one hand, or, on the other, the individual experience of the refusal of governmentality? (Foucault, 1997a: 73) Foucault himself left this question ope n in his lecture. In his lectures on the history of governmentality held in the same year, there are ideas that continue on from this. Especially in the eighth lecture from 1 March 1978, Foucault brings up numerous indications of the various resistances against the pastorate in th e late Middle Ages (Foucault, 2004: 278). Yet Foucault did not really cl ose the gap here either. His method remained eclectic and purposely on the surface. He listed the most important movements on the consta ntly shifting border between internal and external criticism of the church, referred occasionally to single specific features of these movements that tested a different
Gerald Raunig 122 conduct, a counter-conduct.13 Not only witchcraft and the familiar heresies, but also a multitude of smaller and larger anormalities at the margins of ecclesiastical immanence are mentioned here. Waldensians, Utraquists, Calixtines, Taborites, Amalricans, Flagellanti, the mysticism of the Rhine nuns, the Society of the Poor and Jeanne Dabenton, Beguines and Beghards, the Brethren of the Free Spirit and Marguerite Porete populate the space and time of this marginal cartography of counter-conduct especially in the twelfth to the fifteenth century (Foucault, 2004a: 285, 306). However, Foucault does not go into detail about any of these examples of counter-conduct. Th e reason for his limitation to a movement along the surface certainly has something to do with the precarious source material, which is marked by the fact that sources from the perspective of the actors hardly exist, because the Inquisition so thoroughly destroyed them. This forced fragmentarity, however, also has an implicit quality. This made it possible for Foucault to collect single aspects from every possible ar ea, which constitute individual and collective counter-conduct in (not only) the late Middle Ages: the election and the option of deposing th e pastor among the Taborites, the new forms of counter-society am ong the Society of the Poor, the emphasis on communal property an d the rejection of personal ownership of goods. All of these are components of an abstract machine that assails the dimorphism of priests and laity, in which the suspension of the Christian pastorate goes hand in hand with the recomposition and re-inventi on of social organization.14 These forms of counter-conduct have their specific features, but this remains a nonautonomous specificity (Foucault, 2004a: 286). This means they develop in the connection with po litical revolts against power as sovereignty, with economic revolts ag ainst power as exploitation. Most of all, though, these revolts of conduct, these resistances of conduct are equally linked with a very different, but decisive problem, namely the status of women (Foucault, 2004a: 285).15 When I look more closely in the following at one of the movements central to this question, then I am exploring somewhat below Foucaults eclectic probing maneuver on the surface of counter-conduct in the high and late Middle Ages. I mainly limit myself to the thirteenth and early fourteenth century and to a si ngle movement, but one that left traces throughout broad sections of Europe: the Beguines.16 At the turn of the twelfth to the thirteenth centu ry, a new type of religious or semi-
What is Critique? 123 religious form of living crystallized primarily in Belgium and the Netherlands, in the Rhineland and in northern Italy (Dinzelbacher, 1993: 21-23). The mulieres religiosae the pious, honorable women who were soon called by the collective name Beguines (Leicht, 2001: 99), lived unmarried and in poverty, or more strongly formulated: in the rejection of the marital dominance of men and in the rejection of wealth, which was also understood at the time in the sense of a rejection of power and higher position.17 However, they lived without a fixed ecclesiastical rule, such as that which defines life in a religious order. Not least of all, due to this lack of a rule, they could also leave the community at any time, because they had not taken a vow of eternal obedience. This means that the Beguines were border-crossers, who were always and from the start in danger of being thrown into the outside of ecclesiastical immanence.18 Depending on the interpretation of the authorities, geographical and historical context and the conclusions of various practices of divine judgment, they were persecuted or revered, landed on the lists of heretics or later in the calendar of saints. The rise of the Beguine movement emerged not at all primarily as a revolt against worldly rule, but rather out of the desire for a suspension of the clerical-patriarchal order and the everyday misogyny that permeated all classes in the twelfth an d thirteenth centuries. As Foucault described it (2004a: 302-7), alongside the failed conduct of the clergy, it was primarily the growing dissatisfaction with the sacramental power of the priests that gradually incited a threatening perforation of the dimorphism between clergy and the laity. In the case of women there was an additional reason not to accept the alternative or early marriage or entry a cloister. The suspension of this alternative led them directly into the risky experiment of tryi ng out a non-institutionalized, nonsecured, non-protected way of living. The desire for alternative forms of living generated essentially three practices of the Beguines, the with drawal into the hermitage as an anchoress, the collective practice of living together without the rule of an order, and finally the nomadic practice of the mendicant wandering preacher. 1. First the mystical practice of the anchoresses: this is essentially a technique of radical self-isolation, but does not only consist solely of a hermit existence, of the complete wi thdrawal of a hermit into solitude.
Gerald Raunig 124 The anchoress hermitage was sometimes also attached to a church and furnished so that the anchoress could also take part in the mass. Ecstasy, trances, visions, and finally the unio mystica (mystic union as the bride of Christ) marked the anchore ss' specific way of living; direct experience of God, the rapture or the enthousiasmos of God were the highest aim, and guidance from the confessor was the transformed remainder of ecclesiastical order. Here one should think about Foucaults distinction between as ceticism and obedience that would even shift the ascetic practice of the anchoresses into a light of disobedience towards church power, or as Foucault says: a kind of raging and inverted obedience (2004a: 301). However, here is not the place to go into this in more detail and especially more critically, and what I am interested in here is primarily the aspect of re-composition in the context of the Beguines. 2. When the suspension of judgment is found here in the suspension of divine judgment (=ordeal) and cl erical order, this means not only a movement of defecting from the extreme ecclesiastical order, but also a dangerous attempt to live without ru le, beyond the discipline of the institutional order. The Beguines founded unofficial religious communities living in one or more houses, later entire city districts. A collective alternative form of living emerged in self-organization as fleeing from the practice of confe ssion as a permanent trial, from penance and reconciliation imposed from outside, from the double domination by men and priests. Wherea s entering a cloister was a final decision, leaving the community at any time remained open to the Beguines and with that also leavin g the voluntary abstinence from sex. 3. Finally, however, along with these radically individual and collective practices of being settled in one place, there was also a Beguine form of living in moveme nt: vagabond, nomadic Beguines who regarded themselves as homeless mendicants (Cohn, 1970: 163). Initially the nomadic existence of the Beguines was an analogy to their notion of a spiritual path leading through deto urs and wandering without plan or destination through a difficult terrain Like their male counterparts, the Beghards, however, these Beguines concretely led a deliberately impoverished life of wandering based on the pillars of begging and preaching. More or less public preaching, sometimes in more out-of-the-way places, sometimes in central squares, was probably imagined as an act of
What is Critique? 125 provocation. Women like Hildegard von Bingen or Marguerite Porete who appeared in public, tested a rare form of female presence, but probably provoked the authorities all the more for it. The Beguines were easily attacked, since they belonged to no order, but the forms of living they practiced and propagated were also subject to persecution: recompositio and inventio re-composition and re-invention, take on a dangerous tone here, because the new, new fashions and unheard of innovations were terms associated with the novi doctores the heretics (Dinzelbacher, 1993: 21-23). In this respect, the bishops attacked both the anchoresses way of living, as the ecstasy of the brides of Christ was especially condemned as immode rate, and that of the nomadic Beguines, whose wandering way of life was also read as excessive (Dinzelbacher, 1993: 37).19 What was left although increasingly regulated was only the middle form of communal living under the control of worldly and ecclesiastical authorities. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the attacks became increasingly massive, the border between inside and outside the church was clearly drawn again20: some were integrated into Catholic order, were accommodated in manageable city districts, were compelled to withdraw into communities with orderly ecclesiastical surveillance, regulation and institutionalization; others were increasingly exposed to persecution, condemnation and burning (Cohn, 1970: 165), or they made the transition into the clandestine. It may be supposed that under this pressure there was a development similar to the one a sserted by Norman Cohn for the Beghards: the wandering Beguines also withdrew from the public practice of preaching and begging in conspirational understanding which they were able to develop with certain of the Beguine communities (Cohn, 1970: 162). This results in a new re-composition, or at least a re-ordering of the functions of settled and nomadic Beguines. Whereas the nomadic Beguines were able to continue their practice of preaching in the community houses, through this clandestine combination of moving and static elements, even communication with far distant Beguine centers wa s maintained (Cohn, 1970: 166). When I talk about a suspension of (divine) judgment in the context of the Beguine movement, I am not at all imputing a turning away from Christian practices, but rather the a ttempt to intensify, reinterpret and rewrite them, the excessive applicat ion and outdoing of the rule, the over-affirmation and exaggeration of th e regulations: to the extent that Beguines exercised ecstatic practices, they were able to draw on non-
Gerald Raunig 126 biblical messages, the direct access to Jesus Christ in their mystical experiences. The knowledge of God grounded in experience ( cognito Dei experimentalis ) entered into competition with the mediating role of the church. The revelation experiences were thus not only supernatural, but also unmediated (self-)a uthorization, which went beyond the original authority of scripture, as well as b eyond the mediating authority of the clergy. Along with this privileged access to God, which was primarily reserved to the anchoresses, there was also a direct attack on the scripture monopoly of the clergy. The Beguines used their knowledge of the bible to develop their own form of living and to become autonomous from the monopoly of th e clergy (Gndinger, 1987: 223). The type of relationship the Beguines had to exegesis is evident not only in this emancipation process, but al so in the fact that they already attempted to translate the bible into French in the twelfth century, that they presumably interpreted its mysteries and discussed it in secular assemblies and even in the street (Cohn, 1970: 161; Gndinger, 1987: 223, 229). Not only the bible was interpreted and translated autonomously, but the Beguines al so wrote texts. Even in the interweaving of experiential myst icism and theoretical mysticism, however, they did not use Latin as the language of scholars, but rather Middle Low German, other German dialects or French.21 And these self-assured texts are, not least of all, also invectives against the established theology (Leicht, 1999: 108), implicit and explicit criticism of the clergy. In this context, critique must also be seen as a search for alternative forms of living, different from th e marital dominance, clerical and patriarchal order, and as a struggle for education, as a struggle over language, as a struggle for broader knowledge production. The social machine of the Beguines is not to be decoupled from the text machine that gradually and increasingly arose against the monopoly of the pastor. The concatenation of the two machines is the crucial indication of the quality of critique. And this brings me back to the opening question of the specific place of critique in the conceptual assemblage of expressions for the forms and forces of resistance. Of course, there should not be an overly hasty link made here between the historical and the current; space must be left for querying historical shifts both in terms of the text function
What is Critique? 127 and in terms of the social re-c ompositions. The late Medieval concatenation of text critique and social machine undoubtedly follows a different mode than the opposition of an economic power as difficult to grasp as capitalism, which was central to the Marxian concept of critique in the nineteenth century. And if to day we negotiate the position of the general intellect, a collective and militant intellectuality in post-Fordist cognitive capitalism, this in turn means a new challenge for the various forms of critique as suspension an d re-composition. Nevertheless, the place of critique is there, where the social machines of resistance are concatenated with text machines. What has made the concept of critique so relevant and so controversial in various phases of modernism, is the struggle against d ecoupling text machines and social machines, their concatenations, overlaps and superimpositions. Notes For suggestions and critical advice, I would like to thank Aileen Derieg, Isabell Lorey and Stefan Nowotny. 1. This essay is a revised version of the introductory lecture for the eipcp conference The Art of Critique, at the Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna in April 2008 (cf. http://transform .eipcp.net/Actions/discursive/ artofcritique). 2. [W]hose intent was to allow knowledge to acquire an adequate idea of itself (Foucault, 1997a: 61). 3. Foucault contrasts this test of legitimacy with the strange concept of eventualization (Foucault, 1997a: 49). 4. His question describes the moveme nt of deserting from this specific connection to the figure of not being governed like that: In what way can the effects of coercion  not be dissipated by a return to the legitimate destination of knowledge and by a refl ection on the transcendental or semitranscendental that fixes knowledge, but how can they instead be reversed or released from within a concrete strategic field, this concrete strategic field that induced them, starting with this decision not to be governed (Foucault: 1997a: 60)? 5. Foucault (2005: 702): The point in brief is to transform the critique conducted in the form of necessary limitation into a practical critique that takes the form of a possible transgression. This also illuminates the somewhat confusing conceptual shift from the critical attitude to the critical project. What Kant originally describes as Aufklrung clearly separates from critique, and finally dissipates into a notion of critique that is solely a
Gerald Raunig 128 critique of knowledge, which for Foucault is very much what I was trying before to describe as critique, this critical attitude which appears as a specific attitude in the Western world starting with what was historically, I believe, the great process of societys governmentalization (Foucault, 1997a: 34). 6. These are also two main strands that Foucault indicates with his reference to pre-Reformation religious struggles on the one hand and the spiritual attitudes prevalent during the second half of the Middle Ages on the other, when discussing the genealogy of the cr itical attitude (Foucault, 1997a: 64). 7. On the emergence of critica sacra cf. Kosseleck (1976: 87-89); and Grses (2006). 8. The pastor can comment, he can ex plain what is unclear, he can name what is important, but this occurs in ev ery case so that the reader can read the Holy Scriptures himsel f (Foucault, 2004: 309). 9. The Italian humanist Angelo Poliziano, in his lecture about Aristotles Analytica priora in 1492, ties into the terminology from antiquity, ascribing to the critici the sole right to judge and improve writings. 10. Giorgio Agamben points this out in State of Exception (2005). Agamben sees the specific function of the auctoritas in contrast to potestas precisely where it is a matter of suspending right: It is a force that suspends and reactivates right, but gives it no formal validity. 11. There is something involved here that Cicero and Quintilian already addressed in conjunction with critique, but still clearly distinguished from critique in the narrower sense, from ars iudicandi The recompositio the recomposition of the text, is also accompanied by a component of inventio or of ars inveniendi Quintilian emphasizes, for instance, in the institutio oratoria describing the meticulous and scrupulous character of the dialectical discussion of scholars, that they clai m for themselves both the part of invention and that of judgment, the firs t of which they call topic, the second critique. Quintilian ( Inst. orat. V, 14, 28): ut qui sibi et inveniendi et iudicandi vindicent partis, quarum alteram topikn, alteram kritikn vocant . 12. And he continues: [T]hese experiences, these spiritual movements have very often been used as attire, vocabulary, but even more so as ways of being, and ways of supporting the hopes expressed by the struggle (Foucault, 1997a: 74). 13. Foucault (2004a: 282): By that I mean that these are movements that have a different conduct as their goal, which means wanting to be conducted differently, by other conductors [conducteur ] and by other pastors, to different goals and to different forms of salvati on, by means of other procedures and other methods. Cf. also Foucault (2004a: 288): an aspect of the search for a different conduct, for a being-conducted-differently, by other people, to
What is Critique? 129 goals other than that which is provid ed for by the official, visible and recognizable governmentality of society. 14. At this point Foucault repeats the familiar figure that resistance should not be understood as a subsequent reaction: rather than a linear sequence of action (by power) and resistance, ther e is an immediate and fundamental correlation between conduct and counter-conduct (Foucault, 2004a: 284). 15. In the early 13th century policies for women were more prohibitive in recognized orders such as the Premonstratensians, and at the same time there was a strong increase in the number of women joining the Waldensians, who initially instituted religious equality. Here women were permitted to preach, baptize, grant ab solution, and celebrate the Eucharist. 16. See Cohn (1970: especially 148-186); Gndinger (1987: 215-39); Vaneigem (1993: especially chapters 31 and 32); Dinzelbacher (1993; 1998: 13-30); Leicht (1999); Jantzen (2001: 29-44). 17. Initially this development was based on intercessions from bishops and permission from the Pope. At the inte rcession of Bishop Jakob von Virty, Pope Honorius III allowed pious women in France and Germany to live together without assuming an approved order in common houses and to hold sermons for their mutual edific ation (Dinzelbacher, 1993: 36). 18. The Beguines moved at the margins of the pastorate and brought a certain change to its limits at the same time. This relationship between limit and immanence corresponds with a figure th at I call immanent transgression: transgressing a limit that does not presume the existence of a radical outside, into which the transgression of the limit is supposed to lead, but rather which changes the limit and the immanence. In his Preface to Transgression from 1963, Foucault writes about Bataille and transgression as a gesture that applies to the limit. And many years later, in 1978, this concept of transgression returns: This philosophical ethos may be characterized as a limit-attitude. We are not talking about a gesture of rejection. We have to move beyond th e outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits (Foucault, 1997a). 19. It is doubtful, however, that the promiscuity, negation of sinfulness, complete absence of moral ideals, such as Cohn (1970: 179) presumes for the Brethren of the Free Spirit as mys tical anarchism, also applied to the Beguines. 20. Official stages of this developm ent are 1274, the Council of Lyon, the Provincial Synodes in Cologne, 1307, and in Mainz and Trier in 1310, and finally the general ban of Begine forms of living by the Council of Vienne, 1311/12 (Leicht, 1999: 98). In 1317 the Bishop of Straburg organized the
Gerald Raunig 130 first regular episcopal inquisition on German soil (Cohn, 1970: 165; Dinzelbacher, 1993: 55-58). 21. Hadewijch, Beatrijs von Nazareth and Mechthild von Magdeburg wrote in German, Marguerite Porete in French (Gndinger, 1987: 225; Dinzelbacher, 1993: 20).
13112 Attempt to Think the Plebeian: Exodus and Constituting as Critique Isabell Lorey (Translated by Aileen Derieg) Critique is not a position outside the realm of modes of governing, it is an attitude that keeps struggles virulent. Critique is the ongoing questioning of the way of being governed. Against the background of these succinct theses by Foucault (1997a, 2000: 347), it is possible to focus on the fundamental fragility and instability of governmental circumstances. Questioning naturalized, stable circumstances means not only showing that things have become as they are and can therefore be changed again, but also, as Foucault says in his text on critique, always principally thinking the possible disappearance of certain relations of government. With and beyond Foucault, I would like to propose an immanent manner of resistive critique, in wh ich rejection and refusal can be understood as a productive practice. When I speak of refusal as critique in the following, I want to introduce refusal in a seemingly paradoxical movement not as a simple negation, but rather as productivity. In addition, I want to show how it b ecomes imaginable to elude certain relations of government, specifically not as entering an outside of power relations, but rather as an immanent exodus. In the winter of 1977, a year before his text on critique, Foucault gave an interview entitled Powers and Strategies, in which he clarified his understanding of critique and resistance with the help of a new contextualization. In this conversation Foucault brought up, in a relatively abrupt and brief way, the example of the plebeians, the social formation representing a foundation of the Roman Republic.1
Isabell Lorey 132 This brief reference from Foucault is also interesting, because the interview was conducted by Jacques Rancire, who would later base his political theory, not least of all, on the relationship of domination between patricians and plebeians. Ho wever, Rancire subjected ancient Roman history from the fifth century BCE to a relatively abbreviated and shifted reading that would not be an example for the understanding of critique and resistance that I want to represent here (Rancire, 2002: 35). I find Foucaults brief mention of the plebeians considerably more interesting, although he does not hi storically analyze them, but instead introduces them as an abstract figure of resistance and critique (the plebeian). He writes: The plebs certainly have no sociological reality. However, there is always something in the body of society, in the classes, the groups and in the individuals themselves, which evades power relations in a certain sense; something that is not more or less malleable or recalcitrant raw material, but rather a centrifugal movement, a contrary, liberated energy. (Foucault, 2003: 542) This is an important thought for what I would like to show; here Foucault considers the recalcitrant as belonging to that which is formed, better perhaps as that which emerges through power relations. What evades them, on the other hand, he calls contrary, centrifugal. The centrifugal refers to the energy of fleeing away from the center. What evades power relations is a force that flees, e-vades, departs. Critique can be understood accordingly as fleeing.2 Foucault continues: The plebs undoubtedly do not exist, but there is something plebeian. There is something plebeian in the bodies and souls, it is in the individual, in the proletariat, in the bourgeoisie, but with various expansions, forms, energies and orig ins. The part of the plebs forms less of an outside in relation to the power relations, but rather perhaps their boundaries, their flip-side, their echo. (Foucault, 2003: 542) And further, this plebeian reacts to every advance of power with an evading movement; this motivates every new development of the constellation of power (2003: 542). For this reason, it is indispensable for every analysis of dispositifs of power to assume the perspective of the plebs, specifically that of the reve rse side and the boundary of power. In order to think the plebeian, I would like to briefly recount a part of
Attempt to Think the Plebeian 133 the more or less actual history of th e plebeians, specifically the start of the struggles with the patricians at the beginning of the Roman Republic. Let us return to the period in the early fifth century BCE. I will subsequently transform the strategic struggles of the plebeians into an abstract figure again, in order to understand critique and resistance as productive refusal. In telling of the struggles between the patricians and plebeians, I refer primarily to the line of the hi storiography of Titus Livius. The Roman historiographer wrote a chronol ogy of the political history of Rome beginning with the time of the kings in the sixth century BCE up to the time of his own life, the period of the principality of Augustus in the first century BCE. In other wo rds, Livius was writing almost 400 years after the events to be recounted now. There are no written sources for this period, for which reason, among others, Livius account has had such a strong historical influence. It is relatively certain that Livius would have had no interest in the reading I offer of what the plebeians were doing in the early fifth century BCE in Rome. In his historiography he was primarily inte rested in highlighting the strengths and the glory of Rome and representing the history in such a way that it necessarily culminated in the rule of Augustus. This is one reason why Livius, in all his detailed representations of conflicts, ultimately always emphasizes the concordia, the Roman concord. The conflicts that interest me here are those between the patricians, the Roman aristocracy, and the plebeians, a very heterogeneous mixture of mostly Roman peasants, who were differently positioned, especially economically, but who were all consid ered free in terms of personal status; they were not slaves, but they had few political rights. We find ourselves at the beginning of the Ro man Republic. The last tyrannical king had been driven out a few years before, and a republic was established under the rule of the patricians. Republican order could not yet be characterized as stable, and pa tricians and plebeians did not form a homogeneous group. My focus on the events of the early Roman Republic consists of the question of how that which is called secession in the ancient sources can be unde rstood as a political division or separation, specifically as the depart ure of the plebeians from Rome. I would like to theorize th is event as exodus. Livius places the history of the first of three secessions explicitly in the context of military service and indebtedness: according to his
Isabell Lorey 134 account, around 495 BCE the situati on in Rome became increasingly tense in terms of both domestic and foreign policies. The conflict between the patrician senators and the plebs broke out especially because of the plebeians who had ended up in debt bondage, were in other words economically dependent on a patrician patron. Then these indebted plebeians protested increasingly audibly that they were permitted to risk their lives for th e freedom of Rome, but in times of peace were kept in servitude as a kind of serf (Liv. 2,23,1-2).3 Following several victorious wars against the Volsci, Sabines and Aurunci, a promised edict was not gr anted, a decree that had promised the plebeians security and protection of property and familia during a campaign. Debt bondage was not ended. The patrician senators feared rebellions and conspiracies among the plebeians, but as creditors they supported the further disregard of the decree (Liv. 2,31,7 ff.; 2,32,1). For this reason, they attempted agai n to obligate the plebeians fit for military service to the existing pledge of allegiance and gave the legions the command march out of the city because of a presumably expected attack. According to Livius, that a ccelerated the outbreak of outrage (Liv. 2,32,1). The armed plebeian men, following Livius dramatic account, then considered whether they should murder the consuls to prevent conscription. Instead of implementi ng these kinds of ideas, however, the plebeians fit for military service did something completely different: they refused and withdrew, accord ing to Livius, without command from the consuls to the Sacred Moun tain (Liv. 2,32,2), to a hill outside the boundaries of Rome and thus beyond the sphere of influence of the patrician rulers. This exodus from Rome marks the first secession of the plebeians. The exodus of the plebeians, going out of the city, beyond the boundaries of the city, means revealing the boundary of the patrician dominated power relations at the sa me time. Becoming aware of the boundary also means leaving, withdrawing, and thus no longer taking this boundary as an absolute horizon. Foucault writes that the plebeian forms less of an outside in relation to the power relationships, but perhaps its boundary instead (Foucault, 2003: 542). The exodus does not lead into a beyond the realm of power. Instead it involves a withdrawal and leaving that result s in a centrifugal force, which motivates a new development of the assemblage of power. The plebs
Attempt to Think the Plebeian 135 dynamized the demarcation of patrician dominated power relationships, the structure of power in Rome began to move, to change. The plebeians strategy of fighting for their political, economic and legal goals with a secession is still extremely unusual today. No indications can be found in the existing sources that this could have involved a civil war, nor even a singled armed battle between patrician and plebeian men. The struggle against patrician rule consisted at first exclusively in disobedience. It was a refusal of obedience in both military and political terms, a revocation of the acceptance of constraining patrician power. Those who refused, without using their weapons to fight, were the armed plebeian men.4 In other words, they were the ones who, under other circumstances, defended Rome an d thus always also its patrician dominated power relationships agai nst warring attackers from the outside. These plebeians then with drew from armed battle to enforce their internal political and economic interests. They refused allegiance to the patricians, both as commanders and as creditors. This revocation of the acceptance of patrician power through refusal and exodus from political and economic limitation is an example for the questioning, the rejection of the acceptableness, the self-evidence of modes of governing that Foucault addresses in his text on critique. And according to the post-Operaist philosopher Paolo Virno, this revocation, this refusal can be called radical disobedience (Virno, 2004a: 69), because with their ex odus, the plebeians eluded the jurisdiction of laws and commands. It was important to Livius to write that it was without command from th e consuls (Liv. 2,32,2) that the plebeians went out to the sacred moun tain. The plebs eluded by leaving. They not only acted here on their own authority, but with their action they fundamentally questioned the imperium the consuls authority of command, in other words the struct ure of public rule in Rome. In this respect the secession of the plebeians can be understood as exodus. However, it is not the form of exodus of the Israelites, who did not return to Egypt (Walzer, 1986). The exodus of the Plebeians signified a strategy of self-constituti on as a political alliance. And at the same time, the exodus, the withdrawal through departure, is a means of pressure and threat to expre ss political demands for rights. When they arrived on the sacred mountain, as Livius continues the story, the plebeian men set up a str ong camp without being attacked or
Isabell Lorey 136 attacking. During their stay on th e sacred mountain, the plebeians formed an alliance with an oath and agreed in sacred laws to install plebeian tribunes for their protect ion and to achieve their political interests. These tribuni plebis were to be invulnerable, sacrosanct and have a right to aid for the plebs. Ne gotiators and the patriciate accepted these demands of the now constitute d plebs. From this point on, the plebs were granted their own sacrosanct officials, and anyone who violated the tribuni plebis faced the death penalty. Following the election of two tribunes the plebeians returned to Rome (Liv. 2,32,4-33,3; 3,55,7; 3,55,10). The plebeians departed three time s, three times they returned, as their struggle was for a republican po litical legal order in Rome. From the beginning, the plebeian exodus wa s thus not something new in the sense of founding a city of their ow n with its own constitution. Yet it was also not solely a reaction, but rather an action specifically because this withdrawal was the first act for a newly invented constituting. This constituting, along with the plebei an power/order emerging in it, heralded the instrument and the wea pon for intervening in the existing patrician power and rulership order that had become endangered and unstable due to the exodus. There was no new order thus created in a new place, but rather an alternative order as a means of intervention (Fiori, 1996). First of all, however, the plebeian exodus called the power relationships radically into questi on, because secession meant eluding binarity, the binarity between comma nd/law on the one hand and revolt on the other, in order to return again with a shared capacity and fight. In Livius account, the capacity space of the plebeian, so to speak, is the sacred mountain a few miles outside th e city. It is the space of alliance and organizing. Without sufficient political rights and without any representation of interests, the plebeians invented th emselves in a sense independently from the existing patrician order and structures of rule as capable of political action. Their strategy for this consisted primarily in a selfempowerment that I would like to consider with the term constituent power.5 In keeping with the various meanings of the Latin verb constituo the term constituent power moves in a semantic field of situate, together, set, settle, but also to decide, to create and to determine. The prefix conimbues constituo with a strong meaning of the shared, of
Attempt to Think the Plebeian 137 joint situating. This line of meanin g is the basis for common agreement and decision-making, con-stituting in other words, found a common con-stitution, as Gerald Raunig puts it in his essay in the last section of this volume. Against this background the plebs assembled on the sacred mountain as a community of interest s, as an alliance: according to Livius, they settled themselves there securely, in a strong camp with wall and moat and, as he emphasizes, without leaders (Liv. 2,32,4). No one forced or led the plebei ans, they (re-)moved (themselves) together, giving themselves tribunes as representatives only in a second step. The formation as an alliance in itially developed without leadership, without being led and governed. It was only in the process of constituting that representation first emerged, only then were the tribunes elected. The plebeians decided to bind themselves together with an oath and to secure themselves politically and legally by their own authority through the alliance outside patriciandefined legality. When I speak of a plebeian constituent power, I mean th is capacity to join together, to protect and defend oneself based on a refusal of obedience. This form of critique, the refusal of obedience is, in this sense, a productive practice. Productivity relates to the constituting, the composition, productivity refers to the centrifugal force and the constituent capacity. Constituent pl ebeian power is the capacity of composition, of constituting an or der of ones own, which means the capacity for (self-)organizing. The pl ebeians constituted themselves as a political community of interests, not as a rigid order that separated itself permanently in Rome to oppose the patricians in an equally rigid dichotomous relationship. Rather, th e constituent power of the plebs affected a flexible order, which instigated a political, legal and economic transformation process, ultimately leading in 287 BCE into the Lex Hortensia. This law determined that the plebiscite also officially no longer represented only the decrees and resolutions of the plebeians, but was now legally binding for everyone living in Rome. The plebeian constituent power, this capacity is thus instituted in several acts: first the withdrawal th rough departure, the exodus, then through the act of the oath and legislation, and finally through the creation of an office, the holders of which, the tribuni plebis, are to protect the plebs with the threat of the most severe punishment for
Isabell Lorey 138 their violation. With these acts the plebeians turned their meager political capacity into such a pot ent power that they were armed for conflicts with the patricians. The exodus and the self-constitution of the plebs modified the power relationships in which the st ruggles of order between plebs and patriciate took place, instead of accep ting the power of the patricians as an immutable horizon. Yet the battle st rategy of the plebeian men is one that is in turn limited and does not question, revoke or reject relationships of power and domina tion beyond ones own interests. Throughout all the confrontations be tween plebs and the patriciate, the domination of the pater familias in the domus was not fundamentally questioned, just as little as slavery was. For an abstract figure of resistive critique, it must also be stated again in this framework: the capacity of a constituent power always remains limited itself as well, produces exclusions and always also manifests certain relationships of power and domination instead of rejecting, reversing or even making them disappear. Eluding constraining power relationships is only possible to the degree, only with the means available for becoming aware of the limitation. There is not one way of rejection, not one way of withdrawal, not one way of critique, but always only specifically limited ways that are differently actualized. Nevertheless, what is true for plebeian struggles is that they change the contexts in which a problem emerges as a problem, rather than choosing one or another solution already offered. They change the assemblage of power and multiply the power relationships.6 Without the constituting of the pl ebeian, power relationships appear as the power, as relationships of domination without alternatives, the boundaries of which purportedly sign ify the horizon. The plebeian must be constituted, otherwise it remains a potentiality that inevitably emerges in power relationships. It is only when it is constituted as the plebeian and thereby evades limitati ons that it newly composes itself. The plebeian always signifies an immanent refusal; that is why it is productive. The plebeian is the capacity to productively refuse power relations and elude them in this way, whereby the assemblage of power permanently changes and one or the other constraining mode of governing vanishes.
Attempt to Think the Plebeian 139 Notes 1. My own reflections on the plebeian, which are only briefly sketched in the following, are part of a larger study of the Roman struggles of order between the patricians and the plebeian s and a resultant political theory of immunization. 2. The concept of fleeing is not a slip on Foucaults part; in 1982, only a few years before his death, he wrote: There is no relationship of power without the means of escape or possible flight (Foucault, 2003: 346). 3. See Titus Livius (=Livy), Ab urbe condita, http://www.thelatin library.com/ liv.html. 4. The plebeian men fought with the exodus from Rome for their full political freedom, meaning to be regarded as free to the same degree as patrician men. The free Roman women, patrician and plebeian women, were regarded as free only to a limited extent, as they were subject to the authority of their pater familias or their husband. Female and male slaves had no personal rights at all in the Roman Republic, they were considered unfree. 5. This not only ties into central theorems of political history, such as Antonio Negris Repubblica Constituente: Umri sse einer konstituierenden Macht, published in Negri, Lazzarato and Virno (1998: 67-82), Raunig (2007: 5966), and Negri (1999). The term constituent power also ultimately signifies a continuation of appraisals of secessi on in antiquity studies (cf. Wieacker, 1988: 379; Mommsen, 1971: 274; and Ungern-Sternberg, 2001: 314). 6. Here I subscribe to Virnos ideas (2004a: 70).
14113 Inside and Outside the Art Institution: Self-Valorization and Montage in Contemporary Art Marcelo Expsito (Translated by Nuria Rodrguez, supervised by Aileen Derieg) This text was written on 1 October 2006 as a broad and immediate response (hence, its informal style) to a short questionnaire posed by a Spanish digital magazine on contemporary art and critical theory. It was not published; it is reproduced he re almost unaltered. The original questions have been replaced by ep igraphs describing the subject matter that the different sections dealt with. The title of this text paraphrases an important essay by the GermanAmerican art historian Be njamin H.D. Buchloh: Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and Montage in Cont emporary Art. Written in 1982, Buchlohs influential essay sought to provide an explicitly political and historically grounded approach (going back to particular instances of politicization in the classic avan t-garde movements, such as John Heartfields photomontage) to specifi c practices that, beginning in the late 1970s but more emphatically during the 1980s, opposed the hegemony of the market within the arts institution with its emphasis on strong notions of work and artist through methodologies like the appropriation of images and the reinve ntion of montage. The (not quite fully-developed) hypothesis underlying my text is that the procedures analyzed by Buchloh were neutralized by the new hegemonies at the heart of the arts institution, which were, however, integrated into (or are in a sense the starting point for) the new forms of unbounded politicization of artistic practice that have been taking place in synchrony with the laborious prod uction of a new cycle of struggles,
Marcelo Expsito 142 which originated in the late 1980s and has filled the past decade with a series of explosions. Another aspect of my hypothesi s that needs to be developed suggests that the certain exhaustion of those same critical practices of appropriation and montage that Buch lohs essay tried to endow with critical and political meaning was pr ecisely due to their confinement within the margins of the arts institution, and the central importance they continued to give the very instit ution that they criticized because of its role as virtually the only space of legitimization and valorization. Some new forms of politicization of artistic practices based themselves on the assumptions established by these earlier critical practices, putting into practice various kinds of going beyond, as well as going in and out of the institution and using ot her processes that deny, displace or relativize the arts institutions centr ality as a space for valorization and legitimization. As explained below, it seems appropriate to apply the Operaist notion of the self-valorization of labor to these processes. A Critique of the Traditional Division of Artistic Labor I dont know whether I can say anything new on this subject, because to me, the situation seems quite clear: this division was breached a long time ago and weve moved beyond it, although it probably continues to hold a contradictory symbolic and polit ical hegemony in the art field. Part of my training took place in Spains independent video movement of the 1980s and 90s, in which traditional role hierarchies were almost totally broken down. It was perfectly normal for activities like writing, criticism, the organizing of activities, editing and publishing, the creation and distribution of works and so on to be carried out by those who made up the network. This shouldnt necessarily be attributed to an unusually high level of political awareness. It can probably be partly explained by the fact that, at th e time, video was developing on the fringes of the art institution, and we know that there have been similar experiences of hierarchies being dismantled and roles shared or interchanged on the periphery of th e institution at various times and places in history, not just in the re cent past. It could be said that the breakdown of this traditional divisi on of labor is deeply rooted in the tradition of the avant-garde movements, and it is therefore, from certain points of view, quite traditional itself. So, Im not really sure that prac tices which avoid falling into this particular division of labor can automatically be considered, as is
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 143 sometimes tritely claimed, a negation of a traditional model or a search for new or other paradigms. Rather I think that at their best, they show their own strength, they enjoy their own ontological consistency when they are rooted in history, so they cant always be interpreted in terms of their alternative nature in relation to the traditional model. It was a long time ago now that I stoppe d seeing my own work in terms of putting forth an alternative to a central model, and started seeing it instead as a form of positivity, an exploration of independently consistent ways of working. I began by describing the symbolic and political hegemony of a particular division of labor in the ar t field as contradictory because the vague artist-entrepreneur model has become so widespread that it has burst its banks. In the cultural and the art field, labor now perfectly matches the communicative labor paradigm that is at the centre of the post-Fordist mode of production, but division of labor still has a symbolic hegemony and is upheld by economic and institutional interests. Today, the work of cultur al producers is de facto essentially communicative, linguistic and semiotic It fundamentally involves the production, through language, of pro cesses that are usually exploited by institutions when they valorize them exclusively at the moment that they materialize as objects or events that are profitable in economic, political and/or symbolic terms. The way I see it, the key to the contradiction lies in the fact that upholding one particular division of labor is no longer natural it isnt an inhere nt aspect of todays most highly developed forms of cultural production or most of its major trends: all it does is support that particular wa y of valorizing artistic labor the moment of crystallization into marketable objects or certain kinds of events. When the decision is taken to valori ze artistic labor under different forms, in different places and times, through other processes, and, above all, to self-valorize artistic labor, this doesnt really mean negating or criticizing a certain model of the division of labor: it means that the instituted model simply loses its relevance. That said, it is important to a dd that although within the art institution there is a growing accepta nce of a particular, vague artistmanager model (a slippery term, right? We could also add the ideas of the artist-entrepreneur, curator-artist and artist-businessman, just as Maurizio Lazzarato speaks somewhat provocatively of the post-Fordist
Marcelo Expsito 144 worker as an entrepreneur or busin essman...), this doesnt necessarily entail a critical or alternative practice, nor one that moves towards selfvalorization. It did, to a large exte nt, thirty years ago, during the cycle around 1968, with its mood of wi despread criticism of social institutions, just as it did with the explosive meeting of politics and the avant-garde in the period between the wars. Today it is an ambiguous model (just look at how different rel ational artists and curators work). The way in which a traditional function of artistic labor is currently being blurred corresponds, almost bl ow by blow, to the forms of the flexibilization of labor in the context of production in more general terms. Just as in renewed capitalism over all, the flexibility of artistic or cultural labor is profoundly ambivalent from the start. But the process is irreversible: we have no choice but to work within this contemporary condition. Artistic Work and Non-artistic Work: On the Artisticness of Art Labor The distinction that is sometimes made in the work of certain artists (I count myself among them) between labor that is not strictly artistic, and that which explicitly is, corre sponds to a hierarchical taxonomy based on the primacy of a somewhat ol d-fashioned idea of what an art work is. Near the end of his life, El Lissitzky claimed that he considered the pavilions he had designed for th e Bolshevik government in the early stages of the Soviet Union to be his most important art work. The historiographic distinctions that are usually made between artistic work, design and works for th e State apparatus in order to taxonomize Lissitzkys career, are clearly an aggression against the nature of his practice. I think it woul d be much more useful to take his own statement seriously and ask oursel ves: but where the hell is the art work in his pavilions? In historical terms, for many years I have considered names like Lissitzky, Klucis, Heartfield, Renau or the Benjamin of the reproducible work of art and the author as prod ucer to be the foundational paradigm (precisely because they are neither unique nor isolated) of a particular way of surpassing a pre-existing traditional model. They marked an opening up to a type of practices that didnt start from scratch in any sense, but marked the start of forms that no longer negate other, predominant models, but organize their own coherence, their own positivity. A pavilion designed by Li ssitzky is a collective project that
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 145 includes multidisciplinary dynamics, and contains art works and other things that don't strictly qualify as su ch, as well as an infinite number of in-between elements. Its a work ba sed on co-operative principles and the sharing of many different kinds of skills. And it radically assumes two characteristics that strongly cha llenged the then-traditional model in order to leave it behind: its usef ul nature and its communicative dimension. When almost a century ago avant-garde art had to openly question its political function and fa ce its communicative dimension, no longer questioning them in terms of content but rather incorporating them structurally, I think it marked the start of what we are now, or what we may still become. (Incidentally, one of the artists w hom Ive most admired, Ulises Carrin, worked without rest and di dnt produce much legible art work. His practice largely consisted of interventions in the dominant communicative processes, or in producing others, constantly shifting the form and the moment of (self-)valorization, always changing. Interrupting communication channels, producing alternative communication and weaving together organization and networks this was his labor.) I think that in historical terms, certain avant-garde movements can teach us two things: firstly, that th ere can be art without art works (Godard used to say that cinema is one thing and films are another, and films often dont have anything to do with cinema: thus the history of cinema should be rigorously differentiated from the more usual history of films and directors. For some time now Ive wondered: How can you write a history of art without art works, or where the usual notion of an art work is radically de-centred?); secondly, that it is possible to make a kind of art that doesnt appear to be so (as soon as one looks outside the European scene and the classic avant-garde movements, the examples increase exponentially). I d ont think that the first lesson leads us necessarily to hackneyed academic chattering on the dematerialization of the object. Rather, it leads to the radical change of mentality that occurs at specific moments in history in which the valorization of artistic labor comes into focus as a relevant political problem, together with the definition of what new forms, as a result, this labor has to take on in order to achieve self-valorization. The second lesson refers us to the contingency statute that characterizes artistic labor, which doesnt always have to give primary importance to being recognized as such in accordance with the primacy of current
Marcelo Expsito 146 legibility criteria sanctioned by the corresponding institutional fields (the legibility criteria that determine an art works artistic status, which we now know to be contingent and whic h are themselves historical, in no way absolute and essential; in no way disinterested. In this sense, its advisable to always keep in mind, for example, the lessons of feminist readings of the history of art and fe minist film theory), in particular when the formalization of the work or its processes shift outside a particular institutional field, or flow in and out of it. In this latter case, its particularly important to be aware that the artisticness of work is not an identity or an essential or pre-existing condition: it is a contingency that can correspond to tact ical or political functions, and its sanctioning as an art work has to be disputed and challenged in discursive and material terms agains t the institutions common sense through conflict and negotiation. This is why I think it is essential to practice writing and criticism, which shouldnt be understood as the occupation of those who emit inspir ed opinions, but as the field in which legitimacy criteria and the valo rization of practices are negotiated through conflict (Butler, 2002). Montage In my opinion, the most momentous innovation that the artistic avantgarde movements contributed to twen tieth-century culture and politics simultaneously, is montage. Im not referring to montage as a stylistic exercise that folds in on itself, bu t the kind that, whether in Tucumn Arde, Heiner Mller or Alexander Kluge, constitutes a tool for thinking for critical thinking. In this se nse, montage brings heterogeneous things together into a fragmented whole that highlights its structural discontinuity, shattering the illusion of self-consistency and unity of both form and discourse, withou t relinquishing the production of meaning as a result. This convergence of a diversity of things deserves to be conceived as a part of a whol e that in itself points elsewhere. I marvel at how much this invention can continue to contribute to the construction of forms and discursive practice at the same time. Ive always considered my incursi ons into editorial activities, for example, to be either fully or partly artistic projects. At least to some extent, the publishing projects Ive participated in usually consist of taking elements that are at differe nt stages of materialization and diffusion within larger networks or flows which we consider ourselves part of catalyzing through reorganizing. In very simple terms, the
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 147 editorial process becomes a montag e technique that discontinuously articulates a discourse that then enters into circulation once more. Inversely, Im increasingly less likely to describe the artistic research, teaching or curatorial projects that Ive generally worked on as hybrids or interdisciplinary projects. Instea d, I see them as suspended between the categories of art, criticism and editing; technically, they almost always consist of small exercises in construction and montage. In short, I think that the usual distinctions that separate what some of us do into actual art works and secondary work (criticism, editing, writing...) is inappropriate when it comes to considering what needs to be done, because I believe, above all, in the labor of construction and montage that occasionally produces things that cant necessarily be read as art works. Ive always felt suspicious of the ongoing presence of the surrealist object in certain kinds of contemporary art, as well as the way in which dominant conceptualism and its effects managed to reintroduce the fetishism of form through the back door. I only have a little faith left in Dada now, whereas Im still a believer in constructivism and productivism, modern political documentary and montage cinema. Almost all of the art that I still continue to learn from consists in constructing, (re)structuring, combining and putting together, in order to produce artefacts whose legibility is ambivalent, always siteand time-specific. The Artist as Multifaceted Work er: Contradiction, Adaptation and Complicity with the Institutional Medium It may be interesting to pause for a moment and consider this strange adjective, multifaceted. The histor y of modern Western art needed to create a narrative that would include, and thus normalize, the ruptures caused by some of the avant-garde move ments, so it captured Soviet art, for example, articulated its (re)pres entation by organizing it into a narrative that separated biographical lines into pieces that made up a plural movement, and created a narrative for each of those separate and more or less isolated lines in turn, based on an organization that classified their art works into different styles and formats. This taxonomy and juxtaposition produced th e effect of simultaneity in the way artists used techniques, language s and media. At moments like this, the history of twentieth century art constructs the myth of the modern, multifaceted artist. Alexandr Rodc henko and Varvara Stepanova never set out to be multifaceted artists. Their multifacetedness is an effect of
Marcelo Expsito 148 the way in which the history of modern art recovers the ruptures that these artists represent by incorporat ing them into a normalized narrative in which conflict has been tamed. Their work isnt multifaceted: if anything, it is conflictive. In terms of work in general, to days workers arent multifaceted: they are multi-exploited, or rather, subject to a regime of flexible exploitation.1 It would be amusing to switch the concepts and consider how the illusion of the multifacetedness that is now being required of workers in order to make the new form of capitalist control of the workforce more bearable is similar to the kind of flexible exploitation that Vladimir Tatlin or Liubov Popov a are subjected to by the history of modern art in order to extract some kind of cultural added value that fuels its existence and in return di storts the nature of the original, simultaneously artistic and political, experience. The other term that I find curiou s is complicity. I appreciate the clarity with which it is stated, but it is based on a way of framing the issue that I find inoperative: What should one declare oneself, sitting on the bench of the accused? Guilty, innocent of acting in collusion or complicity with an institutional syst em? (I cant speak for anyone else, but Im not in this in order to submit myself to a political trial or to earn myself a place in heaven). If the idea is to question whether critical positions genuinely question the st ate of things or, on the contrary, help to reproduce it, I think a very simplified answer would be: both. But this does not go far enough. In this order of things, labor in art is no different to the way in which post-Fordist labor in general oscillates between self-valorization and control (subjugation), and its often paradoxical because it operates under the conditions of autonomy and subjection simultaneously. For much of last century, artistic and cultural labor was an extraordinary social activity outside of the ordinary, exceptional. Today, the characteristics that have traditionally defined it (deregulated activity not subject to the same discipline as i ndustrial work, with an emphasis on the value of self expression, giving maximum importance to subjectivity...) are increasingly b ecoming the paradigm for the core forms of labor in renewed capitalism. In my generation, those of us w ho started off doing artistic work before political work, only gradually became aware of how our activities functioned within the arts. At the begi nning, we didnt have the slightest
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 149 idea that the flexible exploitation system we were subject to was intensive but discontinuous. Its discontinuous nature is precisely the key that makes sustainable exploitation po ssible. If your work is at the disposal of an institution in a continuous, regulated way, you immediately consider entering a standa rd labor for wages relationship. If your work is at the institutions disposal in a discontinuous, deregulated way, then the relationship will be based on casual labor for income (honorarium) terms. Discont inuous income, rather than a continuous wage, is what you get paid circumstantially for rendering services on a casual basis; in this case the rest of the time is yours. But the work of self-education, training or testing, preparation, production and so on that is carried out in th e periods when your relationship to the institution is inactive is time that you use for producing, for the rendering of services, without remu neration. Thus, the exploitation of artistic labor is intensive, because it is exercised in the overall time that you commit to your work, but the k ey to its economical sustainability for the institution resides in th e fact that it is formalized discontinuously: you only get paid fo r the specific project, exhibition or investigation or the number of hours you work. The extent to which this kind of exploitation is widely accepted in the arts is because, obviously, your activity is presumably gratifying in terms of vocational self-expression and freedom. Also because your subjection to the institution is irregular in terms of labor-income, but constant in symbolic terms and in its forms of subj ectivization: the artist is taught to always turn to the institution as a gu arantee of legitimacy and, above all, the relevance of his or her own activity. There was an inescapable structural contradiction for those of us who started to think about the politicization of our art practice without breaking out of the vicious circle of its valorization predominantly within the institution. The currents of thought based on a critique of institutions and certain forms of public and critical art, and some critical theory of the visual representations that fuelled us from the 1980s until part of the 1990s were like manna from heaven in the middle of the desert of the postmodern cultural co unterrevolution (as Virno calls it). Nonetheless, it was becoming increa singly clear that critical practice would only be able to put forth it s own consistent and powerful forms of creation (and self-creation!) th rough the same solution that some avant-garde movements adopted when they reached the same crossroads: a critique trapped within its own field. What they did was to
Marcelo Expsito 150 look to other times, places and forms of the valorization of artistic labor apart from or as well as those that involved a relationship with the institutional apparatus. In terms of my own experience, I think this didnt start to take place until th e 1990s, when the possibility arose for the self-valorization of artistic labor linked to new forms of protest and new social autonomy dynamics. I be lieve that this is behind the enormous importance of the new co llaborative experiences of what where originally (mostly) artists grou ps such as La Fiambrera in Spain, Ne pas plier in France, Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC) and Etctera in Argentina, and probably many others that have either faded, or were less consistent, or we have yet to discover: they reinvented a way of valorizing artistic labor, at a time when art practice was already clearly paradigmatic of post-Fordist production overall. They brought it out of its state of subjection (even if it wa s a critical subjection) to flexible exploitation, and allowed this self-valorization to help strengthen the new social opposition dynamics that had emerged precisely from the post-Fordist neo-liberal hegemony. This way of breaking out of the circle in which critical practices were imprisoned certainly didnt solve a ll the problems involved in the ways in which critical work in the arts is subject to the institution a complex relationship that includes aspects ranging from the symbolic to the economic. But it did favor conditions that allowed it to come to light and be approached from other ma terial and political positions. This condensed account seems to culminate in the idea that it would, therefore, be necessary to take this dynamic to the limit and bring about a pure and simple escape fr om the art institution or to relate to it from the outside in a merely cynical or instrumental way. Ive never considered this to be the only possible conclusion; in fact, it doesnt seem to me to be necessarily a prod uctive political position. For many reasons. One of these reasons is patently obvious: the production of artistic or cultural artefacts is not e quivalent to the production of cars or weapons. The results of our kind of production have a complex function in semiotic capitalism. Regardless of the attractiveness of the post-Situationist perspective, there is no rule stating that cultural artefacts are not, or cannot be, anything other than (or as well as) goods or tools for the ideological control of consciousness. In empirical terms, its not sustainable for all forms of labor in the industry of the spectacle to be objectified, and I cant stand the hypothesis of the systems omnipotent capacity to recu perate or co-opt. Im not saying I
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 151 believe in the intrinsic goodness of culture or its essential legitimacy as a means of emancipation! But in the face of so much (both cynical and erudite) skepticism within our instit utional field, I have no choice but to declare myself a believer (that is, of liberation theology!) in the potential of critical labor within art, cultur al and educational institutions not only to enlighten some minds but, abov e all, to influence the established modes of the production of knowledge and subjectivation. Nevertheless, I think that the ope rations carried out within the institutional field should seek to go beyond it, and above all valorize that which is produced, at least partly outside of it. To me, this is not just a political necessity but more important ly one of lifes lessons. Because in this way, many of us found a way to break out of the desperate circle of critical theories that seems unable to do anything other than wait to be recuperated for the umpteenth time. Whether a particular critical theory is recuperated or not isnt as important as what it was able to ge nerate in addition to being put into practice. What counts is the directi on in which your work contributes to mobilizing individual and collective energies, which it can do in many diverse ways and on a bigger or smaller scale. I don't think declaring each of us an accomplice to a situation leads anywhere, except to widespread cynicism. Likewise, it disturbs me to hear people whose work I admire state that were all on th e inside, were all institution or were all prostitutes in the arts an d leave it at that. These declarations are not only inaccurate, they also stop short, and I think that they provoke the responsibility to immediately respond: Then, whats to be done? For quite a few years now, there has been an ongoing stream of projects that approach the relationship to institutions in ways that are neither cynical nor instrumental. They aim to generate critical practices within the institutions with the idea that they should be valorized there and at the same time at some other time and place, in other ways. The idea would be to move from the inside to the outside of the institution in a continuum that doesnt avoid the institutional mode of formalization, and even examines it without making it the central or unique objective.2 The production of networks and flows that dont heed pre-existing boundaries and instead establish their own kinds of public sphere a concept that were pr obably starting to find a bit static is surely one of the most important inventions to have emerged from political creativity in this new cycle of protest.
Marcelo Expsito 152 But to understand the extent to which we are obviously dealing with difficult and problematic dynamics, we dont have to look any further than Desacuerdos.3 In terms of what I am proposing here, I see Desacuerdos as a clear example of how extremely difficult it is to negotiate the simultaneity of different times and forms of evaluating art labor, especially when most of the labor comes from the outside or fringes of the field. That may have been the principal failure of those of us who were involved in co-ordination in different ways and with varying responsibilities: to have made it impossible for there to be compatibility, at the core of the pr oject and in a complex way, between the different dynamics and interests in relation to valorizing the work put into it. It was important to try, and we can only hope there will be many more attempts. And I dont think that this negates the projects other, equally important accomplishmen ts (you only have to look at the publications edited). But the fact that this particular failure took place amongst individuals and institutions th at had spent a long time fighting in favor of precisely those kinds of principles, makes us take a much more cautious approach and exercise a greater degree of reflection and modesty. I think that the outcome of Desacuerdos inevitably demands that we consider the problems of sc ale, rhythms, the division of labor and the way decision-making processes are managed in critical production projects linked to instituti ons. In addition (to continue with the question of the relationship betw een criticism, art practice and art institutions), I think it demonstrates the need to turn the clich that behind the institutions, in the en d, are the people upside down. Because in the end, there in the ba ckground, behind the people, are the institutions (that through inertia have many different ways of applying the microphysics of power), and all the other power relationships that play a part in the arts, outside of th e institutions. In theory, this isnt a problem. Foucault would insist that hi s critique of institutions should not have a paralyzing effect, and that it didn't refer to an idea of essential freedom, because attempts at constructing freedom and the enjoyment of freedom itself could only take place inside given power relations. I think that the kinds of contradictory and complex ways of proceeding that I am dealing with here (and which I certainly dont claim will exclude others!) are essential in todays world, with all its difficulties. But I also think that futu re attempts through trial and error, conflict and negotiation, will need more politics, not better intentions.4
Inside and Outside the Art Institution 153 Notes 1. See http://en.wikipe dia.org/wiki/Precarity 2. See http://transform.eipcp.net/calendar/1153261452, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/0406/crs/en, http://www.fridericianum-kassel.de/ausst/ausst-kollektiv.html# interfunktionen_english, http://www.exargentina.org/lamuestra.html, http://transform.eipcp.net/correspondence/1177371677 3. http://www.desacuerdos.org 4. Additional links: http://www.arteleku.net/4.0/pdfs/1969intro.pdf, http://www.arteleku.net/4.0/pdfs/1969-1.pdf, http://www.arteleku.net/4.0/pdfs/1969-3.pdf, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/0106/brumaria/es, http://usuarios.lycos.es/pet e_baumann/marceloexpo.htm
15514 The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism: Perspectives on a Possible Future Nina Mntmann Only a few years ago, new institutionalism was recognized as a curatorial intention to create an ac tive space that is part community center, part laboratory and part academy1. I quote these attributes from the profile of the Rooseum in Malm, which under the directorship of Charles Esche and later Lene Crone Jensen was one of the model institutions of this new experimental and multi-functional approach to curating. At the zenith of these activities and their discourse Jonas Ekeberg edited a publication with the title New Institutionalism, in which he defined this subject as an attempt to redefine the contemporary art institution [...] ready to let go, not only of the limited discourse of the work of art as a mere object, but also of the whole institutional framework that went with it. He states further that new institutionalism was far from peripheral, but rather central, even crucial, to the contemporary art scene (Ekeberg, 2003: 9, 14). What Rooseum and other progressive art in stitutions had in common was that they were institutions of critique, which means institutions that have internalized the institutional critique that was formulated by artists in the 1970s and 90s and have developed an auto-critique that is now actively embraced by curators. Indeed, curators no longer just invite critical artists, but are themselves aiming to change institutional structures, hierarchies and functions. Reacting to the current developments, institutions of critique , from the midor late-1990s on, deployed a criticism of globalized corporate institutionalism and its consumer audience.
Nina Mntmann 156 Since then, and within a very shor t space of time, these approaches, although successful in terms of ope ning up to new local publics and gaining international recognition in the art world, have been cut down to size and things have changed dramatically. To provide a few more examples: In 2004, during my time as a curator for the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA), I worked with the Swedish artists Mike Bode and Staffan Schmidt on the proj ect Spaces of Conflict: An audiovisual, research-based essay on institutional spaces.2 The project was based on close cooperation and exchan ge among curators and directors of seven international institutions in Berlin, Oslo, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Malm and Helsinki. It is remarkable that almost all the institutions portrayed by Bode and Schmidt the Rooseum, Kunst-Werke Berlin, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, the Contemporary Art Center in Vilnius, Kunsthalle Hels inki, the x-room in Copenhagen and NIFCA itself are now in a period of profound change that demands a radical change of political course. The Rooseum is becoming a branch of the expanding Moderna Museet in Stockholm; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo has been merged with other national museums in Oslo under the umbrella of the National Museum for Contemporary Art, Architecture and De sign; Vilnius is suffering from severe budget cuts; in several places curators and directors have been replaced, which has a severe impact on the programmatic approach of the institutions, and in the case of NIFCA itself the institution has even been closed down. Most of the instit utions seem to have been put in their place like insubordinate teenagers. What is not wanted, in short, is criticality. Criticality didnt survive the corporate turn in the institutiona l landscape. This is not only due to the larger institutions that are run like branded global companies in an obvious way, like the Guggenheim, which provides the clearest example of how an institution is conceived and staged by politicians and sponsors. More and more this also applies to mid-sized and smaller institutions, such as the German Kuns tvereine or art associations, which are supposed to be experimental, but find themselves increasingly forced into curating programs sim ilar to an established Kunsthalle. This situation raises some crucial questions: What is new institutionalism today? Is there st ill anything like an institution of critique, and what does it mean in the present context? Can the discussion of the conditions of pr oduction be carried out within the institutions themselves, and what are the consequences for their internal
The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism 157 structures, functionality, programmi ng and projections? Or, as Hito Steyerl poses it in her essay in the first section of this volume: is it not rather absurd to argue that someth ing like an institution of critique exists, at a time when critical cult ural institutions are clearly being dismantled, underfunded, and subjected to the demands of a neoliberal event economy? This current situation, which goes hand in hand with the dismantling of the welfare state, produces an urgent need for emancipatory forms of action in the institutionalized art fiel d and thus for new institutions. This brings us back, first of all, to a fundamental question: What do we actually expect from an art instituti on? What do we want an institution to stand for? What desires does an institution in the art field produce? In his essay for the publication Art and its Institutions the Swedish philosopher Sven-Olov Wallenstein anal yzes institutional desires that are connected with art institutions and exposes a profound paradox by asking: Why is there such a desire for institutions, and why does the very attempt to meet it only give rise to more dissatisfaction? Referring to Guattari, he concludes that the need for facilities is an illusion, or rather a retroactive rationalization. Instead it is the very institution which, he continues, produces a certa in structure of desire, it enables a certain space where signifiers and desires can circulate, and in this sense it is just as futile to dream of a fully de-institutionalized space as it is to dream of an institution that wo uld work (Wallenstein, 2006: 121). While you cant beat this argument on the one hand, on the other the conclusion cannot be as Wallenstein al so claims to leave institutions completely aside in order to enter alternative spheres. I fully agree with the artist Gardar Eide Einarsson, w ho says, It is a classical democratic problem, whether one should engage in order to change, or simply ignore in order to establish somethin g else on the outside (the classical and in my view false distinction between alternative and oppositional) (Einarsson, cited in Ekeberg, 2003: 83). In the face of this dilemma, what is therefore required is the establishment of transgressive instit utions that question and break with the current developments of privat ization and simultaneously orient themselves towards other disciplines and areas besides the corporative business of globalized capitalism. In searching for participatory institution-forming activities, my a ttention has recently turned to the institutional situation in several re gions in the Southern hemisphere. There, the few official contempor ary art institutions mostly are
Nina Mntmann 158 inaccessible for young artists and dysf unctional as part of the public sphere, and artists and curators dont have easy access to public or private funding. These kinds of local situations where there is a lack of access to institutional infrastructure often give rise to community projects, that are characterized by their institution-forming character, such as Sarai or Khoj in Delhi, PUKAR and crit in Mumbai, or ruangrupa in Jakarta. You often find collective and occasionally interdisciplinary activities by artist s, sometimes together with curators, researchers, activists or new medi a workers. They start with a small space and very local programming, ex hibiting their own work and that of artists they know, or using the space for other community activities such as discussions or parties. In th e beginning there is thus a kind of community center or hangout for frie nds from the art field. In the regions I am talking about these activities are assuming a quasiinstitutional status that often goes hand in hand with an expansion of their activity. They then start to fu ndraise internationally, to set up residencies, offer research possibilit ies, invite foreign curators and artists, organize film programs, edit magazines and so on. In my opinion, what institutions in Western countries need to do is precisely to reduce the number of structures and standards, and disengage spaces from too many codes and contexts. Here, where we have an institutionalized art field and consequently the opportunities to participate in semi-public spaces, but also the difficulties caused by the control mechanisms of these spaces the options are somewhat different. Here there are inherently many categories and conventions for all kinds of art spaces, and alternatives are always measured against the official system that already exists and is increasingly defined by the politics of city marketing and sponsorship. It may seem paradoxical, but from this perspective, in fact we have less scope here and more control. Therefore, a conceivable new institut ion of critique would be one that maintains and expands its participation in (semi-) public space, and at the same time creates free unbranded spaces and negates dependencies. It could counter the corporate globalization that neo-capitalism created, instead enabling an active and immediate global exchange of diverse public groups and individual voices, and a critique of the nationstate. It would have to widen its scope, consider cross-genre collaborations with established as we ll as alternative organizations, and initiate multi-disciplinary activities. This conceivable critical institution could, for example, take on the form of an internationally operating
The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism 159 organized network, which strengthens various smaller, independent institutions and activities be they alternative, artist-run, or researchbased and could also set up te mporary platforms within bigger institutions. Ned Rossiter describe s the potential of organized networks for superseding modern inst itutions that are just rebooted into the digital age by reconciling their hierarchical structures of organization with the flexible, partia lly decentralized and transnational flows of culture, finance and labor. The advantage of organized networks instead is the way they function as social-technical forms that co-emerge with the development of digital information and communication technologies (Rossiter, 2006; 2007). In the art field this new institution of organized collabor ations could serve then as an information pool, a hub for variou s transdisciplinary forms of collaboration, in legal matters as a union, and as an entry for audiences to participate locally and exchange internationally. The transformative public potential of an institution so structured lies in creating diasporic public spheres, that are described by Arjun Appadurai who like Ned Rossiter deri ves his transferable model from an analysis of the globalized use of electronic media as phenomena that confound theories that depend on the continued salience of the nation-state as the key arbiter of im portant social changes (Appadurai, 2001: 4). Precisely in this lies both an internationalization as well as a democratization of the art instituti on and its research facilities, which not only breaks down or questi ons certain dominant forms of institutional politics, but also opens up a new role for the imagination in social life (Appadurai, 2001: 4). On the level of funding, groundbreaking new private as well as public foundations are required to create self-sustainable, indepe ndent and powerful alternatives a globalization from below, if you will. Notes 1. Quoted from http://www.rooseum.se 2. For a detailed description of the project, see http://eipcp.net/ transversal/0106/moentmann/en.
16115 The Political Form of Coordination Maurizio Lazzarato (Translated by Mary ONeill) Based on the model of coordination, the struggle of the intermittents et prcaires dIle de France1 is a veritable laboratory that could well highlight the demise of the political schema born of the socialist and communist tradition. Where this tradition places the emphasis on a logic of contradiction, of the political representation of an injustice that brings remarkable identities into play, the political form termed coordination is meant to be reso lutely expressive, transformist, attentive to the unstable dynamics of post-identitarian identities, of which the reality of our world is wo ven. Coordination is aimed less at the formation of a common collective that seeks its members equality, at all costs, than it is at the becomi ng of the singularities comprising it within an unstable, networked, patc hwork-loving multiplicity defying all theoretical definition as well as tr ade-union or state identification. It is a politics of experimentation that lays aside prior knowledge and opens up to the unknown, without which no new life can be envisaged. Contemporary political movements are breaking radically with socialist and communist tradition. They are deployed not according to the logic of contradiction but rather to that of difference, which does not mean that there is no conflict, opposition or struggle. Rather, these are radically altered and deployed on two asymmetric levels. Political movements and individualities are formed according to a logic of refusal, of being against, of di vision. They seem, at first sight, to reproduce the separation between them and us, between friend and enemy, which characterizes the workers movement or indeed politics itself. But this no, this assertion of division, is expressed in two
Maurizio Lazzarato 162 different ways. On the one hand, it is directed against politics, and it expresses a radical break with the rules of representation or of the staging of a division within the same world. On the other, it is the precondition for opening up to a beco ming, to a bifurcation of worlds and to the way these are created, in a confrontational manner, not a unifying one. On the first level, the struggle is represented as a flight away from institutions and the rules of politics. People quite simply escape they walk away as the peoples of the East walked away from real socialism, crossing the borders or staying in situ to recite Bartlebys formula: I would prefer not to. On the second level, the individual and collective singularities that make up the movement deploy a process of subjectivation, which involves both a composition of common platforms (collective rights) and the differential assertion of a multiplicity of practices for expression and for living. Flight, politically elusive practices on the one hand; crea tion, strategies of empowerment on the other. This new process renders the behaviors of movements and singularities opaque and incomprehensible to political scientists, sociologists, political parties and trade unions. In France, one of the most interesting devices that movements employ to hold both levels together is that of coordination. The coordination of the intermittents et prcaires dIle de France is the latest and most accomplished of the coordinations that, since the beginning of the 1990s, have organized all forms of struggle of a certain scale (coordinations of nurses, students, railway workers, the unemployed, teachers, etc). The refusa l, the no (were not playing any more) is what has pushed the intermittent workers from an ambiguous yet always individual relationship to the organization of the culture and communications industry into a new relationship to themselves and to the power that comes through the power of us. Instead of being subjected to appropriation and exploitation by industry, all the characteristics of the intermittent workers cooperation operate as drivers of the struggle. Coordination is what the event of the struggle has made possible. In this event, we see what is intolerabl e about an era and at the same time the new possibilities for living that it enfolds. The de-structuring of what is intolerable and the articulation of new possibilities for living have a very real existence, but they are first expressed as a
The Political Form of Coordination 163 transformation of subjectivity, as a mutation of the mode of sensibility, as a new distribution of desires in th e souls of the intermittent workers engaged in the struggle. This new di stribution of what is possible opens up to a process of experimentati on and creation: experimenting with what the transformation of subjectivity involves, and creating the devices, institutions and conditions capable of deploying these new possibilities for living. Speaking about 1968, Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari (1984) said: Society must be capable of formin g collective agencies of enunciation that match the new subjectivity, in such a way that it desires its own mutation When we consider political action in the light of the event, we are faced with a twofold creation, a twofold individu ation, a twofold becoming (creating a possibility and bringing it about) that is confronted with the dominant values. This is the point where the conflict with what exists manifests itself. These new possibilities for living come up against the organization of govern ments in power and the manner in which these actualize this same constituent opening. Coordination has developed the struggle on the two asymmetric levels in an exemplary fashion: refu sal and constitution, de-structuring what is intolerable and deploying new possibilities. De-structuring what is intolerable, by taking a step al ongside the codified and conventional forms of the unions struggle (the meet ing, the demonstration), will find expression in the invention of new forms of action, whose intensity and reach will increasingly open up towards harassing and unmasking the command networks of society-as-bu siness. Deregulation of the labor market and social rights is being countered by a deregulation of the conflict that is following the orga nization of power right into the communications networks, into the ex pression machines (interruptions in television programs, recovery of advertising spaces, interventions in press editorial offices, etc.), some thing which those involved in the conventional union struggles ought not to ignore. Coordination has coupled (not opposed) a diversifying of actions (by the number of participants, by th e variations in objectives), using the just-in-time method (by the freque ncy and speed of their planning and execution), to the unions monumental mobilization tactics (strikes), which are concentrated in time and sp ace. This gives some indication of what effective actions can be in an organization of mobile, flexible capitalist production, where the expression machines (television,
Maurizio Lazzarato 164 advertising, press, cinema, festivals) are constituent elements of production. If de-structuring what is intolerable has to invent its modes of action, the transformation of modes of sensibility implied by refusal is only the precondition for opening up to another process, a problematic one, of creation and actualization in relation to multiplicity. Problems are what characterize the life and the organization of coordination. The subjectivities engaged in the struggle are caught between the old distribution of the sensible, already defunct, and the new, which is not yet in existence other than as met hods for transforming sensibility and changing modes of perceiving th e world. Coordination is not a collective but a mapping of singularit ies, composed of a multiplicity of committees, initiatives, forums for di scussion and planning, political and union activists, a multiplicity of trades and professions, friendship networks, cultural and artistic affinities, which form and break up at different rates and with different aims. The process of constituting multiplicity that is initiated here is not organic; it is, rather, polemical and confrontational. There are, engage d in this process, individuals as well as groups clinging desperately to the identities, roles and functions modulated for them by the organization of industry, and also individuals and groups involved in a radical pro cess of de-subjectivation from these same modulations. There are conser vative forms of behavior and expression and other, innovative, forms distributed among various individuals and groups, or coming thro ugh a single individual or group. The word precarious, added to th e name intermittent workers of the coordination dIle de France, is the word that has caused passions to run highest and provoked the most vocal reactions. There are those for whom the term precarious denotes a fact, an assessment (there are as many non-indemnified intermittent workers as there are indemnified ones, if not more; at any rate, 35 percent of indemnified workers are transformed into precarious workers by the new draft agreement). Others happily embrace it, seeing it as a reversal of the terms under which power is assigned (like unemployed person, errmiste2, immigrant, etc.), and as a rejection of the categories into which they are forced. Still others, paralyzed by the vague, negative terms of this attribution, demand the reassuring identity of artist or liveperformance professional, which are also categories but, in their minds, positive ones. One can identify with the artist or the professional whereas precarious worker is a form of identification by default. There
The Political Form of Coordination 165 are those too for whom the word pr ecarious is sufficiently ambiguous and polysemous to open up to multiple situations that go beyond live performance and [for whom] it allows enough possibilities for becomings that elude the categories assigned by power. And there are yet others who demand existential precarity and denounce economic precarity. There are those for whom the term precarious denotes the point where categories, attributions an d identities become blurred (artist and at the same time precarious worker, professional and at the same time unemployed, alternatively within and outside, on the edges, at the limits): the point where relations, sin ce they are not sufficiently codified, are at the same time and in a contradictory manner sources of political subjection, of economic exploitation and of opportunities to be grasped. Precarious is the very model of problematic naming, which poses new questions and seeks new replies. Lacking the universal impact of names like worker or proletarian, it plays the role as these once did of that which defies, and it can only be named negatively by power as a result. All are in favor of neutralizing precarity as a weapon of political subjection and economic exploitation. Where division occurs is on the means by which to bring it about and on the significance of this achievement. Do we take the unknown aspects of problematic situations conjured up by precarity ba ck to what is known in established institutions and their forms of repres entation: wage earning, the right to work (employment), the right to stat e benefits indexed to employment, the joint democracy of employers an d trade union organizations? Or do we invent and impose new rights encouraging a new relationship to activity, time, wealth, democracy, which exist only virtually and often in a negative way, in conditions of precarity? We see that the economic questions, those affecting insurance and representation schemes, immediat ely pose problems of political categorization, which relate back to different processes of subjectivation. Fitting into the pre-fa bricated mould of the capital-labor relationship, by viewing art and cultur e as their exception, or analyzing the transformation of the concept of work and the concept of art, and opening up to the becomings these ve ry questions imply, by defining the artist and the professional in di fferent terms. Or else bringing the precarious, that which has not yet been codified, back into the institutionalized conflict, which has al ready been standardized (and also
Maurizio Lazzarato 166 includes the revolution of a great many revolutionaries!), or seizing the opportunity to develop struggles fo r identities still in the making. The post-feminist movements have al ready wrestled with the knotty issue of becoming, the problem of the relationship between difference and repetition, through the aporetic concept of post-identitarian identity: shifting identities, fractu red identities, eccentric identities, nomadic subjects, where identity is both asserted and stolen, where repetition (identity) is in favor of difference, where the assertion of rights is not an assignment or an integration but, rather, a precondition for becoming. Here this same question takes over the more traditional field of law and of the institutiona l forms regulating social issues. Different modes of behavior an d expression are represented in coordination, as they become widespread like skills or collective bodies of expertise (as the intermittent wo rkers put it when referring to their activities), each time revealing the po litical objects and subjects. These skills and expertise, as soon as they are in operation, trigger a proliferation of problems and responses. The production of an alternative model to the one proposed by the government is one of these skills that questions the organization of our societies generally, using the specific practices of live-performance professions as a basis. By analyz ing the legitimacy of the division between experts and non-experts, the modes whereby the new model is constructed also put the division between representatives and represented to the test. The action of coordination may be extended to experimentation with devices for be ing together and being against, which repeat codified political proced ures and, at the same time, invent new ones but which, all of them, also take great care to encourage the meeting of singularities, the arra ngement of different worlds and universes. The general form of the organization is not the vertical and hierarchical structure of political part ies or trade unions, but that of the network in which different organizat ional and decision-making methods operate, which co-exist and are coordinated more or less felicitously. The general assembly operates on the principle of the majority vote without, however, selecting elites an d vertical, directive or permanent structures. But the life of the coordination and the committees is based on the model of patchwork that allo ws an individual or a group to launch initiatives and new forms of action in a more flexible and
The Political Form of Coordination 167 responsible way. Organization in the form of networks is more open to learning and the appropriation of po litical action by all. The network favors the development of minorit y politics and decision-making. The coordination has adopted a strategy that operates transversally within the divisions instituted by politics and the majoritarian models (representatives/represented, privat e/public, individual/collective, expert/non-expert, social/political, audience/spectator, employee/ precarious worker, etc.). The opening of this instituting space fuels a tension between the assertion of equality proclaimed by politics (we all have equal rights), and the power relations between singularities which are always asymmetric: (in a meeting, a discussion, a decision-making process, the circulation of speech, of places and roles is never based on equality). Collective rights are what define the conditions for equality; rights are for everyone. But this equality is not for itself; it is not in itself a goal. It is for difference, for ever yones becoming; otherwise, it is nothing more than a leveling out of multiplicity, an averaging out of subjectivities and an average (major ity) subjectivity. The differences imposed by power are rejected, but the differences between singularities are arranged (on this second level, equality can only be the possibility for everyone not to be separated from what he/she is capable of, [for everyone] to be able to fully realize his/her potential). The hierarchy of the cultural industries is rejected and there is an arrangement of the asymmetric relationships between sing ularities that cannot be measured one against the other, as it is in th e worlds of artists, where there are no ranks but a variety of sites. Coordination makes it possible to cross borders, to blur the divisions, categories and assignments into which intermittent workers, all of us in fact, are forced. The space of coordination is located transversally vis--vis the logic of equality and that of difference (freedom) by constructing their rela tionship as a problem, by trying to analyze the limits within which soci alism and liberalism had separately considered and practiced them. Coordi nation is the contentious site for transforming multiplicity: from the subjected and enslaved multiplicity to a new multiplicity the outlines of which cannot be measured in advance. More generally, we can say this: the form of political organization of coordination relates back to invention, experimentation and to their
Maurizio Lazzarato 168 modes of action, not to a new form of warfare. We are currently living in conditions of planetary civil war and a permanent state of emergency, but I think that the res ponse to this organization of power is only possible if the logic of war is turned back (invaginated) into a logic of co-creation and co-implementat ion. The logic of war is the logic of conquest or of the distribution of one sole possible world. The logic of invention is one of creating and bringing different worlds into being in the same world; it hollows out power and at same time makes it possible for us to stop being obedient. This deployment and proliferation means extending singular ities within the vicinity of other singularities, drawing a line of fo rce between them, rendering them temporarily the same and making th em cooperate for a time towards a common goal, without necessarily denying their autonomy and independence, without reducing them in a process of totalization. And this action is, in turn, an in vention, a new individuation. Coordination is set up according to modes that relate back to the unpredictability of propagation and distribution of the invention (by reciprocal capture, based on trust an d affinity), rather than to the realization of an ideal plan or of a political line aimed at raising awareness. It succeeds only if it expr esses a power in which singularities exist one by one, each one for itself. It takes shape only if it expresses a sum that is not reduced to a total of its own elements. The transition from micro to macro levels, from the local to the global, must not take place in a process of abstracting, universalizing or totalizing, but through the ability to hold together, to coordinate networks and patchworks gradually. Compared to these dynamics of coordination, the instruments and forms of organization of the workers movement are largely inadequate since, on the one hand, they refer to the cooperation of the Karl Marx and Adam Smith factory and, on th e other, political action is not conceived of as an invention but merely as a revelation of something already there, the main operator of which is awareness and representation. Turning what is pot ential into something present, current, is an entirely different matter from representing a conflict. The political action of what remains of the workers movement (in its institutional or left-wing form) is dominated as ever by the logic of representation and reductive totaliz ation, which means exercising hegemony in one sole possible world (w hether it is a question of taking power or sharing it), whereas coordination is a politics of expression.
The Political Form of Coordination 169 The deployment of the political form of coordination calls first of all for the neutralization of these methods of operating and expressing politics. Where there is a hegemony of the or ganizational forms of the workers movement, there can be no coordinati on. Where there is coordination, these organizations can be a part of it, but only by abandoning their claims to hegemony and by adapting to the constitutive rules of multiplicity (we can also see this co -existence at work in the forms of organization mobilizing against neo-liberal globalization! ). Coordination alone represents a public space that includes differences. The activist in a coordination is someone who is committed and at the same time elusive. Contempor ary political movements do not develop according to the mystical modes of the transition from the individual to the collective. All crea tive activity stems originally, from singular initiatives (by a group or indi viduals) that are more or less small in scale, more or less anonymous. These initiatives cause an interruption, introducing a discontinuity not only in the exercise of power on subjectivity, but also and es pecially in the reproduction of the mental habits and the corporeal habits of multiplicity. The act of resistance introduces discontinuities that represent new beginnings, and these beginnings are multiple, disparate, heterogeneous (there are always multiple foci of resistance). Rather than relating back to the position of warrior or to religious commitment, the activist in contemporary movements takes on the attributes of the inventor, the experimenter. The activist is committed and elusive as these are, since he/she too must escape for his/her action to be effective in the chain of pre vailing habits and imitations codifying the space of political action. The fascination that the figure of Subcomandante Marcos exercises is the result of all the elements present in his way of conducting and expressing himself. In a situation that is restrictive in a different way from our own, he asserts himself as a warrior, as a political and military commander; at the same time, using the same gestures and the same wo rds, he immediately eludes the warrior identity, rids himself of the assigned role of commander, of military and political leadership. The si tuation that is appropriate for the action of beginning something new is expressed in the aporetic definition of subcommandante: subject ivation and at the same time desubjectivation, each presupposin g and re-launching the other reciprocally.
Maurizio Lazzarato 170 In contemporary militancy, the warri or dimension must be turned into an inventive force, into the power to create and realize arrangements and ways of living. The activist is not the one in possession of the movements intelligence, who sums up its strength, who anticipates its choices, who de rives his/her legitimacy from an ability to read and interpret the movements of power; rather, he/she is the one who, by introducing a discontinuity into what exists, facilitates an increase in the power of arrang ement and connection of cooperation, the flows, the networks and the singul arities that comprise it, according to modes of disjunction and coordi nation that are non-totalizing, nonhomogenizing, non-hierarchical. The intermittent workers say: we do not know what it is to be together and to be against in conditions where different worlds proliferate within a single world; we do not know what the institutions of becoming are, but we raise th ese questions by means of devices, techniques, arrangements, statements, and in this way we analyze them and we experiment. The traditional modes of political action are not on the way out, but are dependent on the deployment of this power of coordination. The constitution of the se lf as multiplicity is not sacrificed to the struggle against the imperative s of power. The activist continues to put forward initiatives, to be the originator of new beginnings, but not according to the logic of realizin g an ideal plan, of a political line that sees what is possible as a readily available image of the real. [He/she does so] according to an actual understanding of the situation, which obliges him/her to put his/her very identity, his/her worldview and methods of action at stake. In fact, he/she has no other option since all attempts at totalization, at homogenizing generalization, at creating a relationship of force exclusively oriented towards representation, at instituting modes of hierarchical organization, lead to flight and the breakdown of coordination (of multiplicity). Notes 1. Translators Note: intermittent and precarious workers of the Ile de France. 2. Translators Note: people living on RMI = Revenu minimum dinsertion, a form of income support.
III INSTITUENT PRACTICES AND MONSTER INSTITUTIONS
17316 Instituent Practices, No. 2: Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting* Gerald Raunig (Translated by Aileen Derieg) Insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glitteri ng hopes on institutions. It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay. (Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own) Institution and Critique An attempt to deconstruct, problematize and reformulate institutional critique, such as the one undertaken from several different perspectives in the transversal issue Do you remember institutional critique?1, published in early 2006, cannot avoid questioning the understanding of both institution and critique in the first two phases of artistic institutional critique, as well as the analogous figures in the history of leftist movements. Here one problem atic pole of the critique of the institution could be regarded as the fundamentally critical approach of constructing an absolute outside of the institution, whether as a distorted image of the pathos of the artistic avant-garde (still evident in the 1970s) or as a phantasm of radica l anarchisms: this approach ignores the techniques of self-government an d the modes of subjectivation and contributes, beyond pure forms of rigid institutional subjection, to producing forms of machinic enslavement (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987: 456-7; Lazzarato, 2006) and with them the imagination of spaces free of power and institution.
Gerald Raunig 174 The other pole frequently found in institutional critique art practices since the 1990s would be th e self-obsessed self-critique that substantializes ones own involvement in the institution and crowds out the horizon of change from percep tion. This also includes the misconstrual of theoretical approaches from Foucault (the interpretation of his theory of power as a dead-end of a comprehensive dispositif of power allowing neither escape nor resistance) and Bourdieu (the hermetic interpretation of his fiel d theory), in ways that reinforce what exists what is established, a rranged, striated and gridded as the seemingly sole and immutable possible. Avoiding both polarizat ions suggests a movement of exodus, of defection, of flight, but looking fo r a weapon while fleeing. There is a consistent thread running from Max Stirners remark about leaving what is established, to Gilles Deleuz es concept of lines of flight, to Paolo Virno and Antonio Negris mo re recent conceptualization of exodus: the differentiated constructi on of a non-dialectical way out of purely negating and affirming the institution. Seeking out these kinds of exits from the dead-ends of the criti que of the institution also means, not least of all and this is the basis of this essay a conceptual movement of flight, a defection from the treacherous concept of institutional critique, a dissolving of its conceptual components and their re-composition in a different conceptual genealogy. Against Closure of/in the Institution Against the background of a renewed c oncept of critique, as that begins to emerge from the essays collected here, it is possible to take a closer look at the question of the institution. What is at stake is specifically not the institution as an unchanging stru cture and state apparatus, as a mere element of a dominant repressive system. If, instead, institutions are grasped as processes, then the probl em goes beyond the terrain of the critique of the state and capitalism, for social movements and revolutionary machines cannot dispen se with institutions, nor are they immune to the occurrence of stru cturalization, ri gidification and institutionalization. In 1844, Max Stirner, individualist anarchist opponent of the young Karl Marx,2 wrote the remarkably post-Hegelian and proto-structuralist Der Einzige und sein Eigentum [ The Ego and Its Own ]. In it, we encounter a molar concept of revolution that sp ecifically takes into account the structuralization and terror of the French Revolution. Against these,
Instituent Practices, No. 2 175 Stirner poses the concept of insurrection: The revolution commands one to make arrangements, the insurrection [ Emprung ] demands that he rise or exalt himself [ empor-, aufrichten ] (Stirner, 1927: 287; 2001). This kind of rising up, this insurrect ion, which Stirner had to argue linguistically in this manner in or der to avoid criminal prosecution,3 does not want to arrange itself, does not want to accept the institutions, even those of the revolution as such, if they close themselves off again. Insurrection sets no glittering hopes on institutions; a new state, a new people, a new party, a new society ar e not options for Stirner. The mode of subjectivation of the closure of /in the institution simultaneously means arranging oneself in the institution and adapting the self like all those arranged. In his works on institutional analysis Flix Guattari demonstrated the tendency to structuralization, as he called the process of the closure of/in the institution. He developed his specific approach from what he experienced in diverse contexts: from the experience of the fight against the Stalinist and Euro-Communist variants of the state left and against the phenomena of the rigidifying of the New Social Movements after 1968, but also and especially from his experience in the micro-political field of the (psychiatric) clinic. In all of these contexts, Guattari was interested in institutional translations of revolution in its non-molar form: The revolutionary project as a machine activity of an institutional subversion would have to uncover these kinds of possibilities and ensure them in every phase of the struggle against structuralization ahead of time. (Guattari, 2003: 247) As Guattari stresses, it is not enough to think of theoretical models of this institutional subversion, but rath er it is specifically a matter of the practical testing and stuttering invent ion of machines that tend to elude structuralization: The problem of the revolutionary organization is basically that of setting up an institutional machine that is distinguished by a special axiomatic and a special praxis; what this means is the guarantee that it does not close itself off in various social structures, especially not in the state structure. (Guattari, 2003: 137)
Gerald Raunig 176 Precisely this kind of elementary tr eatment of forms of organization, the permanent opening of social struct ures and assurance against their closure were and are the aim of offe nsive practices of insurrection and molecular revolution that generate something other than copies and variations of what already exists. Wherever state apparatuses tend towards the orgic and revolutionary machines simultaneously test new forms of organizing (Raunig, 2007), insurrection takes place as a fight against structuralization: in the Paris Commune, with the soviets and all the subsequent soviet-like modes of organization, in the Spanish Revolution and in May 1968, in the Zapatist revolts and the antiglobalization movement. Fleeing from what exists, however, by no means dispenses with the question of the institution. Focusing on institutions tendencies to closure and structuralization is one side; fleeing from structuralization, on the other hand, corresponds to the complementary aspect of inventin g other forms of institution and instituting. Constituent Power and Instituting Even without a prefix, the Latin verb statuo means roughly to establish, set (up), decide. On the one hand this means a process of setting up objects, the erection of buildings and the placing of objects or people in a certain arrangement, but on the other also such performative speech and positioning acts to establish an arrangement of rule or even to found empires. As static as the noun status is literally as standing, position, state, the concomitant verb statuo is just as dynamic. The prefix con changes primarily the relationship between the subject and object of the im-position/in-stitution, now the composition/con-stitution: an aspect of the collective, the common is added. In setting up bodies of troops, this may mean simply a multiplication of the placed object s, a co-location of multiple components. With the performative aspect of deciding, determining, founding, the compositum constituo takes on the meaning of collective subjectivation and common posit ioning. Common agreement and decision-making, con-stituting in other words, found a common constitution. As with especially the word constituo it seems that a dynamic aspect of establishing, setting up, founding correlates with a closing aspect of defining, determining, deciding. These two strands of constitution are differentiated in the concepts of constituent and constituted power. The pair of concepts emerges in
Instituent Practices, No. 2 177 the history of the constitutional pro cess in the French Revolution. In his text What is the Third Estate, Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, protagonist of the constitution of 1791, already distinguishes in 1789 between the pouvoir constitu and the pouvoir constituant For Sieyes, constituted power corresponds to the written constitution as fundamental law, constituent power corresponds to the constitutional assembly, the Constituante The generally problematic aspect of constituent power as constituting assembly lies in the crucial question of how this assembly comes together, in the circumstances of legitimizing this assembly. In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt stresses this problem of the legitimacy of the new power, the pouvoir constitu, whose authority could not be guaranteed by the Constitutional Assembly, the pouvoir constituant because the power of the Assembly itself was not constitutional and could never be constitutional since it was prior to the constitution itself (Arendt, 1990: 163). In other words, this was a constitution before the constitution, which it might be bette r to call an institution, and which implies in different contexts differe nt ways of in-stituting, but also different formats of participation. In this context Arendt particularly stresses the difference between the French and the (US) American Revolution. In France it was the National Assembly that developed the first constitution for the nation through its self-given pouvoir constituant according to a certain principle of representation in a division of labor . Unlike in France, in the USA the constitution was thoroughly discusse d in 1787, paragraph for paragraph down to the last detail, in town hall meetings and state parliaments and supplemented with amendments. In other words, it emerged from countless constituted bodies in a multi-stage process. What is especially important to Arendt is the aspect of participation in the federative system of the USA, which she sees as leading to completely different relationships between the Constitution and the people in the USA and in Europe. At a closer look, however, the difference between the constitutional processes in France and in the US is not so fundamental as to expl ain Arendts strong emphasis on the legalistic procedure of the (US) American Revolution. Aside from the multiple exclusions of all women, indigenous people and slaves, the constitutional process in the USA was one that was borne by
Gerald Raunig 178 constituted assemblies and dominated by the principle of representation. Naturally, similar problems are also involved in contemporary examples of the relationship be tween constituent assemblies and constitution. Even in the case of the Bolivarian Constitution, it was President Chavez who invoked the c onstituent assembly following his election in 1999, and due to the relatively brief period of time between the election of the assembly (June 2000) and the referendum (December 2000), the issue of participation still re mained limited despite all efforts to increase it. The top-down proced ure of the European Constitution, in which self-organized debates did not spread throughout Europe at all, proved to be even less participative; and regardless of one's position on the issue of the rejection of the European Constitution in the referenda in France and the Netherla nds in 2005, the hollow form of direct democracy does not even begin to substitute for a deliberative process involving the whole populati on (Raunig, 2005). Thus the no should be interpreted as a break turning against the form of the referendum in the question of the European Constitution, or more generally against the caricaturing lim itation of constituent power to a dualistic yes/no mechanism of installing or not installing a new constituted power. Here is Stirner again: What constitution was to be chosen, this question busied the revolutionary heads, and the whole political period foams with constitutional fights and constitutional questions, as the social talents too were uncommonly inventive in societary arrangements (phalansteries and the like). The insurgent strives to become constitutionless. (Stirner, 1927: 287; 2001) Stirners anarchistic point goes far beyond the remainders of constituent power in liberal representative democracy, yet it does not assert the possibility of a state without any fo rm of constitution. It rather describes the desire of the insurrectionist to resist the endless striation of desire production through imposin g constitutions. In a similar way, in Insurgencies his book about constituent power,4 Antonio Negri (1999) attempts to shift the discourse from the abstract general of the constitution and the concomitant constitutional processes, to the concrete general of an absolute process. For once the constituent moment is passed, constitutional fixi ty becomes a reactionary fact in a society that is founded on the development of freedoms and the
Instituent Practices, No. 2 179 development of the economy (Negri, 2003: 245). Negri thus no longer explains the differentiation of consti tuting into constituent power and constituted power in relation to the constitutional process, but rather on the distinction, which goes back to Spinoza, between potentia and potestas When Negri further develops the concept of constituent power as an absolute process of social orga nization, he also starts from the discourse on constitution, specifically from Jean Antoine Condorcets statement, to each generation its constitution. Even before the relevant principle was specified in the revolutionary French Constitution of 1793, Condorcet asserted that one generation may not subject future generations to its laws. Negri takes this demand literally and thus goes far beyond the former meaning of the pouvoir constituant He presupposes that constituent power can not only not arise from constituted power, but that constituent power does not even institute constituted power (Negri, 1999: 20). Initially this me ans that even if there were a permanent process of constituting the constitution in Condorcets sense, in other words a continuous adaptation of the constitution as abstract general to the concrete general, there would still be the fundamental problem of representa tion, of the division of labor between those representing and those represented, the separation between constituted and constituent power. Negri logically pursues the question of how a constituent power is to be imagined, which does not enge nder constitutions separated from itself, but rather constitutes itself: con-stituent power as a com-position, which constitutes itself in a collect ive process. Stirners individual anarchism summarizes the concatenati on of singularities on a few pages with the peculiar terms of the union [ Verein ] and (social) intercourse [ Verkehr ] (Stirner, 1927: 192, 197; 2001). Negri seeks to place the common, the collectivity, finally a new concept of communism at the center of his immanent-transgressi ve ideas of constitution with a collectively envisioned self-consti tution. Here constituent power constitutes itself, yet no longer as a unity in diversity like the French constituante as a unity that represents diversity. Instead of the selfconstitution of a nation as one body that drafts its constitution itself, it is the constituent power of a di versity without unity, without uniformization. This brings both Stirner and Negri to a way of thinking that consistently goes beyond the cons titution: just as Stirners insurgent strives for constitutionlessness, Negris repubblica costituente is a republic that originates before the state that emerges outside the state. It is the
Gerald Raunig 180 paradox of the constituent republic th at the process of constitution is never closed and that the revolution never ends (Negri, 2003: 80). Stirners statement about becoming constitutionless is to be understood in exactly this sense: as an unfinished process and nonmolar revolution/insurrection.5 It indicates the possibility of an arrangement of singularities wit hout constitution, yet not without constituent power and the institutin g event. This instituting event should not establish a constituted pow er, but rather aims at instituting oneself, arranging oneself: Stirner says insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves (Stirner, 1927: 287; 2001). If constituent power is investigated in its relationship to the event and the process of instituting, then it is primarily the mode of instituting that comes into focus, in other words the question of how exactly the instituting event relates to the process of constituent power, which relationship of composition, which form the common, the conof constituent power assumes in the pr ocess of instituting. The mode of instituting is not only symbolically e ffective, its tendency either toward authoritarian positioning or toward a com-position of the singular is decisive. The Persistence of Instituent Practice Particularly the genealogy of consti tuent power shows that the question of instituting is resolved in very di fferent ways: the modes of instituting the constitutional process in France and the USA at the end of the eighteenth century were just as differe nt as those of the present day, and the instituting event often decides th e future of models of political organizing. I would like to discuss this question in more detail on the basis of artistic political practices of the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1990s, which developed various forms of in stituting and thus also various qualities of participation. This leap from constitutional theory to specific micro-politics seems suitable to me for tracing the unfolding of both constituent power and instituent pr actice not at all as a counterimage to the macro level of major transformations, but rather as transversal processes thwarting the dualism of macro/micro in their concatenations. A decade after the Soviet Proletkult had begun to open the theater to everyone, Bertolt Brecht responded to the question of participation and activation with a gesture of radical closure by developing the strict form of the Lehrstck (learning play) from the various experiments with
Instituent Practices, No. 2 181 epic theater in the 1920s. Here the pr ecisely specified audiences become active participants: The learning play teaches by being played, not by being seen (Brecht, 2001). By giving up the theater as a site of presentation, the audience as a recepti ve figure, the text as a finished form, Brecht conceived of a theater that is intended only for those conducting it, as communication exclusively among the active participants. The Lehrstck consists of playing (out) all the possible positions and roles in a constant change of perspective. For this reason Brecht repeatedly refused performances of The Measures Taken before an audience, calling it a means of pedagogical work with students of Marxist schools and proletarian collectives, with workers choirs, amateur theater groups, school choirs and orchestras. There is no question, however, that the Brechtian act of establishing this activated public only lasted a brief period of time, and its preconditions were still found in solitary text production. The Situationist International (S I), on the other hand, began as a collective that deployed the text more as a discursive and politicizing medium in manifestos and magazines, but not as a precondition for the practice of creating situations. Fr om the beginnings in the 1950s, the point was neither an authoritarian an d solitary act of instituting nor a passive drifting in quasi-natural si tuations. The question that arose for the SI was: What admixture, what in teractions ought to occur between the flux (and resurgence) of the natural moment, in Henri Lefebvre's sense, and certain artificially constructed elements, introduced into this flux, perturbing it, quantitatively and, a bove all, qualitatively? (Situationist International, 1960) That a conscious and direct intervention is required beyond natural moments to construct a situation is already evident in the terms crer and construire, which are used in conjunction with the Situationist situation. The Situationist de finition accordingly conveys the constructed situation as a moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organi zation of a unitary ambiance and a game of events (Situationist International, 1958). Entirely in keeping with the Brechtian tradition, an impor tant aspect of creating situations consisted, not least of all, in thwarting the fixation of the relationships between stage and audience space, between actors and observers. The role of the audience was to constantly decrease, whereas the proportion
Gerald Raunig 182 of those, who were now no longer acteurs but rather viveurs was to increase, at least ideally. In terms of the concrete Situationist practice, however, the SI already limited the collectivity of the viveurs to a three-phase hierarchy in 1958. In this hierarchy a certain pr edominance is attributed to the director as leading coordinator, who is also permitted to intervene in events, whereas at the second level those consciously experiencing the situation directly participate, and finally at the third level a passive audience drawn into the situation by chance should be forced into action. Despite the collective form of instituting, the problem of participation was obviously not resolved at all, especially at the third level of the passive audience. It was not until just before and around May 1968 in Paris that the SI achieved an opening into the complex and unpredictable space of the revolutionary machine as a discursive arrangement, only to disband shortly thereafter.6 Numerous artistic-political practices arose in the 1990s, which developed in transversal concatenat ion with local and global social movements. In this way, the some what rigidified and hierarchized relationship between art and politics wa s loosened at certain hot spots. In the early 1990s in Hamburg an initiative of urban planning from below arose from the social cont exts of the autonomous squatter movement in the Hafenstrasse, the alternative population of the red light district of St. Pauli and its social initiatives, and the collective art practices of the politicized visual art and the leftist pop scene affiliated with the Golden Poodle Club. In the beginning (around 1994), it was simply a matter of preventing the planned development/blocking of the banks of the Elbe with the fake idea of a park. However, this soon turned into the fiction of a park of a different kind: Park Fiction. The self-organized arrangement of a hot spot of gentrification was not only intended to attack the state apparatus of traditional urban planning policies, but also the limited citi zens involvement that operates as controlled forms of activation in between participation and mediation as governmental pacification. The aim of Park Fiction was not so much an orderly process of alternative urban planning, but rather the opening of a wild process of desire production. This idea of a proliferation of collective desire production was the foundation for a series of various events (Park Fiction 0-5) in 1995 and 1996. Initially, we were less interested in analyzing desires. Or in other
Instituent Practices, No. 2 183 words, we saw it as part of our work to convey how to start desiring (Dany, 1996: 56). Lectures on the theme of park and politics, exhibitions, raves, video evenings on unusual forms of parks impelled desire and knowledge production on the question of all that a park could be. These manifold impulses for desiring were intended to make the desires start to become grander. In October 1997 the planning container was realized as a central element: for six months the planning office in a container installed on site was open at least two days a week. The strange tools for instituting desires included a kneading office, a desire archive, a garden library, utensils for crafts, painting and drawing, information material and conventional planning material. With over 200 visits to households and businesses, people who did not yet have access to the project were offered possibilities for involvement with a portable action kit (a miniature version of the planning container). An extensive presentation and discussion of the results took pla ce at a city district conference in April 1998 (Schfer, 2001). The Park Fiction Film by Margit Czenki, which was completed in 1999, went far beyond classical documentary aspects as a constitutive part of the collective desire producti on for a park that still did not exist: Desires will leave the house and take to the streets was the suggestive subtitle that conjoined the consti tuent power of desires with the promise of becoming public. And gradually the desires did actually escape the striated space that sepa rates the private from the political. They ranged from bird voices on ta pe and a boxwood hedge trimmed in the shape of a poodle, a tree house in the shape of a ripe strawberry, mailboxes for young people whose mail is monitored by their parents at home, an open air cinema, an exer cise hall with a green roof and wooden palms on rails, a women pirate s fountain, platforms on rails for sunbathing and barbecuing, rolling sections of lawn, a boulevard of possibilities for which there is no room in the street, tea garden and fruit tree meadow, benches, flowers and a fire-breathing Inca goddess as a cooking sculpture, a dog racing track, a water slide into the (then clean) Elbe, all the way to a trash park made of the garbage of prosperity that is not further destructible, which would mirror the conditions in this part of the city. As art in public space, not only this desire phase should be made possible through support from the city, but also the process of realizing
Gerald Raunig 184 the park. In the midst of this phase of the realization of construction, during which there were increasing conflicts with bureaucratic obstruction, Park Fiction was invited to take part in documenta 11. Instead of a spectacular, Thomas Hirschhorn-style site-specific intervention in Kassel, Park Fict ion focused on documentation and archiving, once again with highly unconventional means. Finally in 2003, just in time for the congress Unlikely Encounters in Urban Space organized by Park Fiction, in which activists from different corners of the world took part, the park of many islands was partially opened: the Flying Carpet and the Palm Island, a small amphitheater behind the Golden Poodle Club, the neighborhood gardens around the St. Pauli church and the boule grounds breakfast outdoors. Three open air solariums were added in 2005, the tulip-patterned Tartan Field, the dog garden with poodle gates and a boxwood hedge in the shape of a poodle, the footbridge system Schaue rmanns Park, two herb gardens in front of the parish, and the bamboo garden of the modest politician. The women pirates fountain and the strawberry-shaped tree house are still waiting to be realized. Most of all, however, the untamed instituent practice of Park Fiction is still waiting for an appropriate contextualization of its fixed object s: the process, through which the park emerged and this is a more general problem of art in public space, which is otherwise hardly taken into consideration is not recognizable in the objects; the explosiveness of their creation, the linking of the singular and the coll ective in desire production remains hidden. Since more complex models of a walk-in archive have been made impossible by the authorities, Park Fiction finally developed plans for an exploding archive with a sc ulpture boulevard of the non-realized desires and electronic access to the archive. In a further development of Negri s conceptualization of constituent power, Park Fiction uses the term constituent practice as a selfdesignation. From the de scription of the ongoing impulses for collective desire production, however, it is particularly the quality as an instituent practice that should be clear here. In terms of the two interlinking main components of instituent practice , a stronger participation in instituting can be recognized in the pl uralization of the instituting event: especially the concatenation of so many ongoing and diversely composed instituting events hinders an authoritarian mode of instituting and simultaneously counters the closure of/in the institution Park Fiction. The various arrangements of self-organization promote broad
Instituent Practices, No. 2 185 participation in instituting, becaus e they newly compose themselves as a constituent power again and again, always tying into new local and global struggles. In the autonomous genealogy and presence of the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg, in the mixed context of the Golden Poodle Club and its small debate counterp art, the Butt Club, and the fraying social fabric of the neighborhood, Park Fiction is most of all a continuously insistent practice of instituting: countless smaller and larger impulses for collective insu rrection and for the emergence of constituent power, a series of events, in which desiring is learned, a permanent new beginning, an institu ent practice that animates an astonishing amount and is incredib ly persistent at the same time. Notes Thanks to Isabell Lorey, Stefan Nowotny and Alice Pechriggl for advice and critique. 1. Online at http://eipcp.net/transversal/0106. The essays in the first section of the present volume, above, are drawn from this issue of transversal. 2. There are intersections between Stirners main work The Ego and Its Own (1845) and Marx and Engelss The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism (1845), and Stirner is directly criticized as St. Max in Marx and Engelss The German Ideology (written 1845-6). 3. To ensure myself against a criminal charge, I superfluously remark explicitly that I choose the word insu rrection because of its etymological sense, not in the limited sense proscribed by the penal code (Stirner, 1927: 288; 2001). 4. In the original Italian version of 1992, the book is entitled Il potere costituente: saggio sulle alternative del moderno ; it deals with the concept of constituent power based on analyses of Niccol Macchiavelli, James Harrington, the (US) American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. 5. With the Deleuzian turn of becoming constitutionless, I would like to propose an interpretation of Stirners insurrection that emphasizes the molecularity and the aspect of process, thus also drawing a precarious boundary that separates this interpretation of Stirner from those of his right-wing readers. 6. See my discussion in Raunig (2007) and Gene Rays essay in this volume.
18717 Governmentality and Self-Precarization: On the Normalization of Cultural Producers* Isabell Lorey (Translated by Lisa Rosenblatt and Dagmar Fink) For some of us, as cultural producers,1 the idea of a permanent job in an institution is something that we do not even consider, or is in any case something we decide to do at most for a few years. Afterward, we want something different. Hasnt the idea always been about not being forced to commit oneself to one thing, one classical job definition, which ignores so many aspects; about not selling out and consequently being compelled to give up the many activities that one feels strongly about? Wasnt it important to not adapt to th e constraints of an institution, to save the time and energy to be able to do the creative and perhaps political projects that one really has an interest in? Wasnt a more or less well-paid job gladly taken for a certain period of time, when the opportunity arose, to then be able to leave again when it no longer fit? Then there would at least be a bit of money there to carry out the next meaningful project, which woul d probably be poorly paid, but supposedly more satisfying. Crucial for the attitude suggested here is the belief that one has chosen his or her own living and working situations and that these can be arranged relatively freely and autonomously. Actually, also consciously chosen to a great extent are the uncertainties, the lack of continuities under the given social conditions. Yet in the following my concern is not with the question of w hen did I really decide freely?, or when do I act autonomously?, but instead, with the ways in which ideas of autonomy and freedom are constitutively connected with hegemonic modes of subjectivation in Western, capitalist societies. The focus of this text is accordingly on the extent to which self-chosen
Isabell Lorey 188 precarization contributes to producing the conditions for being able to become an active part of neo-liber al political and economic relations. No general statements about cultural producers or all of those currently in a situation that has b een made precarious can be derived from this perspective. However, what becomes apparent when problematizing this self-chosen precari zation, are the historical lines of force (Foucault 1980; Deleuze, 1988) of modern bourgeois subjectivation, which are impercep tibly hegemonic, normalizing, and possibly block counter-behav ior (Foucault, 2004a: 292). To demonstrate the genealogy of these lines of force, I will first turn to Michel Foucaults concepts of g overnmentality and biopolitics. We will not focus on the breaks and rifts in the lines of bourgeois subjectivation, but instead, on thei r structural and transformative continuities including the entangleme nt in governmental techniques of modern Western societies until today. What ideas of sovereignty arise in these modern, governmental dispositifs ? What lines of force i.e., what continuities, self-evidences, and nor malizations can be drawn to what and how we think and feel as self-chosen cultural producers that have been made precarious in neo-liberal conditions, how we are in the world, and specifically also in so-called dissident practices? Do cultural producers who are in a precariou s state possibly embody a new governmental normality through certa in self-relations and ideas of sovereignty? With the genealogy of the force lines of bourgeois subjectivation, in the course of the text I will differentiate between precarization as deviance, and therefore as a contradi ction of liberal governmentality, on the one hand, and as a hegemonic function of neo-liberal governmentality on the other, to then finally clarify the relationship between the two based on the example of the free decision for precarious living and working. Biopolitical Governmentality With the term governmentality, Michel Foucault defined the structural entanglement of the govern ment of a State and the techniques of self-government in Western societies. This involvement between State and population as subjects is not a timeless constant. Only in the course of the eighteenth century co uld that which had been developing since the sixteenth century take root: a new government technique,
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 189 more precisely, the force lines of modern government techniques until today. The traditional sovereign, for whom Foucault introduces the character from Niccol Machiavellis The Prince from the sixteenth century as a prototype, and Thomas Hobbess contract-based voluntary community of subordinates from the seventeenth century, were not yet concerned with ruling the people for the sake of their welfare, but instead, they were primarily intere sted in dominating them for the welfare of the sovereign. It was firs t in the course of the eighteenth century, when liberalism and the bourg eoisie became hegemonic, that the population entered the focus of power and along with it, a governing that was oriented on the life of the people and making that life better. The power of the State no longer depended solely on the size of a territory or the mercantile, authoritative regulation of subordinates,2 but instead, on the happiness of the population, on their life and a steady improvement of that life. In the course of the eighteen th century, governing methods continued to transform toward a political economy of liberalism: selfimposed limitations on government for the benefit of a free market on the one hand, and on the other, a population of subjects that were bound to economic paradigms in th eir thought and behavior. These subjects were not subjugated simply by means of obedience, but became governable in that, on the whole, the ir life expectancy, their health, and their courses of behavior were involved in complex and entangled relationships with these economic pr ocesses (Foucault, 2004b: 42). Liberal modes of government presented the basic structure for modern governmentality, which has always been biopolitical.3 Or, in other words: liberalism was the economic and political framework of biopolitics and, equally, an indispen sable element in the development of capitalism (Foucault, 1980: 141-142). The strength and wealth of a stat e at the end of the eighteenth century depended ever more greatly on the health of its population. In a bourgeois liberal context, a government policy oriented on this means, until today, establishing and producing normality and then securing it. For that, a great deal of data is necessary; statistics are produced, probabilities of birth rates and death rates are calculated, frequencies of diseases, living conditions, means of nutrition, etc. Yet that does not suffice. In order to manufacture a populations health standard, and to maximize it, these bio-producti ve, life-supporting biopolitical government methods also require the ac tive participation of every single
Isabell Lorey 190 individual, which means their self-g overning. Foucault writes in The History of Sexuality: Western man was gradually learning what it meant to be a living species in a living world, to have a body, conditions of existence, probabilities of life, an individual and collectiv e welfare, forces that could be modified, and a space in which they co uld be distributed in an optimal manner. (Foucault, 1980: 142, my emphasis) Here, Foucault describes two things that I consider essential: the modern individual must learn how to have a body that is dependent on certain existential conditions, and, second, he or she must learn to develop a relationship with his or her self that is creative and productive, a relationship in which it is possible to fashion his or her own body, own life, own self. Philipp Sarasin shows the emergence in the context of the Western hygiene discourse of the waning eighteenth century and early nineteen th century, of the belief that the individual was largely capable of dete rmining its health, illness, or even the time of death (Sarasin, 2001: 19). This idea of the ability to shape and fashion ones self never arose independent of governmental dispositifs In the context of liberal governme ntal technologies of the self, the attribute own always signifies possessive individualism (Macpherson, 1962). However, initially, self-relations oriented on the imagination of ones own, were only applicable to the bourgeois, then gradually towards the end of the nineteenth century, the entire population. At issue here is not the legal status of a subject, but structural conditions of normalizing societies: one must be capable of managing oneself, recognizing oneself as subject to a sexuality, and learn to have a body that remains healthy through attentiv eness (nutrition, hygiene, living) and can become sick through inattentiv eness. In this sense, the entire population must become biopolitical subjects (Lorey, 2006a). With reference to wage workers, such imaginary self-relations4 mean that ones own body, constituted as the property of the self, becomes an own body that one must sell as labor power. Also, in this respect, the modern, free individual is comp elled to co-produce him or herself through such powerful self-relations, that the individual can sell his or her labor power well, in order to live a life that improves steadily.
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 191 Therefore, in modern societies, th e art of governing which was another name given by Foucault ( 1991) to governmentality does not primarily consist of being repressive, but instead, inwardly held selfdiscipline and self-control.5 It is the analysis of an order that is not only forced upon people, bodies, and things, but in which they are simultaneously an active part. At the center of the problem of government ruling techniques is not the question of regulating autonomous, free subjects, but instead, regulating the relations through which so-called autonomous and free subjects are first constituted as such. Already in the second half of the seventeenth century, John Locke, who according to Karl Marx, demonstrated ... that the bourgeois way of thinking is the normal human way of thinking (Marx, 1999), wrote in The Two Treatises of Government, that man is master of himself, and proprietor of his own person, and th e actions or labour of it (Locke, 1823). At the beginning of the modern era, property acquired a supposed anthropological meaning (Castel, 2005: 24) for both the bourgeois man as a prerequisite for hi s formal freedom as a citizen, as well as for the worker, who owns hi s own labor power and must sell it, freely, as wage labor. It seemed to be the prerequisite with which the individual could become independ ent and free from the traditional system of subordination and security. With a biopolitical governmentality perspective, the meaning of property, however, surpasses the limited levels of citizenship, capital, and wage labor and is, in fact, to be understood as some thing entirely general. For in a biopolitical dispositif relations of bodily ownership apply to the entire population as governmental self-gov erning, not only to citizens or workers.6 The modern person is, accordingly, constituted through possessive individualistic self-rel ations, which are fundamental for historically specific ideas of au tonomy and freedom. Structurally, modern self-relations are base d also beyond an economic interpellation on a relation to ones own body as a means of production. In this broad sense of economy and biopolitics, the lines of the labor entrepreneur, the entrepreneur of ones self (Phl, 2003) as a mode of subjectivation, reach back to the beginnings of modern liberal societies and are not an entirely neo-liberal phenomena.7 This type of genealogy of course skips over the era of the social, the welfare state since the end of the nineteenth centu ry, and ties together, the for the
Isabell Lorey 192 most part compulsively constituting self-entrepreneurs in the current reconstruction and deconstruction of the social/welfare state with fundamental liberal governmental me thods of subjectivation since the end of the eighteenth century. With the interpellation to be responsible for ones self, something that had already failed in the nineteenth century seems to be repeating it self now, namely, the primacy of property and the construction of secu rity associated with it. Property was introduced in the early stages of bourgeois rule as protection against the incalculability of social existence, as security against vulnerability in a secularized society and the domination of the princes and kings. Ultimately this applied to only a limited few, and at the end of the nineteenth century the nation state ha d to guarantee social security for many. However, it does not automa tically follow that today the State must once again take on a more co mprehensive social function of protection and security (Castel, 2005). For this would quickly reproduce the utterly flexible, Western nation state nexus of freedom and security with similar structural inclusions and exclusions, rather than break through it. Normalized Free Subjects In biopolitical governmental societies, the constitution of the normal is always also woven in with the hegemonic.8 With the demand to orient on the normal which could be bourg eois, heterosexual, Christian, white male, white female, national in the course of the modern era, it was necessary to develop the perspective of controlling ones own body, ones own life, by regulating and thus managing the self. The normal is not identical with the norm, but it ca n take on its function. Normality is, however, never anything external, for we are the ones who guarantee it, and reproduce it through alterations. Accordingly, we govern ourselves in the dispositif of governmentality, biopolitics, and capitalism in that we normalize ourselves. If this is successful and it usually is power and certain domination relations are barely perceptible, and extremely difficult to reflect on, because we act in their production, as it were, in the ways we relate to ourselves, and own our bodies. The normalizing society and the subjectivation taking pla ce within it are a historical effect of a power technology directed at life. The normalized subject itself is, once again, a historical construct in an ensemble of knowledge forms, technologies, and institutions. This ensemble is aimed at the individual body as well as at the life of the popu lation as a whole. Normalization is
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 193 lived through everyday practices that are perceived as self-evident and natural. Additionally, the normal is naturalized with the effect of actuality, of authenticity. We thus believe, for ex ample, that the effect of power relations is the essence of our self, our truth, our own, actual core, the origin of our being. This normalizing self-governing is based on an imagined coherence, uniformity and wholeness, which can be traced back to the construction of a wh ite, male subject (Lorey, 2006b). Coherence is, once again, one of the prerequisites for modern sovereignty. The subject must believe that it is master in its own house (Freud, 2000: 284). If this fu ndamental imagination fails, then usually not only others perceive th e person in question as abnormal, but the person, too, has this opinion of him or herself. Lets remain with the learned way of self-relation, which is so existential for the biopolitical governmental modern era, and which applies to the entire population in very different ways. This relationship with ones self is based on the idea of having an inner nature, an inner essence that ultimately makes up ones unique individuality. These kinds of imagined inner, natural truths, these constructions of actuality, are usually understood as unalterable, merely able to be suppressed or liberated. Until today, they nourish the ideas of being able to, or having to, fashion and design ones self and ones life freely, autonomously, and according to ones own decisions. These kinds of power relations are therefore not easy to perceive as they commonly come along as ones own free decision, as a personal view, and until today produce the desire to ask: Who am I? or, How can I realize my potential? How can I find myself and most greatly develop the essence of my being? As mentioned, the concept of respons ibility of ones own, so commonly used in the course of neo-liberal restructuring, lies within this liberal force line of possessive individualism and actuality and only functions additionally as a neo-liberal interpellation for self-governing. Basically, governmental self-government takes place in an apparent paradox. Governing, controlling, disc iplining, and regulating ones self means, at the same time, fashioning and forming ones self, empowering ones self, which, in this sense, me ans to be free. Only through this paradox can sovereign subjects be governed. Precisely because techniques of governing ones self arise from the simultaneity of subjugation and empowerment, the simultaneity of compulsion and
Isabell Lorey 194 freedom, in this paradoxical mo vement, the individual not only becomes a subject, but a certain, modern free subject. Subjectivated in this way, this subject continually participates in (re)producing the conditions for governmentality, as it is first in this scenario that agency emerges. According to Foucault, power is practiced only on free subjects and only to the extent that they are free (Foucault, 1983). In the context of governmentality, subjects are, thus, subjugated and simultaneously agents, and in a certain sense, free. This freedom is, at the same time, a condition and effect of liberal power relations i.e., of biopolitical governmentality. Despit e all of the changes that have occurred until today, since the end of the eighteenth century, this is one of the lines of force through which individuals in modern societies can be governed. This normalized freedom of biopo litical governmental societies never exists without security mechanisms or constructions of the abnormal and deviant, which likewise have subjectivating functions. The modern era seems unthinkable withou t a culture of danger, without a permanent threat to the normal, without imaginary invasions of constant, common threats such as diseases, dirt, sexuality, or the fear of degeneration (Foucault, 2004b: 101f).9 The interplay of freedom and security, self empowerment and compulsion, also with the help of this culture of danger, drives on the pr oblems of the political economy of liberal power. Against this backdrop, all of thos e who did not comply with this norm and normalizing of a free, sovereign, bourgeois, white subject including its property relations were made precarious. Furthermore, in the context of the social state, which was meant to guarantee the security of modern insecurity, not only were women made structurally precarious as wives, through the nor mal labor conditions oriented on the man. Also those who were excluded as abnormal and foreign from the nation state compromise between capital and labor were likewise made precarious (Kleines Postfordistisches Drama, 2005a and 2005b; Mecheril, 2003). Precarization was, a ccordingly, until now always an inherent contradiction in liberal governmentality and, as abnormal, disturbed the stabilizing dynamic between freedom and security. In this sense, it was often the trigger for counter-behavior. Presently, normal labor conditions oriented on a male breadwinner, a situation largely accessible only for th e majority society, is losing its
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 195 hegemony. Precarization is increasingly a part of governmental normalization techniques and as a result, in neo-liberalism it transforms from an inherent contradict ion to a hegemonic function. Economizing of Life and the Absence of Counter-behavior The talk of the economizing of life, a discussion often struck up in the past several years, provides only very limited explanations of neo-liberal transformation processes: not only due to its totalizing rhetoric, but also because of the associated proclama tion of what is supposedly a new phenomenon. Economizing of life usually refers to certain simplified theses: no longer only work, but also life has fallen prey to economic exploitation interests; a separation between work and life is no longer possible and in the course of this an implosion of the distinction between production and reproducti on has also taken place. Such totalizing implosion theses speak of a collective victim status and distort the view of modes of subjectivation, agency, and ultimately of counterbehavior. However, the thesis of the econom izing of life makes sense from a biopolitical governmentality perspect ive. It points to the power and domination relations of a bourgeois liberal society, which for more than two hundred years now has been constituted around the productivity of life. In this perspective, life was never the other side of work. In Western modernity, reproduction was always part of the political and the economic. Not only reproduction, but also life in general was never beyond power relations. Instead, life, precisely in its productivity, which means its design potential, was always the effect of such relations. And it is precisely this design potential that is constitutive for the supposed paradox of modern subjectivat ion between subordination and empowerment, between regulation an d freedom. A liberal process of constituting precarization as an inherent contradiction, did not take place beyond this subjectivation, it is an entirely plausible resulting bundle of social, economic and political positions. In this sense, the currently lamented economization of life is not an entirely neo-liberal phenomenon, but in stead, a force line of biopolitical societies, which today perhaps beco mes intelligible in a new way. The associated subjectivations are not ne w in the way that they are usually claimed to be. In fact, their biopolitic al governmental continuities have hardly been grasped.
Isabell Lorey 196 Were living and working conditions, which arose in the context of social movements since the 1960s, really in no way governmental?10 Indeed, the thoroughly dissident practi ces of alternative ways of living, the desire for different bodies and self -relations (in feminist, ecological, left-radical contexts), persistently aimed to distinguish themselves from normal working conditions and the a ssociated constraints, disciplinary measures, and controls. Keywords here are: deciding for oneself what one does for work and with whom; consciously choosing precarious forms of work and life, because more freedom and autonomy seem possible precisely because of the ability to organize ones own time, and what is most important: self-determination. Often, being paid well hasnt been a concern as the remuneration was enjoying the work. The concern was being able to bring to bear ones many skills. Generally, the conscious, voluntary acceptance of precarious labor conditions was often certainly also an expression of the wish for living the modern, patriarchal dividing of reproduction and wage labor differently than is possible within the normal work situation. However, it is precisely these alternative living and working conditions that have become increasingly more economically utilizable in recent years because they favor th e flexibility that the labor market demands. Thus, practices and discou rses of social movements in the past thirty, forty years were not only dissident and directed against normalization, but also at the same time, a part of the transformation toward a neo-liberal form of governmentality. But to what extent are precarious modes of living and working, formerly perceived as dissident, now obvious in their hegemonic, governmental function? And why do they seem to lose their potential for counter-behavior? The following will offer a few thoughts without any claims of presenting a comprehensive analysis. Many of the cultural producers who have entered into a precarious situation of their own accord, the pe ople of whom we are speaking here as a whole, would refer consciously or unconsciously to a history of previous alternative conditions of existence, usually without having any direct political relationship to them They are more or less disturbed by their shift to the center of society i.e., to the place where the normal and hegemonic are reproduced. That does not mean, however, that former alternative living and workin g techniques will become socially hegemonic. Instead, it works the other way around: the mass
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 197 precarization of labor conditions is forced upon all of those who fall out of normal labor conditions along with the promise of the ability to take responsibility for their own creativity and fashion their lives according to their own rules, as a desirabl e, supposedly normal condition of existence. Our concern here is not with these persons forced into precarization, but those who say that as cultural workers they have freely chosen precarious living and working conditions (Kuster, 2006; Panagiotidis, 2005). It is amazing that there are no systematic empirical studies of this.11 The common parameters of cultural pr oducers, however, should be that they are well or even very well educated, between twen ty-five and forty years-old, without children, and more or less intentionally in a precarious employment situation. They pursue temporary jobs, live from projects and pursue contract work from several clients at the same time, one right after the other, usually without sick pay, paid vacations, or unemployment compensation, an d without any job security, thus with no or only minimal social protection. The forty-hour week is an illusion. Working time and free time have no clearly defined borders. Work and leisure can no longer be separated. In the non-paid time, they accumulate a great deal of knowledge, which is not paid for extra, but is naturally called for and used in the context of paid work, etc. This is not an economizing of life, that comes from the outside, overpowering and totalizing. Instead, these are practices connected with desire as well as adaptation. For these conditions of existence are constantly foreseen and co-produ ced in anticipatory obedience. Voluntary, i.e., unpaid or low payi ng jobs in the culture or academic industries, for example are all too often accepted as an unchangeable fact, and nothing else is even de manded. The necessity of pursuing other, less creative, precarious jobs in order to finance ones own cultural production is accepted. This forced and, simultaneously chosen, financing of ones own creative output constantly supports and reproduces precisely those relations from which one suffers and of which one wants to be a part. Perhaps those who work creatively, these precarious cultural producers by design, are subjects that can be exploited so easily because they seem to bear their living and working conditions eternally due to the belief in their own freedom and autonomy, due to self-realization fant asies. In a neo-liberal context they are exploitable to such an extreme th at the State even presents them as role models.
Isabell Lorey 198 This situation of self-precarizati on is connected to experiences of fear and loss of control, feelings of insecurity through the loss of certainties and safeguards, as well as fear and the experience of failure, social decline and poverty. Also for these reasons, letting go or forms of dropping out and dropping off of hegemonic paradigms are difficult. Everyone has to remain on speed otherwise you might fall out. There are no clear times for relaxation or recuperation. This kind of reproduction has no clear place, which, in turn, results in an unfulfilled yearning and a continuous suffering from this lack. The desire for relaxation to find oneself becomes insatiable. These kinds of reproductive practices usually have to be learned anew. They are lacking in any self-evidence and have to be fought for bitterly against oneself and others. In turn, this makes th is yearning for reproduction, for regeneration, so extremely marketable. As a result, not only the side of work, of production, has become precarious, but also the so-called other side, which is often defined as life, the side of reproduction. Do production and reproduction therefore coincide? In these cultural producers, in an old, new way, yes. What they reveal is that in a neo-liber al form of individualization, parts of production and reproduction ar e deposited in the subjects. Panagiotidis and Tsianos (2004: 19) also argue along these lines when they state: The progressive vanquishing of the division of production and reproduction does not occur at home or at the workplace, but instead, through an embodiment of th e work itself: a reflexive way of precarization! Though what is materialized in the bodies, beyond the work, is also always the governmental life, as biopolitical governmental power relations function doggedl y through the production of hegemonic, normalized bodies and self-relations. The function of reproduction consequently changes in the present context of precarious immaterial, usua lly individualized work and life. It is no longer externalized with others, primarily women. Individual reproduction and sexual reproducti on, the production of life, now becomes individualized and is shifted, in part, into the subjects themselves. It is about regeneration beyond work, also through work, but still, quite often beyond adequately paid wage labor. It is about regeneration, renewal, creating from ones self, re-producing ones self from ones own power: of ones own accord. Self-realization becomes a reproductive task for the self. Work is meant to guarantee the reproduction of the self.
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 199 Presenting precarized cultural producers (that is, cultural producers who have been made precarious) in th eir entire heterogeneity in such a uniform fashion, it is possible to say that their subjectivation in neoliberalism has obviously been contradi ctory: in the simultaneity of, on the one hand, precarization, which al so always means fragmentation and non-linearity, and on the other, the continuity of sovereignty. The continuity of modern sovereignty takes place through the stylizing of self-realization, autonomy, and freed om, through the fashioning of and responsibility for ones self, and the repetition of the idea of actuality. An example of this is the (still) widespread idea of the modern male artist subject, who draws his creati vity from himself, because it supposedly exists within him, ther e, where Western modernity also positions sex and has made it the natu re, the essence, of the individual. In general, for the cultural producers described here, sovereignty seems to rest mainly in the free decisi on for precarization, therefore, selfprecarization. Yet this, in turn, could be a central reason for why it is so difficult to recognize structural precarization as a neo-liberal governmental phenomenon that affects th e entire society, and is hardly based on a free decision. Cultural pr oducers therefore offer an example of the extent to which self-chosen ways of living and conditions of working, including their ideas of autonomy and freedom, are compatible with political and economic restructur ing. How else can we explain that in a study of the living and working conditions of critical cultural producers, when asked what a good life is, they had no answer?12 When work and life increasingly permea te one another, then that means, as one interviewee expressed: w ork seeps into your life. But obviously, not enough ideas of a good life seep into the work, whereby this could then, in turn transform into somethin g that could collectively signify a good life. The counter-behavi or with the view to a better life, which has less and less of a governmental function, is missing. Apparently, the belief in precarization as a liberal governmental oppositional position can be maintained with the help of contradictory subjectivation, between sovereignty an d fragmentation. However, in this way, continuing relations of power and domination are made invisible and normalization mechanisms become naturalized as the subjects selfevident and autonomous decisions. Th e totalizing talk of economizing of life only contributes to this by causing hegemony effects to disappear from view and with them struggles and antagonisms. Ones own imaginations of autonomy and freedom are not reflected on within
Isabell Lorey 200 governmental force lines of modern subjectivation, other freedoms are no longer imagined, thus blocking the view of a possible behavior contesting the hegemonic function of precarization in the context of neo-liberal governmentality. What is the price of this normalization? In neo-liberalism, what functions as the abnormal? As the deviant? What cant be economically exploited in this way? Rather than focusing on the messianic arrival of counter-behavior and new subjectivities, as Deleuze rhetorically formulates with the question: Do not the changes in capitalism find an unexpected encounter in the slow emergence of a new self as a centre of resistance? (Deleuze, 1988: 115)13, I believe that it is necessary to continue to work further and more precisely on the genealogies of precarization as a hegemonic function, on the problem of continuities of bourgeois governmental modes of subjectivation, also in the context of notions of autonomy and freedom that look upon themselves as dissident. Notes Thanks to Brigitta Kuster, Katharina Phl, and Gerald Raunig for critical discussions. 1. Cultural producers is used here as a paradox designation. It refers to an imagination of the designated subjects: that of their own autonomous production and of fashioning their selves. But at the same time it is about the fact that these ways of subjectivat ion are instruments of governing, thus functional effects of biopolitical govermental societies of occidental modernity. Therefore the term cultural producers has a contradictory meaning and does not in first place concern artists. With this conceptualization I also refer to the definition by the group kpD/kleines postfordistisches Drama (little post-Fordist drama) to which I belong, along with Brigitta Kuster, Katj a Reichard and Marion von Osten. (Translators note: The abbreviation KPD, all capital letters, stood for the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, the German Communist Party.) We employ the term cultural producers in a decidedly strategic way. With it, we are not speaking of a certain sector (cultural industry), nor of an ascertainable social category (for exam ple, those insured by artists social security in Germany, which is a health, pension and accident insurance for artists and writers) or of a professi onal self-conception. Instead, we are speaking of the practice of traveling across a variety of things: theory production, design, political and cult ural self-organization, forms of collaboration, paid and unpaid jobs, informal and formal economies,
Governmentality and Self-Precarization 201 temporary alliances, project related working and living (Kleines postfordistisches Drama, 2005b: 24). 2. Mercantilism was also oriented to ward the growth of the population, but oriented more in terms of quantitative aspects than quality of life of the people. 3. For one of the few places in which Foucault points out the inseparability of modern governmentality and biopolitic s, see Foucault (2004b: 43). On biopolitical governmentality as a socio-theoretical concept, see Lorey (2006a). 4. Following Louis Althussers thoughts, these imaginary self-relations cannot be separated from real living conditions, which are here the governmental techniques for ruling the population which, for example, materialize in the constitution of bodies. 5. I assume that it was not first under neo-liberalism that self-management shifted inward and replaced a regula tory principle. Regulation and control are not techniques that were first established under neo-liberalism to oppose discipline (Deleuze, 1992; Hardt and Negri, 2000). Particularly when reproduction technologies along with hy giene and health are attributed a central biopolitical productivity of (gendered and raced) bodies, then for the bourgeoisie the introduction of these practices of subjectivation must be positioned at the beginning of the modern era, at the end of the eighteenth century, at the latest. 6. This biopolitical subjectivation is, conversely, differentiated through gender, race, class affiliation, religion, and hetero-normativity, which I cannot go into in detail here. Generally, the text focuses solely on these force lines of bourgeois subjectivation. It is not ai ming at a comprehensive look at the problem of ways of subject constitution. 7. Foucault (2004b) on the contrary, speaks only in connection to the formation of neoliberal governmentality in the U.S. of the self employer; as does the research based on his work (Brckling, 2000; Pieper and Gutirrez Rodrguez, 2003). Lemke et al. (2000: 15 ) argue, for example, that first when the liberal regulation of natural freedom transformed into that of artificial freedom, was it possible to detect entrepreneurial behavior of economically-rational individuals. Yet what is this natural freedom other than the effect of governmental tec hniques and social struggles? And what, in contrast, is artificial freedom? 8. In his genealogy of governmentality, Foucault does not draw any explicit connections between the normal and the hegemonic. In order to understand the dynamic and meaning of governme ntality, normalization mechanisms must be viewed explicitly in connect ion with the production of hegemonic
Isabell Lorey 202 discourses and the related struggles. On the connection between Foucault and Gramsci, see Hall (1997) and Demirovic (1997). 9. Biopolitical governmentality structur es modern societies in a specifically paradoxical way. It enables, as Cornelia Ott so succinctly states, people to come to understand themselves as unique subjects, and at the same time, brings them together as an amorphous, unified, population mass. Hereby, the flipside is always the right to life rather than the exclusion or annihilation of life (Ott, 1997: 110). On the connection between biopolitical sociation and colonialism, see Lorey (2006b). 10. Boltanski and Chiapello (2001), in contrast, assume an appropriation. According to their study, the changes in capitalism since the 1960s can be traced back to a specific integrati on and strategic reformulation of an artistic critique, a critique that complains of the uniformity of a mass society, a lack of individual autonomy, and the loss of authentic social relations (see also Lemke, 2004: 176-78). 11. Initial approaches can be found in Bhmler and Scheiffele (2005); the study by Anne and Marine Rambach (2001) on precarious intellectuals in France; the theses by Angela McRobbie (2004) on the functionality of artists for the new economy; or the study by kpD (2005b). 12. As part of the film project Kamera Luft! ( Action! Zrich/Berlin 2004, 32), at the end of 2003, the group kpD (k leines postfordistisches Drama, see note 1 above) interviewed fifteen Berlin cultural producers (including kpD) with whom we work together for a speci fic form of political practice in the cultural field or whose work we use as a reference. Our questions were based on those from Fronte della Giovent Lavoratrices and Potere Operaios questionnaire action carried out in early 1967 in Mirafiori, Fiat is our University, which among other things, also asked about the ideas of a good life, and organization. With re gards to a potential politicization of cultural producers, we were, however, also interested in collective refusal strategies and in the associated wishes for improving ones own life, the life of others, and ultimately, social change. The only thing that was present at a general level in all of the interviews was the suffering from a lack of continuity. We, too, found almost no alternative life concepts in our horizon of ideas that could counter the existing ones with anything clear or unambiguous (2005b: 24; 2005a). 13. An extreme example of a current messianic idea is naturally the end of the book Empire by Hardt and Negri (2000), but also, although different and in a greatly weakend form, Foucault (1983) with his demand for new subjectivities.
20318 To Embody Critique: Some Theses, Some Examples Marina Garcs (Translated by Maribel Casas-Corts and Sebastian Cobarrubias/ Notas Rojas Collective Chapel Hill) Not only does it matter which principles we chose but also which forces, which people will apply them. (Merleau-Ponty) 1. The problem of critique has traditionally been a problem of conscience. Today it is a problem of the body. How do we incarnate critique? How does critical thought ac quire a body? If critique was used traditionally to combat darkness, today it must combat impotence. The global world is completely illuminated. Our minds are enlightened. There is nothing that we dont see: misery, lies, exploitation, torture, exclusion, etc. all are completely exposed and brought to light. Nonetheless we are capable of doing so little. About ourselves. For our world. We can say it all and nonetheless we have nothing relevant to add. To embody critique is not to find the correct wording, nor to become complacent in the gardens of good conscience, nor to sell the cheapest solutions to existing instit utions. To embody critique means to ask how to subvert ones life nowadays in such a way that the world can no longer remain the same. 2. The critique that historically fought ignorance had a hero: the artist-intellectual. His words and his actions were bearers of light: analysis, metanarratives, denunciati on, provocation These were the tools of an intervention made before and about the world. The artistintellectual worked from his desk, from his studio. That was his balcony. From there, his word could remain pu re or sell itself to the powers that be, sacrifice itself for the cause of the struggle or return the stability to the current order. This word coul d be right or wrong, faithful or
Marina Garcs 204 treacherous. The artist-intellectual could even abandon his balcony and join the multitude. A critique that battles impotence does not have a hero, or it has many. Its expressi on is anonymous, without a face. Its place of enunciation is wandering, in termittent, visible and invisible at the same time. Today, who is the su bject of enunciation of critical thought? Where will we find it? If we cannot name it, that is because it is an anonymous and ambivalent subject. Composed of theory and practice, of word and action, this subject is brilliant and miserable, isolated and collective, strong and weak. Its truth does not illuminate the world, rather its truth contradicts it. If the world claims: This is all there is, there exists a we that responds: That cannot be all. 3. Impotence is not the consequen ce of a historical weakness of social movements or of any other kind of political subject that we can think of. Their weakness is the result of a big change in social relations, where a logic of pertinence has been replaced by a logic of connection. This means that the inclusion/exclus ion of each one of us is decided not through our relationships of pert inence to some wider collective (a people, community, class) but rather in our capacity of connecting. Connections that must be fed and renovated permanently, maintained by each person throughout all activities in which s/he is completely invested. In the network-society, everyone is on their own in their connection to the world. Everyone figh ts their specific battle in order to avoid losing that connectivity to the world, to avoid remaining outside, to avoid making a story of exclus ion out of their own biography. To spend ones life looking for work, to risk ones life crossing borders: those are the two paradigmatic mo vements, the biographies of the precarious one and the immigrant one that we all are. The logic of pertinence had it own forms of domi nation. The logic of connection is simple and binary: either you are connected or you are dead. With this reformulation of social links which could be understood as a result of the historic defeat of the workers movement every life is put into motion toward the world. No one is sure of where they are: connections, personal and non-transferable, are inseparable from the threat of dis-connection. For this reason, this new social contract converts us into producers and reproducers of reality, in knots that strengthen the network: establishe d unilaterally through each person. This network obligates through selfobligation, controls through selfcontrol, represses through self repression.
To Embody Critique 205 4. Impotence is not the result of a historical weakness of social movements, nor is it the result of an incapacity of the I. I dont do/cannot do anything: not for society, not for the preservation of the planet, not to stop war Nothing. This is the declaration of selfcontemplation by a subject that can only move between culpability and cynicism. It is the voice of that I that is isolated in its connection to the network. Alone in a lonely world. Alone with all the rest. From its precarious and depoliticized connection, that I is prey for moralism, opinion, and psychology. This I mo ves between the spheres of some values that orbit around the world, with which s/he judges and is judged; the marketplace of opinions that offer this I a position in society and the restrictive envi ronment of disc omfort/comfort. 5. Fighting impotence and embodyi ng critique must pass firstly through attacking that I. Attacking the values with which we fly around the world, attacking the opinions with which we protect ourselves from the world, attacking our own particular and precarious comfort. If critique can define itself as a theoretical-practical discourse that has emancipatory effects, the principal objective of critique today must be to free ourselves from the I. The I is not our singularity. The I is the device that simultaneously isolates and connects us to the networksociety. Each person with their valu es, opinions, and stat es of mind can remain calm before the world, can remain impotent before the world. Cynical and guilty, the I always knows where it must remain. 6. Against the grain of the modern tradition, developing critical thought does not mean bringing th e subject to its highest degree of maturity and independence but rather, uprooting the I from that place that maintains it continuously in its place before the world. The modern ideal of emancipation was linked to the idea that to free oneself really meant to takeoff from the world of necessity, to undo the link until achieving a god-like self-suffici ency, individually or collectively. This would be the path from the kingdom of necessity toward the kingdom of liberty in its diverse fo rms. In our network-society, the question of a critical or emancipa tory thought should perhaps be different: to ask what is our capacity to conquer liberty in the act of networking itself. Nowadays, liberati on has to do with our capacity to explore the networked link and fortify it: the links with a planet-world, reduced to an object of consumption, a surface of displacements and a depository of wastes; as well as the links with those Others who, while always condemned to being other, have been evicted from the
Marina Garcs 206 possibility to say we. To combat impotence and embody critique then means to experience the we and the w orld that is amongst us. This is why the problem of critique is no l onger a problem of conscience but of embodiment: it does not concern a conscience facing the world but rather a body that is in and with the world. This not only terminates the role of intellectuals and their balconies, of which we have already spoken, but also disposes of the mechanisms of legitimation of the intellectuals word and their mode of expression. 7. The principal challenge for crit ique today is to challenge the privatization of our existence. In the globalized world, not only have goods and land been privatized but our very existence as well. The experience that we have of the world refers us to a private field of references: individual or collective, it is always self-referential. This privatization of existence has two consequences: first, the depoliticizing of the social question. This means that we have enemies but we dont know where our friends or allies are. We can perceive the foci of aggression against our lives, but not the line of demarcation between friend/enemy. We can speak of financial speculation, precarity, mobbing,1 borders, etc. But how do we name the we that suffers and struggles with these realities? By th e same mechanism, the enemy also becomes privatized. Every person ha s their own enemy, in their own particular problem. The multiple fronts of struggle are difficult to share. They infiltrate into every cell of our everyday misery, which is miserable precisely because in this everyday everyone is on their own, as an individual or in their small ghetto. Bu t the privatization of existence also has a second consequence: the radi calization of the social question, which sinks its roots directly in our own experience of the world and not someone elses. To ask for this we requires starting from the only thing we possess: our own experience. The fragmentation of meaning contains this paradoxical virtue: we are obliged to start with ourselves. Here we discover the importance of abandoning the third person, which dominated the traditional critical th inker, and exploring our own fields of possible experiences. The quest for the common today requires the courage to drown oneself in their actu al experience of the world, even if it is naked and empty of promises. This is what it means to embody critique. 8. In Barcelona 2002, a project emer ged from the necessity to begin a practical and collective form of critical thought. Collective, not because this thought does not have any proper names, but because in
To Embody Critique 207 each one of those names a we echoes. Practical, not because it excludes the theoretical dimension but because the world is not the object of study or contemplation for this project of critical thought. Rather the world is the area of operations of this projects collective body. We call this project Espai en Blanc, Blank Space in Catalan (www.espaienblanc.net). Linked to the antagonistic practices occurring in the city over the past few years, this project opened a breach where critical thought could circulate outsid e of the spaces of specialists and in/through the hands of the protagoni sts of real movements, in their fragility, their intermittence, and th eir anonymity. Out of the works and projects in which Espai en Blanc has participated, three examples will be mentioned to indicate what to embody critique might mean today: the report Barcelona 2004: el fascismo postmoderno (Barcelona 2004: postmodern fascism, 2004); the movie El taxista ful (The Full Taxi Driver, 2005); and the series of encounters La tierra de nadie en la red de los nombres (No mans land in the network of names, 2006). 9. The first example, the Barcelona 2004: postmodern fascism report, demonstrates how a theoreti cal intervention can be embodied in the city. This intervention took pla ce in the framework of the campaign against the Forum Universal de las Culturas (Universal Forum of Cultures), a large international event organized by city institutions in Barcelona 2004. Espai en Blanc contributed an analysis that uncovered the mechanism by which the project for a multicultural city being proposed by the municipality was in reality the implementation of a new device of de-politicization and neutra lization of conflicts. What we call postmodern fascism is based in mobilizing all the existing differences in the city towards a single project fo r that city, towards a single reality. However, what could be done so that this analysis didnt just float above and out of Barcelona but could actually intervene and interfere in the citys movements? The idea, togeth er with the Bellaterra publishing house and other critical collectives in the city, was to edit and compile this analysis, together with other materials in a free book.2 The book was released at a large public gathering, and two distribution points were selected. Those people interested in the book, would have to personally go and get it and could only obtain one copy each. In two weeks 3,000 copies were distributed. Even more in teresting, though, is the fact that the appearance of the book provoked a mobilization. People had to decide for themselves how far to let their interest take them, travel to another part of the city, and personally relate with the editor and with
Marina Garcs 208 the collectives that were promot ing the book. All kinds of people arrived: teachers, activists, politic ians(!), and most of all, many anonymous folks whose intuition led th em to identify with the words in the title or the description of the book. Many bodies were mobilized in order to share their rejection, rage and critiques against a model of the city that was getting more hypocritically aggressive everyday. 10. The second example, the movie El taxista ful (2005), is an example of how all critique is done with and on our very body, with and on our own life, especially when ou r life is understood as a common problem. This project was born out of a long collective initiative dealing with the critical consequences of precarity. For years, this assembly called Dinero Gratis (Free Money) was wondering, how could one refuse to work when the factory and stable jobs no longer exist? From that perspective a series of campaign s, actions and writings were carried out that called to attention the probl ems that our relations with money, both individual and collect ive, present nowadays. The film director Jordi Sol (Jo Sol) proposed a film project about these issues. The interesting thing was that it wasnt about producing a documentary about a political movement or a social problem, but ra ther using film to interrogate our own practices, and call to the film spectator at the same level. We worked without actors and without a written script. We were both subject and object of the process of cr eating this film. Together with Jo Sol and the non-actor Pepe Rovira, a very real fiction entered our lives: the story of a man that robbed taxis in order to work. This was a guy who wanted to have a normal life, that continued to aspire to this normal life, and that in the process of pursuing this dream, had become a thief and a lunatic in the eyes of th e law and society. What would this guy think of us? How would he relate to us? Two lines of flight, two forms of resistance to the violence of work and money are found in a story of friendship, our true story of friendship. We dont have a solution to the problem of money, nor do we have an ideology that explains and resolves our relationship to precarity. We have the capacity to present ourselves, to learn an d struggle from our own field of possible experiences. The movie speaks form there. The movie calls to the audience from there. 11. Finally, the third example is abou t the gatherings called La tierra de nadie en la red de los nombres (No mans land in the network of names) taking place in 2006. This initiative is an example of how critical thought is produced amongst us. Th at is to say, the production of
To Embody Critique 209 critical thought happens when we br eak the hierarchy thinker-audience in order to constitute a thinking we in order to build a collective word capable of advancing through the pr oblems that are truly problems. For five months, Espai en Blanc called for an encounter every last Thursday of each month in a local coffee-bar. Each gathering dealt with a specific problematic (social disquiet, border spaces, the experience of we, and speaking up) and began with a seri es of questions and materials for consultation that were distributed through a blog site. The attendance was made of those that wanted to be there: no announced conferences, no coordinating committee, no turns to speak or rebuttal. Throughout the 5 months, more than a hundre d people, most of whom did not know each other, gathered together in order to think collectively. This anonymous self-called assembly opened a space for politicizing our language and our lives. Against the privatization of our existence, a world amongst us appeared. In todays metropolises there are many collective happenings, we could even say that the majority of happenings are collective. Nonetheless, the city had completely lost the ability of calling itself to assemble. Its happenings are empty of a we. We only move if someone calls us, if there is a programmed activity, and if were told what to do. At th ese gatherings, we didnt know what would happen, who would come, what direction the discussions would go in, or when silence would devour us. We came with knots in our stomachs. And every time, one after another, the encounter worked. With more or less tensions during the course of the discussion, each time a we emerged that gave the happening meaning. Thanks to this we could think in another way. During these processes lives are shaken up. We no longer walk the same way when we return home. Maybe we dont even know exactly what we th ink. Perhaps, an empty space was opened, a blank space where other ways of living could be explored together with other people. Another consciousness? No, a body better prepared to battle fear, a body more exposed and less isolated. A body that knows that its life does not bel ong solely to itself, and everything depends in that which goes beyond itself. Notes 1. Translators note: Mobbing refers to many types of harassment and psychological pressures used to coerce, stress or defeat someone with serious emotional and physical results. The term is used most often in reference to the workplace and when there is some involvement (or
Marina Garcs 210 tolerance) of management. It is not the same as sexual or racial harassment though the lines may be difficult to draw. Mobbing has also been referred to bullying, psychological terror and emotional violence. 2. This book can be downloaded at http://www.ed-bellaterra.com/ uploads/pdfs/FOTUT%202004X.pdf
21119 The Double Meaning of Destitution Stefan Nowotny (Translated by Aileen Derieg) What do we do with what we ha ve done? (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 34). The practical self-reflexivity of this question assumes a special meaning, when that which was done, which the sentence refers to, involves an insurrection, one that can certainly be regarded as successful, but not in the sense that the success of this insurrection consisted in taking over power. Had the latter been the case, then the meaning of the question would inevit ably have been unambiguous: a revolutionary break would separate what is to be done now from all actions that first created the preconditions for what is currently to be done; and this break would make th e conducting of the insurrection appear, more or less clearly, as the subject matter of a specific historiography on the one hand, whereas on the other it would open up the terrain, in which the current task field of governing could appear (although its formulated objectives would certainly be expected to maintain a certain congruence with t hose of the insurrection). But what if no break of this kind prefigured the double sense of (past and present) actions? What if it was not a matter of appropriating a truth about what had happened a truth that simultaneously presupposes and actuates the described break but rather of probing the newly opening perspectives for action and elaborating the becoming that is articulated in what happened? (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 34). Destitution as Opening: Insurrection and Deposition Let us look at the social and political situation, in which the opening question taken from a book by th e Colectivo Situaciones, a group
Stefan Nowotny 212 active in Buenos Aires is specifically located; we will need to work out the implications that are only briefl y and provisionally outlined there. This relates to the Argentinean in surrection movements that became manifest especially on 19 and 20 December 2001, which formed at the apex of the Argentinean state, economic and financial crisis induced by the neo-liberal policies of Carlos Menem and, in the end, the lack of international financial aid, after private savings accounts had been frozen, among other things, on 1 December of that year, to protect the parity of the Argentinean peso with the US dollar. Borne by a multiplicity of social actors, ranging from the Argentinean middle class, loudly expressing their resentment about the freezing of their savings in cacerolazos (pot-banging demonstrations) to the unemployed people of various piqueteros groups and their specific forms of action (street barricades, collective meals, parades, etc.), the movements found their point of unification especially in the demand Que se vayan todos! (All of them should go!) (Colectivo Situaci ones, 2003). This demand had some measure of success, at least in the form of a whole series of resignations of respectively appointed state pr esidents at the end of 2001 and beginning or 2002. What primarily interests me here is less a detailed discussion of the events in Argentina in December 2001 (see also Moreno, 2005) than a close observation of the motifs that the militant research of Colectivo Situaciones sees in them (and in which they took part): the motif of destitution or the deposing, destitut ing insurrection. What is striking about this motif in the analysis of Colectivo Situaciones is certainly that it dissolves the link between the de stituting movement and the specific institutive gesture, which ties the deposition or disem powerment of the ruling political forces a priori to th e political purpose or end of a reinstitution, a renewed institution and occupation of the even if possibly reformed organs of the ex ercise of power in the sense of governing: The sovereign and creative forces incited a rebellion, to which they tied no intentions of instituting power as it is anticipated by the political doctrine of sovereignty , but inst ead exercised their power to depose the established political forces. This is probably the paradox of the days of 19 and 20 December. An entirety of instituting forces far removed from founding a new sovereign orde r, which instead delegitimized the politics carried out in their names. (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 35)
The Double Meaning of Destitution 213 At first glance, this suspension of th e institutive end appears as a pause at exactly the point that is ca pable of evoking the political horror vacui par excellence: an abhorrence of the vacuum of political power and its functions of founding laws and social order. The political effects of this horror vacui are numerous: they range from the legitimization figures of an authoritarian, sometimes putschist power of order over the attempt to prevent the emergence of this kind of vacuum (invoking the specter of ungovernability, alleviating social tensions, pushing security doctrines, etc.), all the way to the themes, dominant in the history of leftist political theory, of possible (new) ways to fill this vacuum (revolutionary takeover of power, renewal of the legal systems, institutional apparatuses, governing techniques, etc.). The latter lead back to the initially mentioned conf iguration of the question What do we do with what we have done? which subsequently interprets the vacuum simply as a break in othe r words, to the configuration that is specifically undermined by the motif of destituting power. However, the vacuum is only a vacuum to the extent that it is measured against the aforementioned functions of political power and the representation of political subj ects linked to them. Relying on the described horror vacui in analyzing destitution decoupled from reinstitution would hence mean identifying the question of the political or political power with just these func tions, specifically by disregarding a social positivity, which I would like to call political appearance here. Yet it is precisely this question of political appearance especially under the name of social protagonism that concerns the Colectivo Situaciones: Destitution is a process of the greatest significance: if the politics previously carried out by a sovereign power is realized in the state constitution of the social, the destitut ing action appears to be a different form of conducting politics or ex pressing social transformation. Destitution holds no a-political stance: the refusal to maintain representative politics (of sovereignty) is the condition and the premise of a situational thinking and of all the practices, whose potentials for meaning can no longer be demanded from the state. (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 36) The practice of destitution that ex pands the field of the possible can thus be linked with conducting soci al protagonism that is not limited to the functions of founding sovere ignty (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 36) and gives expression to the af orementioned potentials of meaning
Stefan Nowotny 214 outside the realm of the figures of state representation. From this perspective, as the research of the Colectivo Situaciones shows, not only can demonstrations, neighborhood assemblies, barter practices or new forms of political organization be analyzed, but also looting, for example. To the extent that one is willing to abandon the view linked with the horror vacui described above, which makes the mere fact of looting appear exclusively as (ultimately abstract) evidence for the war of all against all in the absence of a state power of order, looting shows itself to be an ambivalent netw ork of social agency permeated by differences and linked with gestures of self-constraint.1 Yet other political-social struggles can also be regarded from the same perspective of a social protagonism, such as the struggle of the Sans-Papiers, which is situated exactly on one of the central intersections of state political repr esentation, namely that of coupling political citizenship with belonging to a (nation-) state. Not only would it be obviously absurd to understand migrants without papers as a revolutionary subject of the type seeking to take over power in some form, but the struggles of the Sans Papiers can also not be reduced to fighting for inclusion in the existing apparatuses of political representation unless one disreg ards the structural zone of intersection between the (juridical, economic, etc.) dispositifs of the nation-state and its supra-national extensions as well as the dispositifs of the globalized economies and politic s engendering new dependencies and forms of exploitation, in which these struggles are located and which are made manifest by them. Destitution is expressed here in practices of becoming invisible (in the face of state powers of control), which are linked with specific knowle dge productions and networks of social agency, as well as in new forms of political organization and the affirmation of a newly concei ved political situationality. Let us note three moments of the concept and the practice of destitution as demonstrated here, which may shed a somewhat clearer light on the notion of political appearance at the same time: 1. First, the concept of destitution is to be detached from a certain dialectical grid, which may appear obvio us at first glance: it is not the work of negativity that is centrally effective in destitution, but rather a positive no (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003), which in the rejection of a certain figure of representation simultaneously and not first through taking over or influencing to change institutional political functions
The Double Meaning of Destitution 215 produces a self-changing affirmation that engenders new practices and modes of subjectification, from whic h the no first derives its force. Understood in this way, destitution is neither a deposition relating to the purpose or end of a re-institution of the fullness of power, nor simply a rejection in the sense of a disinvolve ment, but rather indicates, first of all, a social practice. The motif is not entirely new, ev en though it arrives at a new topicality in the contexts described. It is one of the central motifs in Walter Benjamins 1921 essay On the Critique of Violence, specifically in the form of the question of th e positivity of the strike. More precisely, Benjamin distinguishes the proletarian general strike from the political general strike; the latter me rely seeks to achieve ends that are external to labor and to ones own action, and which thus achieves no transformation of labor and action. The proletarian general strike, on the other hand, eludes, according to Benjamin, the dialectical rising and falling in the historical political formations of violence continued through law-making and law-preserving, because it is like an upheaval that this kind of strike not so much causes as consummates (Benjamin, 1978: 292). The logic of action describe d here is that of a de-position, which is not oriented a priori to framework conditions of action modified for a performative new positin g or re-institution, but rather to the opening of a field of changing possibilities for action (Hammacher, 1994: 360). 2. In all of this, however, a misunderstanding is to be avoided, which frequently occurs in social roma ntic form, grounded, however, in a certain often Spinozist-influenced variation of metaphysical natural law theory conceptions: the misunderstanding that the described affirmation is already necessarily emancipatory per se. The book by Colectivo Situaciones is not entirely free from this itself, yet it supplies clear evidence for the problems that are linked with a perspective of this kind: The most diverse slogans could be hear d, first in the city districts of Buenos Aires, then in the Plaza de Mayo. Anyone who doesnt skip along is an Englishman. Anyone who doesnt skip along is a military. Or Traitors to the fatherland agains t the wall. Cavallo you are a pig. Argentina, Argentina. And the cry most frequently heard on 19 December: You can stick the state of emergency up yours. And later the first Que se vayan todos. The potpourri of demo slogans made the
Stefan Nowotny 216 struggles of the past newly mani fest in the present. (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 27) And it is not difficult to recognize th at with these struggles of the past, the nationalisms and chauvinisms of th e past also reappear. Not only is the indeterminacy of the affirmation in the destituent movement, as a collective affirmation of the possi ble (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 28), open to very different codings, it is also borne by ambivalences and historical political structurings of affect, which are by no means emancipatory per se or a purely rebellious present (just as little as they engender pure violent chaos, as the other in short, Hobbesian variation of natural law theory imaginaries would claim). Instead, they are permeated by re-actualizations of political and probably also personal struggles of the past, which underlay that which is possible with a pre-formed reality and literally reactionary facilitations. 3. It thus seems all the more important to pay attention to the difference that the texts cited above introduce into a series of political concepts: they speak of sovereign and creative forces, which do not seek, however, to found a new sovere ign order; of instituent forces, although these are not linked with instituting intentions. We can certainly come to an understanding a bout this difference that appears in the terminology, based on the difference between potentia and potestas that is currently frequently cited in political theory. In the following, however, the focus is on the question of the institution or instituting, the virulence of which has an obvious connection to the motif that was the starting point for these reflecti ons: the motif of destitution and its relation to an expansion of the field of the possible. Destitution as Destruction: Subject Condition, Subjectification and the Question of Instituent Activity Let us first consider a meaning of the concept of destitution that appears to be diametrically opposed to the one discussed so far. In the final section of his book Remnants of Auschwitz Giorgio Agamben outlines an interpretation of the moda lities of possibility (to be able to be), contingency (to be able not to be ), impossibility (not to be able to be), and necessity (not to be able not to be), which detaches these modalities from their classical roots in logic and ontology, relating them to a theory of subjectivity. Agambe n reads the first two possibility and contingency as operators of subjectification. In contrast,
The Double Meaning of Destitution 217 impossibility, as negation of possib ility  and necessity, as negation of contingency , are the operators of de-subjectification, of the destruction and destitution of th e subject (Agamben, 1999: 147). Agamben takes over the concept of destitution from Primo Levi, who spoke of the experience of extreme destitution ( destituzione estrema ) in the Nazi death and concentration camps. Here it means anything but a deposing power; instead it characterize s an impotence that is not simply the absence of any capacity, but rather the experience of the annihilating separation of the subject from his or her executive capacities, experience of de-subjectification reaching to the limit of the capacity for experience: [Possibility and contingency] constitute Being in its subjectivity, that is, in the final analysis as a world that is always my world, since it is in my world that possibility exists and touches ( contingit) the real. Necessity and impossibility, instead, define Being in its wholeness and solidity, pure substantiality without subject that is, at the limit, a world that is never my world since possibility does not exist in it. (Agamben, 1999: 147, trans. modified) It is hardly necessary to say that a world, which is only my world to the extent that possibility exists in it, is also the only world that is open to change, a world in which another world is possible. However, it is also a world that is principally in danger of being set up as pure substantiality, which annihilates every possibility. Agambens considerations do not at all seek to re-establish classical subject theory conceptions. Instead they explore a thinking from the extreme of its annihilation of liv ing subjectivity, which is only a different name for a historically politically situated capacity of subjectification, a a field of forces always already traversed by the  historically determined currents of potentiality and impotentiality, of being able not to be and not being able not to be (Agamben, 1999: 147). This capacity of subjectificati on is exposed to the condition of a fundamental passivity, in which its sp ecific possibilities and the capacity of expanding these possibilities are grounded, in which, however, also its seizure, its injury and its boundless destruction are located (cf. Blanchot, 1969: 200; and Kofman, 1987).2 It is exactly at this point that the theory of testimony is loca ted, which Agamben develops in conjunction with the passages quoted and based on a specific interpretation of the problem of linguistic reference as verbally
Stefan Nowotny 218 actualized contingency and touching the real. A detailed discussion of this theory is not possible here; I limit myself to referring to the conjunction between the possibility of testimony and that of resistance, which is implicitly at stake in it.3 What is crucial for the considerations developed here is that the concept of destitution, which previously appeared as destituent power, as a name for a capacity of subject ification releasing the possible now indicates a subject condition, which exposes every capacity for subjectification not only to negation or alienated representation, but also the extreme of its systematic annihilation. In fact, Agambens analysis does not relate simply to the counterpart of representative politics in a sense that might be situational but is also capable of generalization in many respects, but rather to the institutional apparatus of an industrialized politics of anni hilation that directly takes hold of those it persecutes, a politics that eludes any generalization. It is a politics that nevertheless undoubtedly mobilized its own predominantly anti-Semitic figures of representation and never carried out its work of annihilation independ ently from strategies of symbolic annihilation. What destitution mean s in the experience of the Nazi camps is, in Adornos words, worse than death (1975: 364), namely the disintegration of subjective exis tence with the mobilization of all institutional power. Ultimately, however, the situational is not decided by what is capable of generalization, but rather by what is generally valid in a different sense: namely by what, in every situat ion, can be actualized or robbed of its possibilities of actualization.4 The problem that Agambens analysis poses is thus, after all, that of the interlocking of the double meaning of institution (as a function of political representation, setting up the scope of the possible, regulating, c onstraining, managing it and still managing it in the will to annihilation on the one hand and as instituent practice on the other) with the double meaning of destitution (as the release of a f ield of the possible and as the destruction of the always contingent possibility of subjectification as such). Institution and dest itution, also in this sense, are by no means in a relationship of a dialectic al opposition, the oppositi on, for example, that has long made insurrection appear as an irresolvable problem of political juridical theory (Nowotny 2003b). Rather, what should be presumed is a relationship of complex implications, which opens up the field of political struggles and, to re turn to our initial theme, makes an
The Double Meaning of Destitution 219 instituent moment that is not an end manifest in the midst of the destituent insurrection. Despite the apparent conceptu al opposition, destitution as destituent power would thus yield the outlines of an instituent activity, which is emancipatorily different from the institutional apparatuses that limit the field of the possible and wh ich, incidentally, perhaps cannot be grasped with here largely om itted conceptualizations of constitution. In this sense, talk of instituent forces (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003) is not to be over hastily regarded as an example of a new constitution of the multitude (Negri, 2007), but rather to be taken literally. It is possible that the reason for the frequently lamented poverty of political (and not only i mmediately political) institutions is specifically that the function of inst itutions has almost always been regarded as dependent on a constitution in the sense of an antecedent composition. And this may also be the reason why the opposition of constituent and constituted power, which undoubtedly seeks to undermine the antecedence of the com position, results in a practical paradox that of the permanently c onstituting republic (Negri, 2003) that leaves little scope for a new understanding of the institution or the instituent. At this point, however, it might be possible to attempt a reconception of the instituent, which wo uld not ignore the critique of the institutional and the power of dest itution described above, but would instead focus on a positivity of the instituent action against this background. In his lectures at the Collge de France in 1954/55, devoted to the question of instituting/institution, Maurice Merleau-Ponty placed the concept of the institution not in a hierarchical functional conjunction with the concept of the constitution, but rather in opposition to it. Merleau-Pontys reflections start from a critique of the philosophy of consciousness, which remains inscribed in the language in which these reflections are formulated; nevertheless, they can certainly also be read in the sense of the thinking of the capacity for subjectification outlined above, and explicitly aim, not least of all, for a thinking of subjectivity in its political social historicity: Yet if the subject is instituent, not constituent, then one can understand that it is not limited to its momentary being and that the other is not the negative of my self. What I have started at certain crucial moments, is neither in a distant past as an objective memory, nor is it current as a
Stefan Nowotny 220 lived memory, but is found instead in this in-between realm [ lentre-deux ] like the field of my becoming during this period of time. Hence my relationship to others could not be reduced to an alternative: an instituent subject can co-exist with an other, because that which is instituted is not the immediate refl ection of its actions. This can be taken up again subsequently by itself or by others without being a complete re-creation. In this way it is like a hinge between the others and me, on the one hand, and between me and my self, on the other, as consequence and guarantee of our belonging to the world. (MerleauPonty, 2003: 123) It seems that it is this kind of shared field of becoming that is meant translated into the language of the political in the question quoted in the beginning, What do we do with what we have done? which the power of destitution aims to open up, and whose potentials of meaning cannot be redeemed by the figures of existing institutional structures. It may become visible in events such as those of 19 and 20 December 2001, and yet it does not exist independently from an instituent activity that is not completed in these ev ents and does not end with them. Notes 1. As one mother, whose son was involved in looting a butcher shop, relates: My son said that some of them first went to work on the cash register. So he threw the cash register on the floor so that the others could not get to the money, but should only take the food that they needed. Then a fight started and my son left. But first he took food for all of us and even brought some cheese (Colectivo Situaciones, 2003: 107). 2. At the same time, at the theoretica l level Agambens thinking is permanently in discussion with a certain vitalism in post-structural theory construction, evident for example in Foucault and Deleuze, which refutes every substantialization of life, only to see in this concept, nevertheless, the cipher of immanent processes of subj ectification (self-affection: selfactualization and self-effectuation). 3. This is a conjunction that was already prefigured by Ferdinand Bruckner in 1933, in his drama Die Rassen (Bruckner, 1990: 418): Helene It is our only paltry resistance, / Karlanner (nods) You fight. / Helene that nothing is covered up, that all testimonies remain preserved. The scope of this conjunction, which calls for a break in the understanding of testimony after Auschwitz, was hardly to be foreseen in 1933.
The Double Meaning of Destitution 221 4. Cf. the distinction between the precondition of a capability of generalization of (just) ends by law, which abstracts from situationality, and situation-specific general validity as criterion of justice in Walter Benjamins writing (1978); this distinct ion should also be noted by all those who, with critical intentions or not, attribute to Agamben the claim that the entire contemporary world is a Nazi camp.
22320 Towards New Political Creations: Movements, Institutions, New Militancy Ral Snchez Cedillo (Translated by Maribel Casas-Corts and Sebastian Cobarrubias) A set of recurrent symptoms is forcing us to imagine, remember, project and build institutions. Particular dates and events can guide us as a compass in understanding the necessity of institutional construction: 1 January 1994, the day the EZLN rose up in arms against the Mexican government and against world-wide neo-liberal power. More than thirteen years have already passed since that event marked a way out from what Flix Guattari called the years of winter. Slightly less distant are the days of Genoa, 20-22 July 2001, which, without a doubt, marked an inflection point in the capacity of political creation/creativity of the so called movement of movements. The declaration of war on the movement by the G8 (through the Berlusconi administration) and, during the same year, the instauration of the regime of global war after September 11, closed the democratic political space that the global movement was building since it s foundational moment, on 30 September 1999 in Seattle. As we know, the movement against the war in Iraq was qualified by the New York Times as the worlds second superpower. This time, though, it was about the potential of public opinion, a new pole of influence within the democracies of opinion, that is to say, a domesticated and neutralized potential. This was six years ago, and the in nuce political space that the movements were prefiguring currently maintained by only a few experiments such as the Euromayday process seems to be closing in leaps and bounds. This closure has been even more pronounced since the rejection by French and Dutch voters of the European Constitutional Treaty, paradoxically reinforcing the undemocratic, purely confederal and inter-
Ral Snchez Cedillo 224 governmental character of the pr ocess of European construction, Sarkozy docet The consequences of this closure of political space are political impotence, organizational weakness and the dispelling of subjectivity or, said in another way, the crisis of subjectivity production, a crisis of its consistency and self-organization. Those seem to be the central traits of the current crisis of the moveme nt form in the European territory. This translates itself into an incapaci ty, in the first place, to build local and regional struggles that can express force relationships. For example, specific struggles in the terrain of the precarization both of salary and social rights; and more generally, struggles against the emergent form of governance intimately linked to the general mobilization of society as a production machine, to workfare and to warfare, which nowadays inform the current social policies and labor relations in the continent whose center of gravity is the European Union. Departing from these brief notes on the current conjuncture, what use or heuristic potential is offered by the creation and/or replacement/destruction of instituti ons? There is indeed some use for reflection on institutions, especially if we are able to simultaneously circumscribe concrete problems to c oncrete and current situations and situate ourselves within the large quantity of critique and theory focused on contemporary institutions in the current conjuncture. This conjuncture is marked by the neutralization of the constituent power of social movements. It is also situat ed in a context where life is equally political and productive, in such a way that it is only formally possible to establish distinctions between the pro cess of politicization of individual and collective lives on the one hand, and the matrixes of a new productive power (outside and/or agains t measures of value). That is to say, from the point of view of the capacity of capture and control over cooperative singularities, the technologies and mechanisms of networked biopower are only capabl e of dictating sequences of economic value in accordance with a social relationship among subjects, among creative individuals who are ab le to influence each other, to exercise power over each other, (and thus to change their own attitude), in accordance with mobile relations hips and within an open notion of space-time. These criteria are marked by the generalized market of all forms of life, which is also a decisi ve dimension of the project, within which all the competencies of the subject should be concatenated in order to obtain the goals of self-valorization.
Towards New Political Creations 225 In this sense, the individual (as a form) as well as its relationships, interactions, experiences, etc. beco mes essential for this neo-liberal ontology of production and of govern ment. It is possible to pose the following hypothesis: for this produc tive individual, the current regime of war as a constitutive element of her/his own vital worldworks in two ways. The war regime, within the concrete parameters of different levels of life stability, works both as a pile of risks and uncertainties, as a deficit of information, of fear and hope, as well as an incentive for its own performance within the produc tive network of total social mobilization, as a constant confirmation of the finitude and fragility of his/her own project. Thus, an active selection of available tools and experiences becomes necessary. Lets make an effort to orient ourselves. Lets start by delimiting what we are referring to wi th the notion of institution itself. I think the theme of institutions is of crucial and extraordinary relevance in its relationship with the problem of social and thus political counterpowers, with the project of a network of counter-powers able to bear a discontinuous and unpredictable dyna mic proper of constituent exodus happening within the complex device of capitalism-governance-war. What does this active selection im ply? As was mentioned before, it would chiefly imply a radical distanci ng from the contents and goals of previous periods, contexts and proj ects of institutional critique and require the imagining of a new world of libratory institutions. It becomes evident that, outside of the conditions of contextualization and situation discussed earlier, we run the risk of inventing a new environment from scratch, separated and isolated from the problems of conflict, organization, subjectivit y production and counter-power in new social movements. We run the risk then of making a virtue out of a necessity. We run the risk of using a generic reference such as institutions to cover the emptiness that critical practices hate or religiously adore, as well as to c onceal the solid neutralization of the political space currently afoot within the European territory. Institutions, da capo Lets come back to the term. Lets depart from the extremely problematic notions of institutio and instituere. The term institutio refers to a foundation and a plan, a project, an elaborated intention, while instituere means to prepare, to arrange, to establish, but also to organize something that already exists, and to form and to instruct. These
Ral Snchez Cedillo 226 meanings are without a doubt quite generic; however they are interesting in order to productively focus on the question. The goal is to depart from the epistemic and political imaginary blockage that arises with the question of institutions, wh ich includes references (images or icons sometimes) as serious as the stat e apparatus, as well as institutions such as school, prison, hospital, political parties, museums and other public infrastructures. In this way, we can get out, at least for a moment, to the open air offered by instituere and the instituent. Gilles Deleuze offers a series of simple and stark considerations about the creative, positive and affi rmative dimensions of generating institutions, in contrast with the law, with the violence of the norm. These considerations are written in a brief piece, linked to his work on David Hume, called Instincts and Institutions (in Deleuze, 2004a: 1921). According to Deleuze, on the one hand, institution and instinct share the search for satisfying tendencies and necessities; and on other hand, they distinguish themselves in the moment that the institution works as an organized system of mean s for satisfaction, an institutional means that is able to a priori de termine social modalities that frame individual experiences. Institutions ar e, in contrast with laws, the main structures where the social is inve nted, where an affirmative and not limiting or exclusivist know-how is produced. In this way, we are able to get beyond the exclusive fixation on the object of institutions in its meanings used by other trains of thoughts and by critical practices, from the dialectics of the inauthentic and the alienated essence that even today inform some Situationist and neoSituationsist positions, as well as the institutional critique defended by the circles of art and artivism, to the analysis of disciplinary institutions, including its diagram pow er-resistances (psychiatric ward, hospital, prison, school) linked to the apparently more politicized period of Michel Foucaults work and public life. But we know there are other Foucaults. The later Foucault mainly developed and lived in the North American territories (USA and Canada), offers us notes full of inspiration, even in reference to the question of institutional creation. The emergence of the themes around techniques of the self and its relationship with governmentality, and with the technologies of the government of populations, is intimately linked to Foucaults own experience and close relation to the minorities of desire and their political as well as academic expressions, from the late 1970s until his death (Lazzarato, 2006b).
Towards New Political Creations 227 In studying contemporary neo-liberalism, Foucault discovers a selflimitation practice on the part of government, a critique of the raison detat which is internal to the very pr oblematic of governmentality. The condition of this self-limitation practi ce is the definition of an absolute reference: society, in which populations are inserted. Within society it is possible to discover of dynamics self-organization, processes that are autonomous in relation to governmental interventions; to the point that excessive interventionism on the part of the sate, the proliferation of unnecessary legal interventions, may contribute to the failure of the very same goals defended by the problematic of governmentality. Institutions and Movement: The Great Tactic Lets get back now to our ow n contemporary problems and ask ourselves about the following question: to what degree is an institutionalization process able to positively displace a neutralized political space? That is to say: could a concrete recognition and specific work on the issues of institutional formation be a relevant factor to support movements, and strengthen struggles against the regime of cognitive capitalism and against the regime of war/state of emergency, regimes that are informing the curre nt system of governance both at the global and European levels? Before trying to provide a temporary answer to that question, we could l ook for inspiration in perspectives working on this issue, produced in the initial moments of the movements that followed the existenti al revolution of 1968. This is the case in a text by Antonio Negris work dedicated to the critical fatal, in retrospect period of the social pr oletarian movement in Italy in the late 1970s. This urgent, preemptory and practically unknown piece was submitted for publication from prison after the blitzkrieg attack of the Italian state on 7 April 1979. The piece was called Class Politics: Five Campaigns (Negri, 1980). The situation at the time was one of total crisis of the different Italian autonomous political structur es and perspectives. However, the text in question tried to interpret th e crisis as a possibility for a total renewal of the movement, as a break with old and alien facades, tools, discourses and institutions, used by the political structures of the new movement. It attempted to grasp the crisis beyond the terms of autonomy from the political, beyond the worse the better enunciated by terrorist groups, and beyond the catastrophic positions of capitalist elites. Negris approach to the crisis as a creative crisis was based on a
Ral Snchez Cedillo 228 project of political medi ation, both internal as well as external to the new movement, as a project of build ing its own similar and friendly political space. According to Negri, the problem to be resolved consisted of breaking with the quagmire prope r of the social counter-powers produced by the movement in a symmetric, purely military, relationship. This relationship was also dialectic, that is to say, dependent on the initiative of capital and the party syst em, especially in regards to spaces and times of conflict. Behind this approach, it is possible to see the difficulty of imagining a transition outside the frameworks, deformed ones, of a Leninist-Bolshevik seizu re of power. Negri looked for this transition in the exercise of collect ive effort (normative production by movements and the capacity to impose it), as well as in the deployment of inventive potential, and the poten tial of cooperating in common in the process of social transformati on. The combination of both, the exercise of power and the transformation of ways of life, liberation of production and of singularities, was presented as an insolvable puzzle. For Negri, the solution to this puzzle would come from the side of institutional dimensions that is to say, from the new forms of productive cooperation used by the so cial proletariat, oriented towards expressing the power of freedom as well as of individual and collective enjoyment, both always expansive and open. This is what Negri calls communist production. These new forms of cooperation are inseparable from the invention of a proletarian entrepreneurship, understood as the defining/determ ining of institutional creation. In this way we arrive at what we could call an antagonistic use of Schumpeters creative destruction in the realms of the self-valorization by proletarian subjects and the creation of institutions as means of selforganization of those very same processes. The operator of this institutionality is, according to Negri, negative work. The definitive defeat of the moveme nts both of the social proletariat and of the minorities of desire during the 1980s, in Italy as well as Europe in general, paralleled the processes by which social life (material production and the production of su bjectivity) was then being fully subsumed under the logic of capital, severely undermining traditional identities linked to labor. Despite that defeat, it would be difficult to refute the validity and urgency of Ne gris proposal for building, within the social, centers of alternative and independent projectuality
Towards New Political Creations 229 communities of negative labor, comple tely free and antagonistic towards the planning and programming of the reproduction of power of control. This is then the inspirat ional force of the approach towards institutional building as an element of a big tactic of reformulation of contemporary anti-systemic movement s and their political potential. No one is unaware of the complicated (in the anthropological, ethical, political sense) status of the new labor force cooperative, cognitive, relational and affective born out of the conjunction of these diverse historical processes. Some of these incommensurable processes extend from the rejection of the Fordist labor by anti-systemic movements of the 1960s to the post-Fordist restructuring of society from the early 1980s on, and even from the impulse of massive schooling before and after 1968 in Europe to the new precarious subjects whose living labor is mainly cognitive, relational and affective. These are processes whose concomitant efficiency have, not without catastrophic results, produced a hybrid and monstrous species, definitely distant from the organic framework of capitalist modernity, as well as from the emancipatory counter-models of alternative modernity, including radical liberalism or socialism. Nowadays, the identity crisis around labor mentioned above, confuses this identity with an indi viduals life/vital activity, poses a series of additional problems to the de sign of institutional restructuring. The notion of negative labor used by Negri, the self-valorization practices used by proletarian subj ects needed of a temporal, rigidly dualist, and transitional dimension for the development of communist capacities on the part of all those exploited subjects, working towards the self-determination of such subject s. In contrast to this, though, living labor today is a priori presented as multiplicity, and the deployment of common c ooperative capacities is inseparable from the process of singularization of each of its operators. However, it is precisely from this process that ne w models have emerged, new agents of enunciation consistent with other machinations and developments of knowledge, political cooperation and en unciation. Ex post facto, it is possible to draw a counter-genealog y, a diagram and program of those combinations, emphasizing their discont inuities of subjectification, of re-appropriation of cooperative nexu ses and of the creation of new political machines. This is the case with various experiences in different parts of Europe. These experiences have desired to transform their communicative, relational, formative, cr eative lives, into a political life.
Ral Snchez Cedillo 230 That is to say, a life made of an interface between singularity and commonality. This is the case of institutions such as squatted/occupied social centers; the political forms of global activism; internet use and the inverted juridical engineering of copyleft licenses and hacker cooperatives; and action-research grou ps and networks that are starting to grow within the (precarious) intersti ces of a university system in crisis and undergoing almost definitive restructuring. This is why the institutionalizati on of the movement is proposed as a means, of course. However it is a means towards self-determination, the free constitution of individual and collective subjectivity departing from a re-appropriation of the conditions of production and reproduction of the self. It should be said that this institutional revolution is inseparable from the ability to express counter-powers. This is to say, the capacity to carry out a metropolitan strike against the total productive mobilization of the populations. Is it possible to think about defeating the regime of war/exception/emergency outside of this capacity to exercise a collective and ethically regulated potential against the violence proper of the total mobilization of the metropo lis? This kind of strike is only feasible as a result of trial and error, of material processes of composition and cooperation, of mu ltilateral networking among the multiplicities that nowadays constitu te metropolitan living labor in an irreversible way. Institution as a Political-productive Machine and Existential Territory: For the Immediate Present However, the ex ante multiplicity of forms of life and figures of living labor do not directly imply an antagonistic value, nor an automatic resistance to the production of forms of life subsumed by the capitalist circuit of imitation and differentiati on. Our problem is precisely one of the consistency and resistance to th e lamination of the production of political subjectivities, as well as it s coefficients of transversality, its disposition towards an experience of metamorphosis. In order to analyze this problem adequately, we need a much richer concept of subjectivity production than those that are circulating among most political groups and movements. Th e most common concepts currently in circulation avoid contrasting th e forms of subjectivity compatible with total productive mobilization, wi th preand trans-personal terrains. Additionally, they render invisible ma ny everyday life experiences in
Towards New Political Creations 231 which impulses of freedom and tr ansformation are lived within the microphysical registers of perception, affect and the agencements of nonsignificant enunciation. These ar e experienced by each subject in his/her relations within the productive and communicative networks that constitute the material and machinic support of the so-called cooperation among brains (Lazzarato, 2006a). Flix Guattari (1995) offers a fo rmal definition of subjectivity production related to what he calls the procedure of metamodelization. This refers to a theoretical discursivity capable of reaching the maximum number of ontological descriptions or cartographies, saving the inherent pluralism of the cartographic practice. This allows us to trespass established domains and to avoid the antiproductive restrictions of legality in each of the paradigms in dispute (Guattari, 1995). For Guattari, subjectivit y is an effect of the consistence and existence of the agglomerati on of entities that we can map according to four ontological functi ons: material and semiotic flows; concrete and abstract machines that work on those flows, the embodied universes of reference and adjacent value to each agencements of subjectification; and, last but not leas t, the existential territories marked by their precarity and finitude. These are the decisive elements in contemporary subjectivity production, and this is why they are in the center of the problematics of resist ance and autonomy in new political creations. This subjectivity production, insofar as it is oriented towards rupture and battle against its captur e, control and exploitation on the part of the mechanisms of new forms of capitalism, should be up to the task of being able to navigate regi mes of signs, and capitalist semiotics. This semiotics, in which one swims and bathes, are concatenated in pragmatic montages, in straight-up capi talist agencies and institutions of enunciation. They saturate and dist ort efforts of both individual and collective singularization. We may ask ourselves now: could the institution be a privileged site or topos for the production of non -controlled subjectivity, a topos which is also able to ethically trea t that subjectivity and care for its consistency? And at the same time, would not this noti on of institution imply its permanent openness, a condition of continuous process and self-critique, subordinated to the i rruption of metamorphoses, by new agencements of enunciation and of life?
Ral Snchez Cedillo 232 Experiences of institutions in th is sense are not lacking. These experiences are intimately linked to the formation of cartographic tools of schizoanalysis and the coining of notions such as transversality and group-subject. Transversality is nowadays almost a requirement for technical use in group dynamics, in departments of human resources and so forth, although it goes wit hout saying that these are a distortion of the original concept. We can bl ame this distortion in great measure on the systemic and official dive rsion/drifting of the trend of institutional analysis, a problem of which Guattari was aware even during the same period when those not ions were being elaborated. It is interesting, then, to remind oursel ves that transversality works in groups as a dimension which is both contrary to and complementary of structures that generate pyramidal hierarchies and transmission modes that sterilize messages (Guattari, 1964). The coining of terms such as transversality and group-subject happened in the midst of a political, institutional and existential adventure that is relatively well known. However, the particularity that the institutional invention supported by bande Guattari created is not so well known. This invention inte nded to achieve the potential to politically act, think, write, interv ene, and exit those apparatuses of capture of intellectual labor and political militancy. The most relevant and foundational experience of this domain of entrepreneurship for political minorities (minor politics) and subjectification was the CERFI (Centre de tudes, recherches et formation institutionnelles). According to Franois Fourquet, one of its founding members: It was founded in 1967 in order to finance, thanks to contracts for social research, the functioning of a federal organ, the FGERI (Fdration des groupes d'tudes et de recherches institutionnelles) [...] In contrast with the paralyzed apparati of the communist party and other leftist organizations, in contrast with those activists fascinated with and fooled by the hierarchies common to those organizations , it was about forming a new race of militants able to encourage, not a party, but a network of autonomous groups that would discuss among themselves and would act together. Also, these groups would be able to recognize and affirm their unconscious desires, the denial of which was, for us, the main cause of the political paralysis of many leftist factions. (Fourquet, 1981)
Towards New Political Creations 233 Another founding member, Anne Que rrien, insists on the CERFI as an agencement of life for a small network of activist intellectuals and technicians. Today it is difficult to understand that a small group of radicals could achieve research contracts with French public ministries, with total freedom to do what they wanted. Those contracts allowed around twenty people to live, research and organize, and even to be in charge of analyzing the very uncons ciousness of the State at work with the advanced civil servan t with whom they dealt: In some way, the CERFI was about resisting our own tendency to become public employees, university members or part of a unions or political partys bureaucracy,  Our lives can be perceived as failures, but also as brief testimonies that resistance was possible.  Felixs and my own main hypothesis was that our institutional patrons were as schizophrenic as us, and that our schizoanalysis did not have to limit itself to the analysts office, to the hospital walls or the interior of our group  In this sense we were neither inside nor outside power structures, we had a schizoanalytic relationship with several people on the inside of different structures of power that at the same time had relations among themselves.  The scale of our tentatif was too small to be able to last for a long period. The global context restructured power forces and our intellectual guerrilla may have merely contributed to reinforcing some countertendencies. (Querrien, 2002) Today our challenge is to reinvent such gestures, impulses and modes of operating in the context of our current conditions. Our problem is very concrete: to transform those active mi norities of intellectual and artistic labor into operators of a perspective capable of re-launching the movement.1 Above all it is about promoting t hose modalities of experimentation within those domains mentioned earlier. Those domains are related to capture of creative capacities by new forms of networked power, market institutions of cognitive capitalism and juridical structures of labor markets. Such creative potential is also captured by those modules or molds of subjective expression and id entification inscribed within the new tendencies of the neo-liberal possessive individual, who is now creative, cooperative, owner of (fixed) capital which is itself inscribed mainly in her/himself, in his/her capacity for adaptation and discrimination among the possibilities offered by the market.
Ral Snchez Cedillo 234 Another substantive problem to be resolved, according to my view, is that of forming real networks of political research, thinking and action. These networks would not be exclusive, identity-based, nor action-ist nor campaign-ist. Ne tworks that would go beyond the banality of the new paradigm and would passionately tackle the question of their own destructive an d constitutive effectiveness. They would know how to generate and give birth to political and communicative war machines, suitable, finite and irreverent war machines. It is time then for creating an (in many senses) unknown terrain of political invention, organization and growth. It is a terrain based on the self-organization and institutionaliz ation of the collective production and processing of knowledges. We have also discussed that the very coextensivity of such dynamic in regards to the networking of precarious collective intelligence allow us to do certain things. For example, to apply our forces, to form our recombination values in a variety of metropolitan territories, such as: from universities to social centers, and from museums and cultural agencies to peripheries in which there of plenty of groups and cooperatives of educators, social workers and intercultural mediators. The ethical an d political subjectification of those spheres is a necessity and a task that is in our hands to carry out. Given that the path walked by different collectives (hackers, info-artists, independent musicians, interns/research ers, etc.) is long enough to be able to overcome astonishment we can move to putting a series of initiatives into practice to change the current tide: from the propertybased offensive towards a recombination (in a public sphere yet to be created) of the communities of inf o-production, creation, research and education. It is about putting together an aguascalientes , a caracol formed out of the cooperation among brains. In the final analysis it is about creating an instrument or way of doing things, that if not literally un ion-like, then at least one that is capable of promoting the care and gu arantee of a new set of rights and the struggles against exploitation in cognitive capitalism. This would be done on the basis of an institutiona l collective enunciator that is both polyphonic as well as autonomous with respect to the institutions of cognitive capitalism and the capitali zation of productive and aesthetic (producers of the sensitive) excess. This instrument would put into practice new prototypes of collective subjectification based on class (so to speak) capable of including within that subjectivity all the multiplicity
Towards New Political Creations 235 and heterogeneity of the new forces of contemporary living labor. This would be done from a perspectiv e and promotion of the maximum existential singularity of each of its components. More precisely, the attempt is to impose the statute on the basis of the networks of cooperation, breaking in the first place, the individualization of cooperation with such institutions, wh ich constitutes one of the primary means of vulnerability and division of collective intelligence. How? By imposing from the get go, negotiat ion and hiring/employment as a network of cooperation, finite, concrete, but open and political in its own definition. The figures of the curator, of th e intern and researcher in break speed competition in order to obtai n their project or financing, the precarious worker who is employed in termittently on crappy little jobs in museums and cultural institutions: in a few months any of these figures may come back to the same museum or institution, but this time with the status of artist or creative activist with better or different work conditions. Faced with these practices, we are trying to impose collective hiring/contracting and au tonomous management of resources on the part of the network of c ooperation and artistic-intellectualpolitical work (that, let it be underst ood, should make the effort to build itself as a new type of institution, not a union, not a party, note a creative club, but a new political machine). In second place, we are trying to make all property common: all the products of the labor of networked collective intelligence, especially of those created by members of that particular network. Daily use, the legal battles around copyleft licenses and the disputes and negotiations with operators of art and knowledge institutions over the privatization of such products are other elements of this new charter of rights under permanent drafting. We could imagine that from this ty pe of panorama of the precarization of subjectification and political orga nization of immaterial living labor in the European metropolitan regions we could see a significant swerve in favor of the monstrous return of class struggle and constitution (always multitudinous) of the commons in the coming years. Notes 1. See Vercauteren (2007), who constructs schizoanalytic theoretical tools from the practice of militant groups, based on ten years of common work and collective experience with new movements in Belgium.
23721 Mental Prototypes and Monster Institutions: Some Notes by Way of an Introduction Universidad Nmada (Translated by Nuria Rodrguez) Mental Prototypes For quite a while now, a certain portm anteau word has been circulating in the Universidad Nmadas1 discussions, in an attempt to sum up what we believe should be one of the results of the critical work carried out by the social movements and other post-socialist political actors. We talk about creating new mental protot ypes for political action. This is due to the importance, in our eyes, of the elusive and so often unsuccessful link between cognitive diagrams and processes of political subjectivation. That is, the link be tween the knowledge that allows powers and potentials to be tested, on one hand, and, on the other, the semiotic, perceptual and emotiona l mutations that lead to the politicization of our lives, become personified in our bodies, and shape the finite existential territories th at are channeled into or become available for political antagonism. We believe there is a need to create new mental prototypes because cont emporary political representations, as well as many of the institutions created by the emancipatory traditions of the twentieth century, should be subjected to a serious review at the very least given th at, in many cases, they have become part of the problem rath er than the solution. In this respect, the anniversary of the 1968 world revolution an unavoidable reference given the month in which we are writing this text shouldnt be used as an excuse to wallow in amorphous nostalgia for the passing of the age of revolutions. Just the opposite it should be used to demonstrate the extent to which some of the unsuitable signs of
Universidad Nmada 238 that world revolution are still present in a latent state, or, to be more precise, in a state of frustrated virtua lity. interests us because, even though it didnt come out of the blue, it was an unforeseeable world event a historical fork in the road that left a trail of new political creations in a great many different parts of the world. Ultimately, it motivates us because its unresolved connections and even its caricatures allow us to consider the problem of the politicization (and metamorphosis) of life as a monstrous intrusion of the unsuitable into history (the history of capitalis t modernity and postmodernity).2 Over the last forty years this laten cy has been subject to a series of quite significant emergences. The latest and perhaps most important, the one that is generationally closest to us, is the one in which the movement of movements, or the global movement, played a central role. But in spite of its extraordin ary power, it hasnt always been fruitful enough in terms of generati ng the mental prototypes that we believe are so necessary. At least, its not clear that it has been able to produce prototypes that are sophist icated, robust and complex enough to generate innovative and sustained patterns of political subjectivation and organization that make it possibl e to at least attempt a profound transformation of command structures daily life and the new modes of production.3 Weve decided to avoid a merely speculative approach, and to remain as far as possible from d eclarations of how the political forms of the movements should-be; rather, we try to present a series of experimentations not to exemplify, but more in the manner of case studies, as experiences that are being tested in practice that are currently trying to overcome the predicaments and shortfalls that weve just mentioned. The Universidad Nmada believes there is an urgent need to identify the differentiating features and the differentials of political and institutional innovation that exist in specific experimentations. Weve chosen to place the emphasis on two as pects that implicitly constitute the two transversal themes for this diverse compilation of texts, namely: (a) we give preference to metropolitan forms of political intervention, specifically looking at one of their most frequently recurring figures social centers; by this, we dont mean to lay claim to social centers as fossilized forms or political artefacts with an essentialized identity, but to try and explore the extent to which the social center form today points the way to processes of ope ning up and renewal (Kurnik and Beznec, 2008), producing, for example, innovative mechanisms for the
Mental Prototypes and Monster Institutions 239 enunciation of (and intervention in) the galaxy of the precariat; and at the same time, and partially intert wining with the above; (b) the constitution of self-education networ ks that are developing in and perhaps result from? the crisis of Europes public university system.4 Ultimately, Europe, not as a naturalized space for political intervention, but as a constituent process; the pr oduction of these mental prototypes and mechanisms of enunciation an d intervention as an instituent process (Salvini, 2008). Social Centers as Bodies Without Organs For a long time, and in many cases still today, squatted social centers ( Centros Sociales Okupados in Spanish) have used the abbreviation CSO or CSOA (the a stands for autogestionados , or self-managed) as a differentiating element in the public sphere, as a kind of semiotic marker of the radical nature of thei r project. And inevitably, some of us who participated in them were bound to notice the virtuous coincidence between this label and the Spanish for Deleuze and Guattaris body without organs, Cuerpo sin Organos or CsO, using it to try to imagine and put into practice the un-thought and un-spoken virtualities that we believe are present in the matrix of metropolitan social centers. The considerations found in the different articles in this transversal/transform dossier are headin g in that same direction, that is, they point towards the ongoing re invention of an institutional mechanism (a form of movement instit ution) that has already proven its validity and, in a certain sense, its irreversibility in terms of the politics of the subaltern subjects in the metr opolis. But this doesnt mean that the irreversible validity arises from a stable, self-referential, identical social center form that remains always the same as itself, but just the opposite, as set out in one of the collective texts included in this monograph (Carmona et al., 2008). Perhaps we could speak of the need to counteract the solidification of the social center form through th e production of unsuitable social centers, that is, projects of polit ical and subjective creation based on specific powers of different configurations of the (political, cultural and productive) make-up of the basins of metropolitan cooperation. Creations that wouldnt therefore try to seal themselves off as autarkic rather than autonomous islands, but to transform the existing context in accordance with the variable possibilities expressed by counter-powers that would then be capable of avoidi ng the dialectic of the antagonism
Universidad Nmada 240 between powers that tend towards equivalence.5 This would thus open up new, constituent dimensions in terms of spatial, temporal, perceptive, cooperative, normative and value-based aspects. Some twenty years have already gone by since squatters first made their appearance in the public sphere. From squatters to okupas to centros sociales okupados there has undeniably been progress, evolution; but the experience hasnt emerged from its neot eny stage, so to speak. There are obviously numerous reasons for this, and they may be complex enough to deserve to be fully dealt with in this dossier. In any case, this complexity should not be simplified by labeling the factors that delay its growth as negative, and those that implement the model without further critical consideration of its present condition as positive. The problem-factor of the (politics of) id entity that has characterized the social center form, with its disturbing ambivalence, is proof of this: because identity politics can be blamed for many evils and we can claim that this kind of politics has considerably contributed to the underdevelopment of the experiences and to the same errors being repeated; but if we dont take into account this aspect of identity (politics), it is difficult to explain why the great majority of relevant experiences arose in the first place and persist. Metropolis and Identity From the point of view of the production of subjectivity, the act of disobedience and direct re-appropria tion of wealth (fixed assets buildings, infrastructures, etc.) is and will probably remain fundamental in the evolution of the social cente r form (and of other things). We should keep this in mind when we c onfront a relatively recent issue that is generating endless tense disputes in the heart of the social movements: the negotiation of spa ces whether were talking about negotiating the ongoing occupation of squatted social centers through dialogue, or about approaching public bodies for new spaces to be selfmanaged. Basically, how can dis obedience and re-appropriation be reconciled with negotiation? Or, in other words: how is it possible to articulate the conflict/negotiation dialectic? The crucial problem is along these lines, and undoubtedly a substantial source of controversy. There is a permanent niche of politic al impulses which doesnt just affect the younger participants in social centers that cannot do without a predetermined way of con ceiving the act of disobedience and conflict as an element of political subjectivation and identity. The
Mental Prototypes and Monster Institutions 241 political function of social centers and identity, militancy and identity, and metropolitan commons and identity thus emerge as some of the permanent problematic nodes that end up deciding whether the experience is to make progress or be annulled. That is, whats at stake here is the possibility of producing a new type of institutionality of movement that can profit from the experience gained over two decades of social centers in Europe. In this se nse, the last thing we need is a new argument or a new program. What we need is to explicitly question the way in which we confront the sin gularization of collective existence in the productive, cooperative and relational medium of the metropolis; a singularization that always entails that normally implies complex processes of difference/identity. If we think there is a need to re-start a cycle of creative experimentation in re lation to the social center form, it is not because of a fetishistic attachment to novelty, but precisely because the forms of singularizati on that we experience in our bodies and in our own lives are currently going through a phase of transformation in our cities, and inevitably require us to respond through the practice of risk-taking forms of political re-composition. Ones immersion in the metropolis of total mobilization cant be simply a willing act. The development of aspects of political entrepreneurship as foreshadowed in the social centers production of services, aspects that are bio(syndicalist) and cooperative, based on public self-education projects and so on (Lpez, Martnez and Toret, 2008) requires that we confront the dead-end streets of endemic, selfmarginalized political experiences in th e city. But it also implies the need to clarify what we could call the supplements of subjectivation that allow languages, value universes an d collective territories to be refounded as part of a device that can continue to be subversive, particularly on the level of forms of life. This means no longer aspiring to be subversive simply in terms of a dialectic of molar confrontation between subjects that are always pr e-formed, channeling us towards a binary dynamic in the face of forces that have already been counted, with results that are already taken for granted. Governance as an Adversary Social centers geometry of hostility in the productive metropolis becomes fixed in accordance with the establishment of government figures that try and combine the pow er of centralized command with social diffusion of (metropolitan an d transnational) powers. The multi-
Universidad Nmada 242 centric scheme of capitalist powers demonstrates the crisis of party-like, representative forms of integrat ion. Governance has become its transitional mode: Thus when we speak about metropolitan governance we are alluding to a set of public practices that represent, in the face of the harmonization of irreducible and heterogeneous interests, the response to the inability of deriving decisions from an initial process of institutional legitimization. The weakening of traditional mechanisms of social regulation and the channeling of interests has in fact rendered subjectivities impervious to the practice of government. Governance, in a certain sense, constitutes the struggle to continually produce, through variable and flexible structures, subjectivities that are consonant with the administrationalization of life, where the boundaries between public and private become transient and elusive. (Atelier Occupato ESC, 2008) Governance is the device that opposes social centers, the counterpart with productions of consensus, obedi ence and exclusion that have to be dismantled, destabilized and sabotaged. The main objective of metropolitan governance consists of making the shared conditions of life productive in accordance with th e concept of the city-company; it consists of organizing the total mobilization of its inhabitants and of linguistic, emotional and financial fl ows in political and institutional terms a total mobilization that neut ralizes the political and existential valences that emerge from cooperation and from communal metropolitan life; it consists of producing a government of difference based on a constant inflation of stat utes, segmentations, regulations and restrictions that allow the subor dinate groups to be ordered hierarchically, isolated and divided. Social centers are one of the crucial operators of practical criticism of metropolitan governance (and are destined to become even more inte nsely so). The fight of the social centers against governance takes place in the field of practices of deindividualization; in the re-appropriati on of spaces that can then be used to configure political situations that transform the conflict arising from placing a heterogeneous mix of popula tion singularities up against the devices of urban income into a new motor for urban dynamics; in the production of new service relationships such as those that try out a reappropriation of the relationships invo lved in care provision, which can de-privatize and de-nationalize the processes of reproduction and valorization of life that remain confiscated by metropolitan biopower
Mental Prototypes and Monster Institutions 243 institutions; and in experimentation with ways of practicing and experiencing the time of the me tropolis in the face of the total mobilization of frightened anxious individuals. Education, Self-education and Research in Monster Institutions Ultimately, the medley of experiences th at this dossier deals with reveals unequivocal traces of the monster institutions that are necessary today in order to bring about the inevitability of new manifestations of the frustrated virtualities resulting fr om the long and unfinished sequence that followed the existential revolution of 1968: this takes us back to the beginning and closes a circular argument that considers present emergences by making the most of the virtualities of the immediate revolutionary past. Needless to say, the case studies shown here arent exhaustive and dont inflate these vi rtualities. The Universidad Nmada is interested in tacklin g the possibility of constructing these new mental prototypes linked to the desired mons trosity, to the need to think and do another, different kind of politics based on education, self-education and research. We believe there are four basic circuits to be implemented, as follows: (a) A circuit of educational projects to be developed in order to allow the circulation of theoretical paradigms and intellectual tools suitable for producing these cognitive maps that can be used to (1) intervene in the public sphere by creating swarming points of reference and producing counter-hegemonic discourses; and, in addition, to (2) analyze existing power structures and dynamics, as well as potentials; (b) A circuit of co-research projects, to be organized for the systematic study of social, economic, political and cultural life for the purpose of producing dynamic maps of social structures and dynamics that can be useful for guiding antagonist practices, redefining existing conflicts and struggles, and prod ucing new forms of expression endowed with a new principle of social and epistemological intelligibility (Malo de Malina, 2004); (c) A publishing and media circuit to be designed with the aim of influencing the public sphere, areas of intellectual production and university teaching, for the purpose of creating intellectual-analytic laboratories and, consequently, new segments of reference and
Universidad Nmada 244 criticism of hegemonic forms of knowledge and ways of conceptualizing the social situation; (d) A circuit of foundations, institutes and research centers to be devised as an autonomous infrastructure fo r the production of knowledge, which would constitute an embry onic stage for forms of political organization by means of the accu mulation of analysis and specific proposals. Its activities should link the analysis of regional and European conditions with the gl obal structural dynamics of the accumulation of capital and of the recreation of the global geostrategic options that are favora ble to the social movements. In some cases, the devices that make these tasks possible are already operating, and their manifestations ca n be found or intuited here and there, peppering the texts in the m onograph we are extending with this short introduction. To finish off: we are talking about devices that are necessarily hybrid and monstrous: hybrid because right from the start they make it necessary to create networks out of resources and initiatives that are very different and contradictory in nature, that appear strange and even seemingly incongruent among themselves; these resources and initiatives mix together public and private resour ces, institutional relations with relations of movement, non-institu tional and informal models for action with forms of representation that may be formal and representative, and struggles and forms of social existence that some would accuse of being non-political or contaminated or useless or absurd but take on a strategic aspect because they directly give a political and subjectivity-produc ing dimension to processes of allocation of resources and logistical elements that end up being crucial for bursting onto nationalized and/or privatized public spheres and transforming them; monstrous because they initially appear to be pre-political or simply non-political in form, but their acceleration and accumulation as described above must generate a density and a series of possibilities for intellectual creativity and co llective political action that will contribute to inventing another politics;
Mental Prototypes and Monster Institutions 245 another politics, that is, another way of translating the power of productive subjects into new forms of political behavior and, ultimately, into original paradigms for the organization of social life, for the dynamic structuring of the potential of that which is public and communal. Notes 1. The original document (in Spanish) presenting the Universidad Nmada is online at: http://www.universidadnomada.net/spip.php?article139. And Ral Snchez Cedillos essay in this volume has become something of a summary for the new phase of the Universidad Nmada. 2. Along these lines, see also Raunig (2008). 3. This is also what Paolo Virno (2004b ) seems to be saying, using an accurate image, when he states that in recent years the global movement was like a huge battery that had been charged in a short, vertiginous process, but couldnt find where to connect itself and discharge its power, and that it specifically couldnt manage to connect with those forms of struggle that are necessary in order to transform th e situation of precarious, temporary and atypical work into political assets. In any case, in these notes for (self)critical reflection, we continue to d eclare that the configuration process of the global movement already constitutes the inalienable genetic code of the cycle of struggles that is currently in course. 4. How can we avoid mentioning the cen trality of the university in the 1968 world revolution, how students discerne d the paradox of an institution that is in crisis in terms of its historic model, but meanwhile plays an increasingly central role in capitalist modes of production and valorisation? See, among many other recent reflections, Roggero (2007) and Atelier Occupato ESC (2008). See also two Universidad Nmada texts by Montserrat Galcern, Tiene la universidad inters para el capital? (Are universities already of interest to capital?) (http://www.universidadnomada.net/spip.php? article242) and La crisis de la universidad (The crisis of the university) (http://www. universidadnomada.net/spip.php?article184), both n/d. 5. Thus the type of asymmetry between powers and counter-powers that characterizes the movements in the new cycle of struggles that weve called another geometry of hostility. See Fernndez-Savater (2006).
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261 The Transform Project issues of transversal do you remember institutional critique? 01/2006, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0106 brumaria: Art. Radical Political Imagination Boris Buden: Criticism without Crisis: Crisis without Criticism Rosalyn Deutsche: Louise Lawlers Rude Museum Brian Holmes: Extradisciplinary Investigations: Towards a New Critique of Institutions Jens Kastner: Artistic Internationalism and Institutional Critique Nina Mntmann: The Enterprise of th e Art Institution in Late Capitalism Stefan Nowotny: Anti-Canonization: The Differential Knowledge of Institutional Critique Gerald Raunig: Instituent Practices: Fleeing, Instituting, Transforming Simon Sheikh: Notes on Institutional Critique Hito Steyerl: The Institution of Critique Stephen Zepke: Towards an Ecol ogy of Institutional Critique militant research 04/2006, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0406 Colectivo Situaciones: On the Researcher-Militant Antonella Corsani: Knowledge producti on and new forms of political action Alice Creischer/Andreas Siekmann: Steps for Fleeing from Work to Action Marcelo Expsito: Differences and Antagonims Kleines postfordistisches Drama: The Precarization of Cultural Producers and the Missing Good Life Robert Foltin: Resistance and Organization in Post-Fordism Marta Malo de Molina: Common notions, part 1: workers-inquiry, co-research, consciousness-raising Antonio Negri: Logic and Theory of Inquiry Raniero Panzieri: Socialist use of workers' inquiry
262 Javier Toret / Nicols Sguiglia: Cartography and war machine critique 08/2006, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0806 Judith Butler: What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault's Virtue Alex Demirovic: On the Re-For mation of Critical Knowledge Marina Garcs: To Embody Critique Hakan Grses: On the Topography of Critique Isabell Lorey: Critique and Category: On the limitations of political practice through recent theorems of intersectionality, interdependence and critical whiteness studies Artemy Magun: Torn between Objectivity and Utopia Gene Ray: Toward a Critical Art Theory David Riff: Criticality of Truth Irit Rogoff: From Criticism to Critique to Criticality / Smuggling An Embodied Criticality Loc Wacquant: Critical Thought as Solvent of Doxa machines and subjectivation 11/2006, http://eipcp.net/transversal/1106 Katja Diefenbach: The Spectral Form of Value: Ghost-Things and Relations of Forces Brian Holmes: The Flexible Personality: For a New Cultural Critique Maurizio Lazzarato: The Machine Isabell Lorey: Governmentality and Self -Precarization: On the Normalization of Cultural Producers Gerald Raunig: A Few Fragments on Machines Gerald Raunig: Bicycles Suely Rolnik: The Geopolitics of Pimping Simon Sheikh: Domination, Competition and Exploita tion: An Introduction to the Socialization of Capital (and How It Fails Us) Vassilis Tsianos/Dimitris Papadopoulos: Precarity: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Embodied Capitalism creativity hypes 02/2007, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0207 Brigitta Kuster/Vassilis Tsianos: Experiences Without Me or the Uncanny Grin of Precarity Maurizio Lazzarato: The Misfortunes of the Artistic Critique and of Cultural Employment Esther Leslie: Add Value to Contents: the Valorization of Culture Today
263 Isabell Lorey: Virtuosos of Freedom: On the implosion of political virtuosity and productive labor Angela McRobbie: The Los Angelization of London Stefan Nowotny: Immanent Effects: Notes on Cre-activity Marion von Osten: Unpredictable Outcomes/Unpredictable Outcasts Gerald Raunig: Creative Industries as Mass Deception Paolo Virno: Wit and Innovation progressive institutions 04/2007, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0407 Boris Buden: What is the eipcp? An Attempt at Interpretation Branka ur i : Autonomous Spaces of Deregulation and Critique: Is a Cooperation with Neoliberal Art Institutions Possible? Marcelo Expsito: Inside and Outside the Art Institution: Self-Valorization and Montage in Contemporary Art Nina Mntmann: The Rise and Fall of New Institutionalism: Perspectives on a Possible Future Paolo Virno: Anthropology an d Theory of Institutions extradisciplinaire 05/2007, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0507 Brian Holmes: The Speculative Performance: Arts Financial Futures Stefan Nowotny: The Double Meaning of Destitution Alice Pechriggl: Destituting, Instituting, Constituting ... and the De/Formative Power of Affective Investment Claire Pentecost: When Art Becomes Life: Artist-Researchers and Biotechnology Gerald Raunig: Instituent Practices, No. 2. Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting Suely Rolnik: The Bodys Contagious Memory: Lygia Clarks Return to the Museum Eyal Weizman: Walking Through Walls instituent practices 07/2007, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0707 Ctedra experimental sobre produccin de subjetividad: From Knowledge of Self-Management to the Self -Management of Knowledge Aileen Derieg: Tech Women Crashi ng Computers and Preconceptions Frank John, Efthimia Panagiotidis, Vassilis Tsianos (PRECLAB Hamburg): The Fear at Eleven Meters: On the A ttempt to Realize a Different Society
264 Jens Kastner: ... Without Becoming Hy pnotized in this Questioning Process: Conceptualizing Autonomy, Localizing Instituting? Maurizio Lazzarato: The Political Form of Coordination Marta Malo de Molina: Common Notions, Part 2: Institutional Analysis, Participatory Action-Research, Militant Research Rodrigo Nunes: Pessimism of the Intell ect, Optimism of the General Intellect? Some Remarks on Organisation Gerald Raunig: eventum et medium : Event and orgiastic representation in media activism Gigi Roggero: The Autonomy of the Living Knowledge in the MetropolisUniversity Ral Snchez Cedillo: Towards New Political Creations: Movements, Institutions, New Militancy art and police 10/2007, http://eipcp.net/transversal/1007 Franco Berardi aka Bifo: Pathologies of Hyper-Expression John Jordan: Notes Whilst Walking on H ow to Break the Heart of Empire Brigitta Kuster: Sous les yeux vigilants / Under the Watchful Eyes: On the international colonial exhibition in Paris 1931 Isabell Lorey: The Dream of the Governable City: On Plague, Policey and Raison dtat Gerald Raunig: Instituting and Dist ributing: On the Relationship Between Politics and Police Following Rancire as a Development of the Problem of Distribution with Deleuze Hito Steyerl: The Empire of Senses: Police as art and the crisis of representation Tiziana Terranova: Failure to comply: Bioart, security and the market the post-yugoslavian condition of institutional critique 02/2008, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0208 Damir Arsenijevi : Against Opportunistic Criticism Sezgin Boynik: The Principle of Secr ecy and the Difficulty of Institutional Critique in Kosovo Ljubomir Brati : On the Question of the Transformation of the Elite in Eastern Europe Boris Buden: The post-Yugoslavian Condition of Institutional Critique: An Introduction. On Critique as Countercultural Translation Ana Devi : To criticize, charge for services rendered, and be thanked Du an Grlja/Jelena Vesi Prelom kolektiv: The Neoliberal Institution of Culture and the Critique of Culturalization Marina Gr ini : Euro-Slovenian Necrocapitalism
265 Leonardo Kova evi /Vesna Vukovi : The Landscape of Post-transformation Institutions in Zagreb and their Political Impact Suzana Milevska: Internalisation of the Discourse of Institutional Critique and its Unhappy Consciousness Stevan Vukovi : Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will: Institutional Critique in Serbia and its Lack of Organic References monster institutions 05/2008, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0508 Universidad Nmada: Mental Prototyp es and Monster Institutions: Some Notes by Way of an Introduction Atelier Occupato ESC (Rome): The Metropolis and the So-Called Crisis of Politics: The Experience of Esc Pablo Carmona, Toms Herreros, Ral Snchez Cedillo, Nicols Sguiglia: Social Centres: Monsters and Political Machines for a New Generation of Movement Institutions Erika Doucette, Marty Huber: Queer-Feminist Occupations Andrej Kurnik, Barbara Beznec: Rog: Struggle in the City Stefen Nowotny, Gerlad Raunig: On Police Ghosts and Multidisciplinary Monsters Silvia Lpez, Xavier Martnez, Javier Toret: Oficinas de Derechos Sociales: Experiences of Political Enunciation an d Organisation in Times of Precarity Francesco Salvini: The Moons of Jupi ter: Networked Institutions in the Productive Transformations of Europe the art of critique 08/2008, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0808 Alexander Bikbov/Dmitry Vilens ky: On Practice and Critique Alex Demirovic: Critique and Truth: For a new mode of critique Marina Garcs: What Are We Capable Of? From Consciousness to Embodiment in Critical Thought Today Hakan Grses: Is an atopical critique possible? Maurizio Lazzarato: From Knowledge to belief, from Critique to the Production of Subjectivity Isabell Lorey: Attempt to Think the Plebeian: Exodus and Constituting as Critique Chantal Mouffe: Critique as Counter-Hegemonic Intervention Patricia Purtschert: The Refusal to Be Governed Like This: On the relationship between anger and critcism Gerald Raunig: What is Critique? Suspension and Re-Composition in Textual and Social Machines
266 Karl Reitter: Critique as a Way of Ov ercoming Quixotism: On the development of critique in Marx Ulf Wuggenig: Paradoxical Critique
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