Friday, June 25, 2010


Jean-Jacques Feuchere
Satan, circa 1836

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Angels Of The Love Affair

"Angels of the love affair, do you know that other,
the dark one, that other me?"


Angel of fire and genitals, do you know slime,
that green mama who first forced me to sing,
who put me first in the latrine, that pantomime
of brown where I was beggar and she was king?
I said, "The devil is down that festering hole."
Then he bit me in the buttocks and took over my soul.
Fire woman, you of the ancient flame, you
of the Bunsen burner, you of the candle,
you of the blast furnace, you of the barbecue,
you of the fierce solar energy, Mademoiselle,
take some ice, take come snow, take a month of rain
and you would gutter in the dark, cracking up your brain.

Mother of fire, let me stand at your devouring gate
as the sun dies in your arms and you loosen it's terrible weight.


Angel of clean sheets, do you know bedbugs?
Once in the madhouse they came like specks of cinnamon
as I lay in a choral cave of drugs,
as old as a dog, as quiet as a skeleton.
Little bits of dried blood. One hundred marks
upon the sheet. One hundred kisses in the dark.
White sheets smelling of soap and Clorox
have nothing to do with this night of soil,
nothing to do with barred windows and multiple locks
and all the webbing in the bed, the ultimate recoil.
I have slept in silk and in red and in black.
I have slept on sand and, on fall night, a haystack.

I have known a crib. I have known the tuck-in of a child
but inside my hair waits the night I was defiled.


Angel of flight and sleigh bells, do you know paralysis,
that ether house where your arms and legs are cement?
You are as still as a yardstick. You have a doll's kiss.
The brain whirls in a fit. The brain is not evident.
I have gone to that same place without a germ or a stroke.
A little solo act--that lady with the brain that broke.

In this fashion I have become a tree.
I have become a vase you can pick up or drop at will,
inanimate at last. What unusual luck! My body
passively resisting. Part of the leftovers. Part of the kill.
Angels of flight, you soarer, you flapper, you floater,
you gull that grows out of my back in the dreams I prefer,

stay near. But give me the totem. Give me the shut eye
where I stand in stone shoes as the world's bicycle goes by.


Angel of hope and calendars, do you know despair?
That hole I crawl into with a box of Kleenex,
that hole where the fire woman is tied to her chair,
that hole where leather men are wringing their necks,
where the sea has turned into a pond of urine.
There is no place to wash and no marine beings to stir in.

In this hole your mother is crying out each day.
Your father is eating cake and digging her grave.
In this hole your baby is strangling. Your mouth is clay.
Your eyes are made of glass. They break. You are not brave.
You are alone like a dog in a kennel. Your hands
break out in boils. Your arms are cut and bound by bands

of wire. Your voice is out there. Your voice is strange.
There are no prayers here. Here there is no change.


Angle of blizzards and blackouts, do you know raspberries,
those rubies that sat in the gree of my grandfather's garden?
You of the snow tires, you of the sugary wings, you freeze
me out. Leet me crawl through the patch. Let me be ten.
Let me pick those sweet kisses, thief that I was,
as the sea on my left slapped its applause.

Only my grandfather was allowed there. Or the maid
who came with a scullery pan to pick for breakfast.
She of the rolls that floated in the air, she of the inlaid
woodwork all greasy with lemon, she of the feather and dust,
not I. Nonetheless I came sneaking across the salt lawn
in bare feet and jumping-jack pajamas in the spongy dawn.

Oh Angel of the blizzard and blackout, Madam white face,
take me back to that red mouth, that July 21st place.


Angel of beach houses and picnics, do you know solitaire?
Fifty-two reds and blacks and only myself to blame.
My blood buzzes like a hornet's nest. I sit in a kitchen chair
at a table set for one. The silverware is the same
and the glass and the sugar bowl. I hear my lungs fill and expel
as in an operation. But I have no one left to tell.

Once I was a couple. I was my own king and queen
with cheese and bread and rosé on the rocks of Rockport.
Once I sunbathed in the buff, all brown and lean,
watching the toy sloops go by, holding court
for busloads of tourists. Once I called breakfast the sexiest
meal of the day. Once I invited arrest

at the peace march in Washington. Once I was young and bold
and left hundreds of unmatched people out in the cold.

Anne Sexton

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Museum Revisited

Ines Doujak, Sin título, 2002, color photograph. From “How Do We Want to Be Governed?”

IT IS BY PUTTING THE MUSEUM in the context of radical democratic politics that I wish to address the question of its role today, considering in particular ways in which art institutions could foment new subjectivities critical of neoliberal consensus. More generally, I want to take issue with the negative way public institutions are perceived by the mode of radical critique fashionable today: Celebrating “desertion” and “exodus,” to use the terminology of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri—whose writing recently appeared in these pages—such critique asserts that political action should withdraw from existing institutions so that we might free ourselves from all forms of belonging. Institutional attachments are presented here as obstacles to new, nonrepresentative forms of “absolute democracy” suitable for the self-organization of the multitude. Yet such an approach forecloses any immanent critique of institutions—critique with the objective of transforming institutions into a terrain of contestation of the hegemonic order. Instead, all institutions are perceived as monolithic representatives of forces to be destroyed, every attempt to transform them dismissed as reformist illusion. The very possibility of disarticulating their constitutive elements, with the aim of establishing a different power configuration, is precisely what is rejected by the exodus approach.

In the artistic and cultural domain, this perspective suggests that critical artistic practices can have efficacy only if they take place outside cultural institutions. To imagine that museums, for instance, could provide sites for critical political intervention today is, according to such a view, to be blind to the manifold of forces—economic and political—that make their very existence possible. The strategy, here again, is to ignore them and occupy other spaces, outside the institutional field. But endorsing this course of action is, in my view, profoundly mistaken and clearly disempowering, because it impedes us from recognizing the multiplicity of avenues that would otherwise be open for political engagement. Indeed, it is to ignore the tensions that always exist within a given configuration of forces and the possibility of subverting their form of articulation. By contrast, I am convinced that fostering a strategy of “engagement with institutions” is absolutely crucial for envisioning democratic politics today. We must acknowledge that what is called “the social” is the realm of sedimented political practices—practices that conceal the originary acts of their contingent political institution—but recognize as well that such moments of political institution can always be reactivated. Every order is predicated on the exclusion of other possibilities, but as the temporary and precarious articulation of contingent practices, each order is always the expression of a particular structure of power relations. Things could have been otherwise. And so every hegemonic order is susceptible to being challenged.

The success of counterhegemonic practices depends on an adequate understanding of the relations of forces structuring the key institutions in which the political antagonist is going to intervene. With respect to artistic and cultural practices, then, counterhegemonic interventions must first and foremost recognize the role of the culture industry in capitalism’s transition to post-Fordism. To mention just a few familiar yet central features of the current dispensation: the blurring of the lines between art and advertising, the exponential development of “creative industries” dominated by the media and entertainment corporations, and the reduction of cultural institutions into entertainment centers—all these can only be understood in the context of the post-Fordist stage of capitalism. Today’s capitalism relies increasingly on semiotic techniques to create the modes of subjectification necessary for its reproduction, and cultural production plays a central role in the process of valorizing capital. The old forms of exploitation, characteristic of the times when manual labor was dominant, have been replaced by new ones that call for the incessant creation of needs and insatiable desires for the acquisition of goods. They rely on the joint forces of advertising and the “creative industries” for producing fantasy worlds through which the identity of the consumer is constructed. To buy something today is to gain entrance into a specific world, to identify with a certain culture, to become part of an imagined community. To maintain its hegemony, the neoliberal system needs to permanently mobilize people’s desires and shape their identities, and the cultural terrain, with its various institutions, occupies a strategic place in this absolutely vital process of commodification and subjectification. To challenge this system, a counterhegemonic politics must engage this terrain and target the forms of identification that are the conditions for the reproduction of post-Fordist capitalism. Thus, the museum—far from being an institution to be deserted posthaste—becomes a crucial site of political contestation.

How to visualize the future of the museum within such a framework? Could the institution contribute to undermining the imaginary environment of the consumer society? To be sure, the history of the museum has been linked since its beginning to the construction of bourgeois hegemony, but in my view this function can be altered. As Wittgenstein has taught us, signification is always dependent on context, and use determines meaning. This is also true for institutions, and we should discard the essentialist idea that some institutions are destined to fulfill one immutable function. In fact, we have already witnessed how, following the neoliberal trend, many museums have abandoned their original purpose of educating citizens into the dominant culture and have instead transformed themselves into sites of entertainment for a public of consumers. The main objective of those “postmodern” museums is to make money through blockbuster exhibitions and the sale of merchandise to tourists. The type of “participation” they promote is based on consumerism, and they actively contribute to the commercialization and depoliticization of the cultural field.

However, this neoliberal turn is not the only possible form of evolution open to the museum; another path can be envisaged, leading in a progressive direction. There may have been a time when it would have made sense to abandon the museum in order to nurture the development of novel artistic practices. But under present conditions, with the art world almost totally colonized by the market, the museum could become—indeed is uniquely positioned to become—a sanctuary from commercial interests. As several theorists have pointed out, the museum, which has been stripped of its normative role, might now be seen as a privileged place for artworks to be presented in a context that allows them to be distinguished from commodities. Visualized in such a way, the museum would offer spaces for resisting the effects of the growing commercialization of art.¹

To rethink the function of the museum along those lines would be a first step toward envisaging the institution as a possible site for countering the dictatorship of the global media market. It is interesting to note that such a move dovetails with other attempts to reclaim public institutions targeted by neoliberalism in recent years. Think, for instance, of the change of attitude of a part of the European Left with respect to the institutions of the welfare state, whose bureaucratic nature they used to criticize. This was no doubt a justified critique, but in the wake of the dismantling of these institutions by neoliberal governments, many people have begun to realize that they also constituted important forms of protection against market forces, and that their privatization has not represented a democratic advance. Similar considerations could be made with respect to the role of the state, which, after years of being demonized, has recently been reevaluated. The conclusion to draw from this new perception of the nature of public institutions is that, instead of celebrating the destruction of all institutions as a move toward liberation, the task for radical politics is to engage with them, developing their progressive potential and converting them into sites of opposition to the neoliberal market hegemony.

As far as museums are concerned, already one can point to several successful examples of this strategy of “engagement with” that I am proposing. One of the best known is the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, which, under the direction of Manuel Borja-Villel (who now heads the Reina Sofía in Madrid), succeeded in creating a new model of museum.² Between 2000 and 2008, MACBA launched various projects informed by critical pedagogy to recover the educational role of the museum and to reestablish the institution as a constituent part of the public sphere. With the aim of proposing an alternative reading of modern art, MACBA began developing a collection and organizing exhibitions privileging artists and art scenes typically neglected by the dominant discourse on artistic modernity. Among the many notable shows the museum mounted during this period were “Philippe Thomas: Readymades Belong to Everyone” (2000); “Art and Utopia: Restricted Action” (2004); “A Theatre Without Theatre” (2007); and “Be-Bomb: The Transatlantic War of Images and All That Jazz. 1946–1956” (2007–2008). Another of MACBA’s objectives was to establish a vibrant relationship between the museum and the city and to provide a space for debate and conflict. Looking for ways in which art could make a significant contribution to the multiplication of public spheres, MACBA encouraged contact between different social movements. For example, “Of Direct Action Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” a series of workshops organized in 2000 (and coordinated by Jordi Claramonte), brought together artists’ collectives and social movements to explore possibilities for connecting local political struggles with artistic practices. Workshops were organized around topics such as precarious labor, borders and migrations, gentrification, new media, and emancipatory strategies. A further example of collaboration with the new social movements was the “How Do We Want to Be Governed?” project, which was conceived as a countermodel to the Universal Forum of Cultures launched by the city council of Barcelona in 2004. While taking culture as an alibi, the real objective of the government forum, critics argued, was to promote a major urban renewal project planned for the city’s seafront—to pave the way, in other words, for a massive real estate deal. Organized by Roger M. Buergel (then a curator at MACBA), “How Do We Want to Be Governed?” presented a series of exhibitions and public programs—talks, colloquia, screenings, performances, and debates—in venues within the industrial zones and working-class neighborhoods scheduled for demolition or radical reconfiguration. It was an exhibition in process, combining artistic work and social dynamics and providing a platform for various neighborhood movements.

The program at MACBA since the turn of the millennium represents a radical alternative to both the modern and the postmodern museum, but many other types of initiatives are worth mentioning. Of particular interest in this regard is the recently established consortium L’Internationale, a long-term collaboration among five progressive European art institutions—the Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, Slovenia; the Július Koller Society in Bratislava, Slovakia; MACBA; the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MUHKA) in Belgium—seeking to collectively use their collections and archives to challenge art-historical master narratives and to construct multiple alternative, transnational narratives. L’Internationale’s proposed network is only now in its first stages, and needs to be enriched by partners outside Europe, but it suggests a promising way for art institutions to join together in the ongoing struggle against the hegemonic discourse.

What is really at stake in this debate about ways to deal with institutions such as the museum is the political and its relation with artistic practices. The modernist view, which postulates a structural affinity between the political and the artistic avant-garde, needs to be relinquished. Its claim that the radical move consists in destruction and radical negation of tradition and that it requires exit from all institutions, political as well as artistic, is not suitable for the task facing radical politics today. As Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello persuasively demonstrated in The New Spirit of Capitalism (1999/2005), the managerial class successfully co-opted the various demands for autonomy of social movements that arose in the 1960s, harnessing them only to secure the conditions required by the new, postindustrial mode of capitalist regulation. Capital was able, they showed, to neutralize the subversive potential of the aesthetic strategies and ethos of the counterculture—the search for authenticity, the ideal of self-management, and the antihierarchical imperative—transforming them from instruments of liberation into new forms of control that would ultimately replace the disciplinary framework of the Fordist period. To this hegemonic move by capital, it is urgent to oppose a counterhegemonic one, which opposes the program of total social mobilization of capitalism. Instead of deserting public institutions, we must find ways to use them to foster political forms of identification and make existing conflicts productive. By staging a confrontation between conflicting positions, museums and art institutions could make a decisive contribution to the proliferation of new public spaces open to agonistic forms of participation where radical democratic alternatives to neoliberalism could, once again, be imagined and cultivated.

Text by Chantal Mouffe
Professor of Political Theory, University of Westminster


1. See, e.g., Boris Groys, “The Logic of Equal Aesthetic Rights” in his Art Power (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), pp. 13–22.

2. An excellent overview of the activities of MACBA during those years is found in Jorge Ribalta, “Experiments in a New Institutionality,” in Relational Objects, MACBA Collections 2002–2007 (Barcelona: MACBA Publications, 2010).

Source: Art Forum Magazine, Summer 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Las Vegas Studio: Images From the Archive of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

Studies of Billboards, Office of Venturi and Rauch Architects, Philadelphia,1968

Fremont Street, Las Vegas, 1968

Stardust Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 1968

Las Vegas strip,1966

In 1968, American architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, together with students from Yale University, made the city of Las Vegas the object of their study. Their findings, published in the 1972 book, Learning from Las Vegas, are legendary, extending the categories of the ordinary, the ugly, and the social into architecture. Offering great insight into the creation of this groundbreaking publication, Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown presents original research materials from the archives of Venturi Scott Brown Associates, including over 80 photographs and a selection of films shot during the authors' research that were a crucial aspect of their architectural study. Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is curated by Martino Stierli and Hilar Stadler in collaboration with artist Peter Fischli. MOCA's presentation, organized by MOCA Curator Philipp Kaiser, follows presentations at Museum im Bellpark, Kriens, Switzerland; Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, Germany; and Yale School of Architecture, Connecticut.

Las Vegas Studio: Images From the Archive of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is organized by The Museum im Bellpark, Kriens.
03.21.10 - 06.20.10
MOCA Pacific Design Center

"How one Can Think Freely in the Shadow of a Temple" Pop Up Catalog

"How one Can Think Freely in the Shadow of a Temple"
Pop Up Catalog by Kunstverein in Hamburg, Editor :Florian Waldvogel, Graphic Design: Christoph Steineggerl, Interkool. Hamburg, 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marcel Broodthaers - Interview With A Cat

Ceci est une interview recueillie au Musée d'Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, 12 Burgplatz, Düsseldorf, 1970

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial to Collective Utopia

Memorial to Collective Utopia,2010
141 x 80 x 54 cm
Wood, acrylic, watercolor

For When We May Merely Speak.Hey Love

I Suppose I do believe in nothing, except we are briefly here and beauty does occur for us. I’ll try as an answer a little while, though I also hope for desire and its coming in clearly, and fulfillment, a collection of cells, geology and weather, desire actual as weather. Everything is going soon, so what if I walk like a fisherman. I’ve walked like an ocean, too, like an oar. It converts one into a belief which is shaking. Everything permeated, permanent. Nothing really ends or stays, you know. Though there will be a time when we may merely speak, as breath admits, as the admissions of breath, so what if this season euphoria comes, the mood equivalent to wet dreams, in the oddest hours of one’s living through.

Zach Savich, 2010.


Nikolai Suetin, Scarecrow, 1929
Watercolor, ink, pencil on paper, 48.4x38.6 cm.
Private collection, St. Petersburg.

My Mistake

The ICA is proud to present the first solo exhibition in a British public gallery of Oscar Tuazon, a US-born, Paris-based artist, writer and curator. Tuazon's artwork is largely sculptural in nature, taking on a formal language situated between architecture, Minimalist art and an aesthetic peculiar to the utilitarian constructions of outsider communities. Comprised of a combination of natural and industrial materials, Tuazon's structures create tension both between their physical parts and with the spaces they inhabit.

Oscar Tuazon, Untitled, 2010
Installation view, Kunsthalle Bern

Adopting the problems and materials of structural engineering and hands-on construction, Tuazon's intervention in the ICA building will be comprised of a number of repeating modular units, made from large wooden beams. The structure will push the physical boundaries of the gallery space, forcing it to adapt and to reengineer itself in order to accommodate the work. Built on site and without plans, the resulting mesh of struts and columns will have an improvised, precarious quality that, in its disregard for the conventional boundaries between the ICA gallery and its other public spaces, suggests the artwork's struggle for autonomy. This will be an object potentially freed from the constraining rules of architecture and art, an object that can survive on its own, without a roof overhead or a structure to house it, or even someone to see it.

The ICA installation is an extension of Tuazon's long-standing interest in how the built environment is redefined and redesigned by the act of inhabitation. Drawing on the methodology of Henry David Thoreau, put forward in his philosophical treatise, Walden (1854), Tuazon's previous works have confronted nature and architecture to suggest that a particular lifestyle can manufacture the space around it. The development of a structure that surrounds the viewer, as opposed to existing on a human scale, constitutes a new trajectory for Tuazon that he first fully explored in an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland earlier in 2010. At the ICA, this strand of his work will continue to grow, with the structure evolving in and negotiating with the space in which it is situated.

Oscar Tuazon was born in 1975 in Seattle, Washington, USA. He moved to Paris in 2007 and co-founded the artist-run collective and gallery, castillo/corrales. His numerous solo shows include Kunsthalle Bern (2010), Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (2009), David Roberts Foundation, London (2009) and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2007).

The exhibition, curated by the ICA's Charlotte Bonham-Carter, will coincide with the release of a comprehensive catalogue on Tuazon's work, published by Kunsthalle Bern, Do.Pe. Press, Paraguay Press, Centre international d'art et du paysage de l'île de Vassivière and Parc Saint Léger – Centre d'art contemporain.

Oscar Tuazon
My Mistake
4 June – 15 August 2010
Institute of Contemporary Arts,