The Marx TrendMatrix

» Intellectual Trends Digest
By Egle Obcarskaite, Timothy Murray and Tobey Albright

Boris Groys talks at ICA ; Monday 21st June, 6.45pm ; Tickets £12 ; With the collapse of neoliberalism, the idea of communism has made a surprise return to the table. Thinkers such as SlavojŽek, Toni Negri and Alain Badiou, have argued that communism, a society based on equality, is now proved to be the only alternative to the chaos of capitalism.

Seeking former teachers of Marxism. Did you teach Marxist-Leninist philosophy at school or university before 1989? How did your life and career change as a result of perestroika? Did you have to give up your profession forever? Find a new subject to teach? Or find a new career?
Actually, I’m working on a project about former Marxist teachers, people who taught Marxism or socialist philosophy in schools in East Germany and Russia. I would like to bring them to Manchester to teach Marxism in schools there. / ŽIŽEK AND BADIOU sind auch dabei / SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART / Quoting article by Claire Bishop “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents” — it still finds its successful way to the centre of discussions engaged discussions. It caused reaction, and it is still present.
All goods must have an exchange value, as we know from Marxist theories, and by entering into an exchange, goods take on a social function. The same is true for the relational artwork.

6TH BERLIN BIENNALE — takes its stand on art economy. Who said it was not marx-topian?/ TRENDY ART PIECE — Jan Peter Hammer “The Anarchist Banker” 2010 / TRENDY ART PIECE — Mark Boulos “All that is solid melts into air” 2008
Asta Groting @ Neue Berliner Kunstverein
Terms from Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1984) have been etched into the exhibition space’s black glass façade. They represent various indicators of the life-styles of workers, businessmen, and teachers.
/ And, of course, the conference took place. Three days ticket — 57 EUR. From June 25 to June 27, 2010 the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz hosts an interdisciplinary congress called “The Idea of Communism. Philosophy and Art”. / The history of utopian literature is very nearly the history of civilization.
Let us remember Joseph Beuys’ well-known maxim: “Everybody is an artist.” This maxim has a long tradition, going back to early Marxism and the Russian avant-garde, and is therefore almost always characterized today—and was already characterized in Beuys’ time—as utopian. This maxim is usually understood as an expression of a utopian hope that, in the future, the mankind that currently consists predominantly of non-artists becomes a mankind consisting of artists. Not only can we now agree that such a hope is implausible, but I would never suggest that it is utopian if the figure of the artist is defined this way. A vision of the world completely turned into the art world, in which every human being has to produce artworks and compete for the chance to exhibit them at this or that biennial, is by no means a utopian vision, but quite dystopian—in fact, a complete nightmare.
One repeatedly hears and reads that we need change, that our goal—also in art—should be to change the status quo. But change is our status quo. Permanent change is our only reality. And in the prison of permanent change, to change the status quo would be to change the change—to escape the change. In fact, every utopia is nothing other than an escape from this change.
America was Utopia realized: hyperreality on a cosmic scale.
“radically democratic future” / attach this to anything and it will work / In welcher Weise stehen Sound, Klang, Geräusch in einem Verhältnis zum utopischen Moment von Kunstwerken oder künstlerischen Interventionen? / Jan Verwoert says that Derrida says that Marx is the mother ghost and she says stealing is okay. Specters of Marx (1994)./ Don’t forget, reading these legwork articles is free of cost and it’s obviously got something to do with our combined capitalist surplus. But is Irit Rogoff’s following sentiment true for legwork too? “The question is whether this model of a “free” economy is relevant to my proposal for a free “academy,” given that in an economic model the actual thing in circulation is not subject to much attention except as it appeals to a large public and their ostensible needs.”/ In case you didn’t know, you can join the Marx Mailing List. / Can art kick work’s ass? The final match will take place in a kiddie pool full of jell-o, while a dramatization of the infamous court case between James Abbott McNeill Whistler and John Ruskin takes place beside the pool./ The Christian Science Reader points out that Tino Seghal was a student of economics and former dancer and choreographer, and that he thinks the developed world has too much stuff. Seghal also used his own version of a TrendMatrix, as his performers in his piece at the Guggenheim asked ‘participants’ what they thought about quotes from great thinkers such as Marx./ Utopia Is Gay/ “Art history was almost the last of the disciplines to re-evaluate its procedures. Art historians remained blinkered to the pivotal changes of the 1960s — such as the civil rights and women’s movements, gay rights and the declarations by the former colonies of their independence. Ironically, perhaps, even historians in thrall to varying degrees of theoretical Marxism resolutely failed to acknowledge the artistic contribution of groups identified as ‘other’. As the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous feminist collective, have pointed out, even Pliny the Elder, Boccacio and Vasari acknowledged more women artists than ever did Meyer Schapiro or T.J. Clark, two of the major twentieth-century Marxist art historians.”/ “Marxism permeated the new writing’s seminal works: T.J.Clark’s Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 revolution (1973) and The Absolute Bourgeois: artists and politics in France 1848-1851 (1973) altered the terms under which art history would be written.”/ Clark: Image of the People: Social History of Art. “It is easier to define what methods to avoid than propose a set of methods for systematic use. I am not interested in the notion of works of art ‘reflecting’ ideologies, social relations or history. Equally, I do not wanna talk about history as ‘background’ to the work of art. …. I want also to reject the idea that the artist’s point of reference as a social being is, a priori, the artistic community. ….. Lastly, I do not want the social history of art to depend on intuitive analogies between form and content…. that the lack of firm compositional focus in Courbet’s Burial at Oranus is an expression of the painter’s egalitarianism, or that Manet’s fragmented composition in the extra-ordinary View of Paris World’s Fair (1867) is a visual equivalent of human alienation in industrial society. / Marxism/post-Marxism
Since 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Marxism as as a political discourse, so characteristic of art-historical studies in the 1960s and 1970s, has been less influential. Its totalising tendencies have rendered it ill equipped to deal with the fragmented, pluralistic and heterogeneous 1990s. Nonetheless, some of the central tenets of Marxist art history — for instance that art does not possess any intrinsic, immutable values and that art is, to a greater or lesser degree, contingent upon social, economic and political conditions — have become enshrined in most art-historical discourses.

We want to start by detaching the textual formulation of the call for participation in Phil Collins’ project, as well as in artists’ statements on it, from the real content to which it is attached. We are inspired to use this textual articulation as a catalyst in mapping some tendencies in the contemporary cosmos of artistic practices, insofar they may or may not be fueled by the influence of Marxist discourse. At the core of this articulation we see the term ‘teacher’ and the image of the ‘turning point.’ Not theoretical, not philosophical, not contemplative, but very down to earth. And very material/body conscious in this way. That’s what it is–the mythical Marx figure plays the role of the life teacher, where the fact of the matter is that we as articulators of cultural discourse merely conflate (with great satisfaction, but with, damn us for this, no exteriority) the concepts and notions of the linguistic cosmos once introduced by this by now textual figure. And we love the ‘turning point’ here: everyday living-in-the-world makes no drama of it; it simply requires to scan the classifieds for jobs. What will scholars’ discourse be when the wall falls down? Probably inventing a post-relational aesthetics.

We are continuously trying to escape explicit articulations, but there they are. And stating the trend of Marx in the cosmos of contemporary textual/visual discourse requires some articulated examples. However, we wonder how to avoid reduction to mere illustrations of the notion that we here deliberately appropriate. It’s great. What has already happened here is its settling within mainstream academic textbooks (distributed in thousands and thousands of copies), which basically institutionalizes and objectifies it. Explanation is not important anymore. What really counts is its presence.

We realize the ambiguity and to some extent pretense of putting the figure of Marx in the center of this intellectual trend matrix, but we are very fond of/count on the potential of this move to generate irony. This map is therefore utopian in the purest sense of the term–a place that exists solely through negativity, no place. And time, which exists only through its not coming.