YIANNIS ISIDOROU: WHAT ASGER JORN [UN]/TAUGHT ME – A TEXT OF 11 POSITIONS REGARDING THE MOVEMENTS AND TROPES OF THE ARTIST IN THE SYMMETRICAL(IZED) WORLD OF ECONOMY
Within the framework of my research into Asger Jorn´s writing and thinking I organize public and semi-public sessions with special guests at a variety of venues. The guest´s practice, knowledge, insights, or responses are informative to my research, or steer the direction I take on a particular topic. The sessions also often respond to the context of the hosting institution, or to a specific request. Making the sessions public is a way to share and enter into a dialogue with the audiences.
On January 8, 2016 the session ‘Asger Jorn: Thinking in Threes’ was hosted by Circuits and Currents, the Project Space of the Athens School of Fine Art. Two Athens-based artists contributed to this session. Kostis Velonis with the text ‘Alfred Jarry and Asger Jorn: the Epicurean Influence as Social ‘Swerve’ which can be found in the Pataphysics section of this blog, and Yiannis Isidorou with the performance-text below, which consists of a compilation of Jorn citations, partly shifting the original intentions as “to point out some extra risks of today”, to speak with Isidorou.
Yiannis Isidorou’s practice spans a broad range of media including photography, video, sound design and installation. He is co-founder and editor of the Greek e-magazine happyfew.gr on politics, philosophy and art. In 2004 he established Vortex Studio an independent art space and seminar center where he teaches photography and video. His latest project, another co-operation with Yiannis Grigoriadis, called “Salon De Vortex” is a thorough research on democracy, dominance and decay in the post war european society.
Modern science makes us understand the true character of the machine, of rationalization and of standardisation. All of that leads to one thing only: the economy. Economy attempts (is) the symmetricalisation of forces.
Art is to create inequalities.
It is a way of breaking with common taste but also, of reconceptualising it by means of that break, it is a strategy of redescription and re-presentation , a process of hi-jacking. Criticism and affirmation coexist. Imagination, game, awareness, contingency, subversion of the existent.
Every conscious creative act concerns itself with the boundary of self-interestedness and aims at its rapture and containment.
I remain unpredictable at every moment, create the preconditions for surprise and disturbance, I manoeuvre amidst the multitude.
The artist is a chameleon. Lives as the servant of the contingent and the infinite. Bases his cause on nothingness. Moves across the surface, to the margins or even beyond the space defined by consensus, ideology, the common view of things.
Art is not a standard of behaviour but a field of experience.
The reconfiguring of the artist is possible and it is urgent.
What is at stake is a confrontation.
Living art signifies action, it is directly connected to deciding, it negotiates negation, it sets examples and examines multiplicity. The creator’s art is diametrically situated to that of the viewer, the reader etc. Uniqueness, inspiration, scintillation are now the empty signifieds of the dominant spectatorial conception of art. They are the narratives which uphold the ideology of the spectacle. / Art values reality, it is a value investment that reaches as far as the perpetuation of the moment. It renders reality precious in sharp contrast to technique, which disdains it.
The purpose of art is to render human actions valuable, using the means which the current development of the times affords.
I loathe the stock values of the industry: “originality”, innovation, novelty and alongside those, their main instances in the 20th century – work camps, concentration camps and the atomic bomb.
Artistic experiments continue to exist, whereas an experimental field no longer does. That is being endlessly crushed between commercial pusillanimity, resentful controversy and academic hypocrisy.
More and more artists find themselves in an unprecedented impasse and are forced to beg the state for certification, become “prize pupils” and go after distinctions from opportunists the world over, presenting their wares to collectors, institutions, residencies and fairs. Forced to respond to the requirement of constant self-promotion, they regularly make fools of themselves and lose themselves in the neurotic need of acceptance by no-matter-whom.
We thus give away the most precious thing of all – our time.
There is no creative-poetic activation except opposite of society. The social human remains man’s most convincing instance. Despite that / the generality of a social life cannot exceed the tragedy of a private life. Social meaning never does supersede individual’s.
The individual’s enmeshment in the contradictions of the real and its overcoming, reappear as one of the main areas of concern of free artists. A fragmented ‘I’ and a fragmented word may only encounter one another in a way that’s exceedingly contradictory and imponderable. No progress is possible without dire consequences.
Artistic organization is impossible and irrational. Art is anarchy. It is a practice deeply antisocial and it resists organization.
The artist is anti-political. His practice refutes social organization.
It consists in the manifestation and renewal of value differences, hence is sharply at odds with the principle of equality. It attempts increments of progress by experimenting with the discreditation of the existent, without moral prejudice and without defined aims.
What the artist shares with those who are likeminded is the sentiment of rebellion which, however, is changed into a vacant stance (devoid of meaning) when (or as) it evolves into extremism. Every avaunt-guard declaration is finally an eschatology from which we ought distance ourselves, the sooner the better.
Enough already with groundbreaking practices.
The artist seeks the ties that bind the world together. In that regard, he has been abandoned to an apparently useless and futile struggle. Persistence is necessary in order to found a cause on nothingness, on the purely contingent, on the irrational, since wordly forces require a spiritual justification of their power. The ideal of the State.
The activity of the artist in relation to that coercion is the activity of the dexterous burglar-saboteur. He gains an overview of the area, assesses the risk, secures an escape route, works fast, minimizes the duration, blows everything up.
Art is what is discontinuous within the continuity of the world’s narrative. It is an ensemble of incisions and methods whose horizon is the autonomy and freedom of the individual and whose field of development is social becoming.
It is proof of the individual capacity for free action and simultaneously the main means of increasing public nervousness and releasing man’s available energy tensions. Tolerance is the one thing not tolerated in the artistic field.
The construction and projection of a theory of the restrictions, rules, principles or causes for which I create, in short, a narrative of the process of the artistic work, has a soporific effect and, in any case, it lapses into a didactic subterfuge, an educational obstacle on the way to autonomy, to the understanding of social requirements and possibilities of the times. Every promotion of the process ends in pathetic introductions and afterwords.
Availability is the precondition of self-ordained creative activity. Those who have everything to gain and nothing to lose are the artists who are today virtually the only group in the population who retain their total availability unaffected. Several ruses have been enlisted to rescind that availability the outcome is that, even if “artistic production” keeps up, it is void of artistic value.
For the artists who have preserved their free availability and creative capacity, life becomes increasingly dire. One might speak of homelessness. Whoever today chooses or answers the call of free creation, must be prepared in advance for relentless persecution, malignment, pressure and, in the event these do not have the desired effect, lawsuits.
We do not pick our time even if we transform it.
Europe’s cultural production is strictly separated from its society and functions as a central propaganda machine of reality reversal. It is an obscurantism claiming to be an enlightenment. Academia as a movement remains a staunch enemy of art and of the artist. We do not oppose the schools of craft production nor the Fine Arts academies. They are not our concern.
The free artist is a professional amateur. The spirit of amateurism does not signify one is a complete autodidact but, rather, the capacity to overcome one’s knowledge in favor of a new innocence, a new zero starting point or a sense of utter ignorance. Art never provides values but consists in the power necessary to affect and release the ones existing. That is to say, it is a destroyer of human quality and integrity and it is this destruction of perfect integrity that is experienced as beauty. The secret of art consists in the simple fact that it is more beatific to give than to receive but this beatitude hinges on a voluntary offer, on the sense that the offering is considered to be surplus, an abundance and is not motivated by a sense of duty. Art destroys, subverts, liberates.
Oblivion remains our foremost passion.
Only changes attract people’s attention. Creating changes is what is called a game or a variation. To establish a field that operates on the principle of necessity is to annul the possibility of a game or of variations within it.
The game may be considered the foundation of what we call fine arts and this is due to the attraction exercised by the risks to which we are exposed in the course of the game, an attraction requiring an optimal concentration of skill to attain optimal performance.
Only through high stakes may optimal performances derive.
Loneliness is lying in wait for the artist.
During the game, during the concentration of individual skills there are many dangers. The “game” is a closed off narrative.
By contrast to the vastness of the real, it starts, it ends, it has rules.
Life goes on.