Sitting at home, you dream of living in places you barely know. And yet, you feel like a tourist in your own city. Maybe you should get out more. But when you do go out, you barely recognize anything. It’s a problem: everything important happens somewhere else. You are more attached to political struggles and events in other places. All the food you eat is imported. All your closest friends and family have moved away to live or work in countries where they don’t speak the language. You might as well join them, but then again that’s what brought you to the strange place where you live now—maybe two or three generations ago. Maybe it’s time to put a stop to all this. You should plan a trip to your ancestral home, the home of your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents, your real home. You should reconnect with your history, with your real self. But this is not a promising option either—you are well aware of the kind of economic capture that masquerades as identity tourism, just as you are attuned to the political capture that the fundamentalists taking over your country already lay out with their promises of a return to a fake womb, to a more essential grounding of identity that never existed anyhow.
Faced with this problem, the available options appear quite meager: you are immobilized as a tourist or dragged across the earth on an endless shopping trip. But actually, these insufficient options are only the beginning of a transformation you have been undergoing for some time. Your sense of rootlessness is in fact your defining condition, and what you are really looking for are the terms you can use to situate this pathological restlessness. Because you are not even here or there anymore—it’s gotten far worse and far more interesting: in fact you are everywhere and nowhere all at once. You are now composed of cosmic particles that float around the earth in clouds that cluster around various places simultaneously. Cancel your travel plans? If only you could! This may be the only way of explaining why your ancestors keep trying to friend you on Facebook, asking to crash at your apartment when they come to town for a conference or to do research for an exhibition. The childhood bullies and teenage girlfriends and boyfriends who visit you in your sleep? The fascists opening fusion food restaurants in your neighborhood? The proliferation of bearded men playing banjo, balalaika, or praying? Good luck!
Like it or not, you have become cosmopolitan. Indeed, the cosmopolitan idea in the West traces back not to the smooth surfaces of transcontinental trade and urban mercantile sophistication but to the opposite, to the cranky and ascetic Cynic philosopher Diogenes, who in the third century BCE claimed his home to be the whole earth. And, like Diogenes, the real challenge is to understand what it means to have already joined with a cosmic polis. A clear political project for this condition does not present itself easily, though you can easily argue that some very significant political movements from the past few years have been composed of vast multitudes of people like you who share this condition. Diogenes was probably the first to declare himself a cosmopolitan, and for that his attachments were all negative: he lived without property, job, or citizenship, dressed only in a cloak while claiming to be happier, freer, and more courageous than kings. When he was famously paid a visit by Alexander the Great, who had heard of a strange and knowledgeable character sleeping in a large jar in the market, and sweepingly offered to grant Diogenes any wish he desired, our cosmic citizen replied, “Please, don’t stand in my sun.”
—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle
In this issue:
Dieter Roelstraete—The Business: On the Unbearable Lightness of Art
Of course, we should note here that the cult of lightness, litheness, and slightness in art also has a social quality, and here too the embattled concept of the nobility of work plays a crucial role: the rejection of, or resistance to, work, and the concomitant glamorization of effortlessness, are little more than contemporary updates of the concept of genius (which, it turns out, we were much too quick to dismiss as historically exhausted).
Rasmus Fleischer—How Music Takes Place: Excerpts From “The Post-digital Manifesto”
If viewed from a distance, all unique combinations of instrument and sound effects start to resemble something more like meta-instruments. The same thing happens if we consider hardware and software, and the different ways in which they can be configured to produce sounds. The development of the musical means of production finds its expression in innovations made at this meta-instrumental level, and these show themselves for the most part to be the results of collective experimentation without any identifiable single author.
Hans Ulrich Obrist—In Conversation with Nawal El Saadawi
Well, in my life, I make no distinction between novels and autobiography, between fiction and facts, the physical and the social or political, the body and the mind. In fact, creativity is the ability to link everything. So the novel Two Women in One is about the schizophrenia that women and men inherit from patriarchy and slavery. It is because of this schizophrenia that the woman in the novel is divided into two by patriarchy, by sexual and political oppression. At the end, she also makes a revolution.
Adam Kleinman—On Sophia Al-Maria’s The Girl Who Fell to Earth
Throughout the book, Sophia is asked to check boxes, like when she applies to college and is asked to identify her ethnicity. Not content with the prescribed fields, she ticks “other” and insouciantly specifies herself as an “alien.” Status is again put into question in a later scene; when asked which name she goes by, “Sophia” or “Safya,” Sophia replies curtly, “whichever.”
James T. Hong—From Guilt to Sickness, Part I: Looking for Plague in All the Right Places
I had heard of so-called “Holocaust Tourists,” and then I became one. I am also a “Japanese Atrocity Tourist,” as I have toured sites throughout China and Asia. Get in, get some shots, get out. I thought Daniel Goldhagen’s Worse Than War genocide documentary should have been on the Travel Channel with a more charismatic host.
Irmgard Emmelhainz—Art and the Cultural Turn: Farewell to Committed, Autonomous Art?
Cultural engineering embodies corporate and government interference in the design and form of living spaces, because it means developing projects with the goal of constructing realities in which culture acts as a fundamental element of innovation, dynamism, and individual and social welfare. For example, culture has been used to revive economically depressed areas, develop educational strategies, and design social spaces. By being present in every corner of the world as an instrument of intervention and improvement—and to promote liberal values—contemporary art also helps normalize neoliberal policies.
The print edition of e-flux journal can now be found at:
Amsterdam: De Appel / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Athens: OMMU Århus: Aarhus Art Building Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Monica / MACBA Basel: Kunsthalle Basel, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / do you read me? / Haus Der Kulturen der Welt/ NBK, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein / Pro qm Berlin and Zurich: Motto Bern: Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder unstverein Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon Gallery Bologna: MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna Bregenz: Kunsthaus Bregenz Bristol: Arnolfini Brussels: Wiels Bucharest: National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (MNAC) / Pavilion Unicredit Cairo: Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) / Townhouse Gallery Calgary: The New Gallery Cambridge: Wysing Arts Center Castello: Espai d´art contemporani de Castelló (EACC) Chicago: Graham Foundation / Logan Center, University of Chicago / The Renaissance Society Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein Copenhagen: Overgaden Derry: CCA Derry~Londonderry Dubai: Traffic Dublin: Dublin City, The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre Dusseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum Farsta: Konsthall C Frankfurt: Städelschule / Portikus Gdansk: Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Łaźnia Genève: Centre de la photographie Ghent: S.M.A.K Giza: Beirut Glasgow: CCA Centre for Contemporary Arts / Sculpture Studios Graz: Grazer Kunstverein / Kunsthaus Graz / para_SITE Gallery Grijon: LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries Hamburg: Kunstverein Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA Hobart: CAST Gallery / INFLIGHT Hong Kong: Asia Art Archive Istanbul: BAS / CDA – Projects / DEPO / SALT Iași: theartstudent at the University of Fine Arts, Iași Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandet Art Museum Kansas City: La Cucaracha Press Klagenfurt: Press Kunstraum Lakeside Leeds: Pavilion Lisbon: Maumaus, Escola de Artes Visuais / Oporto / Kunsthalle Lissabon Loughborough: Radar, Loughborough University Ljubljana: Moderna Galerija LLandudno: Mostyn London: Architectural Association/Bedford Press / Gasworks / ICA / Serpentine Gallery/ The Showroom / Visiting Arts Los Angeles: REDCAT Luxembourg: Casino Luxembourg Madrid: Brumaria / CA2M / Pensart Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie Marfa: Ballroom Marfa Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art / World Food Books Mexico City: Proyectos Monclova Milan: Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Hangar Bicocca, Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes Gallery Minneapolis: Walker Arts Center Moncton: Fixed Cog Hero (a bicycle courier company) Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture Moscow: Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Munich: Museum Villa Stuck / Walther Koenig Bookshop, Haus der Kunst Munich New Delhi: Sarai CSDS New York: e-flux / Independent Curators International (ICI) / Printed Matter, Inc Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Oslo: Kunstnernes hus Oxford: Modern Art Oxford Padona: Fondazione March Paris: castillo/corrales – Section 7 Books / Centre Pompidou / Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers Philadelphia: Bodega Pori: Pori Art Museum Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves Portland: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, (PICA) / Publication Studio Prague: Dox Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina: Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina Providence: AS220 Reykjavik: Reykjavik Art Museum Riga: Kim? Rio de Janeiro: Capacete / A Gentil Carioca Rome: MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma / Opera Rebis Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute / Witte de With Saint-Nazaire: Le Grand Cafe, Centre D’art Contemporain Salzburg: Salzburger Kunstverein San Antonio: Artpace São Paulo: Kunsthalle São Paulo / Master in Visual Arts, Faculdade Santa Marcelina Sarajevo: Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Art Seoul: The Books / The Book Society Sherbrooke: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University Skopje: Press to Exit Project Space Sofia: ICA Sofia / Sofia Art Gallery St Erme Outre et Ramecourt: Performing Arts Forum St Louis: White Flag Projects Stockholm: Bonniers Konsthall / IASPIS / Index / Konstfack, University College of Art, Craft and Design Stuttgart: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart Sydney: Artspace Tallinn: Kumu Art Museum of Estonia The Hague: Stroom Den Haag Toronto: Mercer Union / The Power Plant Torun: Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Torun Toowoomba: Raygun Contemporary Art Projects Trieste: Trieste Contemporanea Umeå: Bildmuseet, Umeå University Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Valletta: Malta Contemporary Art Foundation Vancouver: ARTSPEAK / Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia / Fillip / Motto / READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design Vienna: Salon für Kunstbuch, Belvedere Gallery Vigo: MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo Vilnius: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vitoria-Gasteiz: Montehermoso Kulturunea Visby: BAC, Baltic Art Center Warsaw: Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki / Zachęta National Gallery of Art Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein (NKV) Yerevan: Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art, NPAK Zagreb: Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic / Gallery Nova / Institute for Duration, Location and Variables, DeLVe Zurich: Postgraduate Program in Curating, Zürich University of the Arts / Shedhalle / White Space.