TwitterRssFacebook

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Pope.L

Dorothea Lange

Tala Madani

Keith Walsh

“I’ve written this against a background of both reckless optimism and reckless despair. It holds that Progress and Doom are two sides of the same medal.” — Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

One of the slight advantages of old age has been the opportunity to acquire experiences.  In the early 70’s I was able to attend a concert featuring Miles Davis. I was young, open and aesthetically transient. Davis, legendarily explorative, was the headliner of a small music festival. I grew up with the music—and the image—my father was lucky enough to have dinner with Davis. The concert was loud, electric, exciting and alienating. I do not remember the “songs”, I remember the effect. The meandering, assaultive wall of sound. I also remember Davis, the designated star of the event, mostly standing with his back to the audience. His presence, as well as his act of refusal, filled the room. He walked on his own path – both with us and singly moving away. Occasionally, he looked back. 

What is there to say? Why say anything? Who will hear it? Are you listening? 

In the fall of 2020, as we position ourselves between the exhaustion of Samuel Beckett (“I can’t go on, I’ll go on”) and the desperation of Jean-Paul Sartre (“Hell is other people”) and realize the accuracy of both perspectives — we realize that neither captures the true emptiness of cultural production in our present moment. 

What is to be done? 

He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to see that the new “critical” trend in socialism is nothing more nor less than a new variety of opportunism. And if we judge people, not by the glittering uniforms they don or by the high sounding appellations they give themselves, but by their actions and by what they actually advocate, it will be clear that “freedom of criticism” means’ freedom for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into socialism.

“Freedom” is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom of labour, the working people were robbed. The modern use of the term “freedom of criticism” contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old. The cry heard today, “Long live freedom of criticism”, is too strongly reminiscent of the fable of the empty barrel.

Because something must be done. Artists need to find a way to respond to the assaults encountered every day. We all encounter assaults on everyday life every day. They begin to pile up.

The assaults arrive in both quantity and quality. Everything continues to pile up. Information, documents, knowledge, ignorance, malice, paper, things, music, other sounds, dogs, plastic, broken glass, plastic bags floating in the air, movies about bags floating in the air, moldy newspapers, piles of shows, death marches, tennis matches, madness. Sleep in madness, counting the days, lists, lists of lists, paper, voices, bodies without voices, voices without bodies, crowds without contact, food. The empty bellies scream.

Resistance comes in many forms. Occasionally, waking up takes on the form of resistance. Once awake, one drifts toward an activity– a vocation? The rough voice on awakening clears and the work of the day begins. Does work involve art? The exhibition of art? Does art involve resistance? Voices lie embedded deeply in the sleep of seeing. Meaning becomes ever more elusive, just out of reach.

“I am tired of being a person. Not just tired of being the person I was, but any person at all. I like watching people, but I don’t like talking to them, dealing with them, pleasing them, or offending them. I am tired.” ― Susan Sontag, I, etcetera

So here we are — waiting. Looking back, hoping to catch up with ourselves. Never forget never remember. Will the art remind us? 

This exhibition is to remind us to struggle—to keep on keeping on. Sorting through the accumulated names, dates, archives of libraries. We want to collect the work of resistance. Participants in an act of refusal to participate. This sad house holds the refusal. Exhibits it. Singly, the works reveal the desire to connect—although we cannot legitimately convene at this moment. Together they stand for our shared loneliness. The sad house holds its own past and looks forward to a place of adjoined rooms of consent.

We want contact. We demand consent. We live in exile.

“Exile is the state of mind that people get into in order to escape the reality of themselves in the world of the now — it is a safe place inside the mind full of mostly lies and false visions that allow the being to think that it is free of the responsibility of living in a world with all other living things. If you are “in Exile” this book as small as it is — is to say to everyone, without exception, that you are loved and can indeed RETURN.” ― Joseph Jarman 

“Drifting, dreaming—in search of a space to dwell, a place to rest. These are dark times. The conflict is hidden but haunting nonetheless. There are ghosts everywhere. 

Why are we raising the same cry today?” — Archie Shepp

“All struggle, all resistance is―must be—concrete. And all struggle has a global resonance. If not here, then there. If not now, then soon. Elsewhere as well as here.” ― Susan Sontag, At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches


DB20

Curated by

Michael Mazurek,  Stephen Lapthisophon and Jesse Morgan Barnett / statement by Stephen Lapthisophon