51 Resistance and creation

Zehar #51

51 Resistance and creation

"Integrated world capitalism", in combination with technoscience, means a profound change of the forms of human existence. If politics is understood as the exercise of the polemic regarding the configurations of life in society, their new contours and the new rules that uphold them, and if art is understood as the exercise of searching out and bringing into presence the ongoing mutations of sensations – an exercise pointing toward the creation of new configurations of existence – then it is to be expected that politics, art and the interfaces between them should be in crisis. Grasping the new problems found therein and inventing new strategies to confront them is an urgent necessity.

The task, however, has nothing to do with reconfiguring spheres or renegotiating borders. The very order that is organised into spheres according to a logic of identity is completely destabilised, if not totally obsolete, creating a favourable environment for politics and art to be revealed as powers of human life: respectively, the powers of resistance and of invention. Capitalism has hastened this revelation by releasing the force of creation from the ghetto of art as an autonomous sphere; not only summoning it up throughout the social body, but also celebrating it and making it the primary source of value.

The fall of the walls that confined the force of invention is welcome, and even more welcome is the celebration of this force, which frees invention of the curse that hung over it; yet at the same time, the widespread dissemination of this inventive force is accompanied by a dissociation of subjectivity from the sensations that summoned it up. And this has serious implications for human life. If a block of sensations is the living presence in the body of the forces of the world's otherness, seeking to gain form and precipitating the break-up of the current forms of existence, then access to sensations is essential in order to invent forms through which life can continue flowing. On the side of creative power, this access is what indicates the pathway to be taken by that which will be created, so as to give consistency to the emancipation process. On the side of the power of resistance, the access to sensation is also what indicates the configurations of the world for which one must fight. Obstructing the access interrupts the process and causes a divorce between the power of creation and the power of resistance, whose destiny in relation to their aim, the preservation of life, becomes blind. The result is that the exercise of these powers jeopardises rather than promotes the expansion of life.

The destiny of the power of creation dissociated from access to sensations and separated from political affect is to form a wellspring of free invention power – freedom here meaning that the creative power becomes fully available for use by the market, or in other words, for exploitation by capital, its pimp, which extracts surplus value from it, without meeting any resistance.

As for the destiny of the power of resistance, its dissociation from sensation prevents it from recognizing that which summons it up: the cruelty of life itself, which shatters forms of existence whenever necessary. Thus, unable to identify the cause of its unease, subjectivity is overcome by fear and abandonment and seeks release by projecting the cruelty of life onto the other, confusing it with evil. The force of resistance is then captured by the dialectical form and is exercised as a conflict between opposites, each one claiming the power of good for itself and setting the other in the place of evil, against which the force of resistance should be used. In this type of exercise of politics, which becomes a battle between good and evil, the result will always be the same no matter which one wins: the triumph of the force of conservatism which is itself the result of the fear of cruelty; the defeat of life whose flow is stalled, if not completely and irreversibly severed by extermination, for the sake of a configuration of a world held as truth and therefore to be conserved. This is the world of consensus: a fusional world without otherness, without resistance, without creation – without life, in short – reaching its paroxysm in a totalitarian order, be it of State or Market.

What strategies of subjectivation might "cure us" of these two disastrous dissociations: between the forces of resistance and of creation, on the one hand, and between those two forces and the very sensations which summon them up, on the other? What problems does this twin dissociation pose for artistic and political practices? What strategies are being used to confront these problems, and how effective are they? More broadly, to what extent are the political and the artistic affects coming together again within different social practices? Finally, what other questions are being posed today in art, in politics and in the interfaces between them?

Finding directions for answering these questions is a task that cannot be performed by any single individual. Such an undertaking depends on the accumulation of infinitesimal experiments throughout the weave of collective life. The intention of this issue of Zehar is to participate in this work.


—Suely Rolnik

zehar51.pdf — PDF document, 2995Kb


Work in Progress, Work in Transit. Interview with Catherine David. Miren Eraso

This conversation took place in Barcelona on 15 September, when the Fundaçió Antoni Tàpies was setting up “Contemporary Arab Representations, Cairo”. Catherine David analyses some of the keys to production and communication in her projects in the Work in Transition programme; spaces of action and visibility, dynamic interventions, consolidation of platforms, specific speeds and scale, and flexible and mobile platforms.

Davidi.pdf — PDF document, 21Kb


The new, horror and art. Laymert García Dos Santos

In 1979, the poet and playwright Heiner Müller ended his guest speech to a debate in New York on postmodernism by saying: “Fear is the first image of hope, horror the first image of the new”.

DoSantosi.pdf — PDF document, 22Kb


Intermittent Revolutions. Brian Holmes

What is the best approach to artistic practice in the capitalist societies of the twenty-first century? The author feels that we need to combine artistic autonomy and political solidarity, turning radical artistic experience into a shared experience, and it is here that art becomes passionately attractive.

Holmesi.pdf — PDF document, 47Kb


Creation Quits Its Pimp, To Rejoin Resistance. Suely Rolnik

Through which strategies are artistic practices carrying out their critical function in the current moment? How are they promoting the reconnection of the powers of creation and resistance, of the aesthetic and political affects?

Rolniki.pdf — PDF document, 59Kb


On Politics, Poetics and Agencies: interview with Manolo Borja. Carme Ortiz

In the next text, Manolo Borja addresses some of the ideas he discussed in an interview in Barcelona last June: changes in present-day capitalist societies, the new dynamics of participation by civil society, and the re-invention of the structures of mediation.

Ortizi.pdf — PDF document, 24Kb


The Present Postponed. Tony Chakar

The author seeks to expose what really lies behind the widely-used expression "the Arab world" and reveals some of the misunderstandings regarding the formation of modernity in the Orient, and thus offers instruments for understanding the present. Is art capable —she wonders— of throwing the systems defined by the East/ West dichotomies into crisis?

Chakari.pdf — PDF document, 94Kb


Crisis art: Art Crisis. Gabriela Massuh

When the 49th Venice Biennale issued an invitation to the Grupo de Arte Callejero (an action group which had never set foot inside a museum or gallery before), a discussion was sparked in Argentina on the dimensions of political art. The author chronicles the stance taken by the visual arts in recent years, during the greatest economic crisis in Argentina's history, and analyses the relationship that has been established between art, politics and the media.

Massuhi.pdf — PDF document, 23Kb



enred.pdf — PDF document, 1738Kb
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