e-flux journal issue 39 out now

e-flux journal issue 39 out now

e-flux journal

A 1952 photo of a purported UFO over Passaic, New Jersey.
FBI document, July 31, 1952.
November 13, 2012

with contributions by Franco Berardi Bifo,
Jodi Dean, Jalal Toufic, Mark Beasley, and Michael Baers


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When Hurricane Sandy tore through the Eastern US on the eve of the presidential elections, it seemed that a certain fatigue had found a strange mirror image in the libidinal force of completely absurd weather patterns, that a tired resignation to a lack of options in the political sphere had actually mutated into an apocalyptic revolution in the atmosphere. It was as if a negative omen had come with the prospect that the next global insurgency could arrive by way of non-human forces altogether—totally external to markets, but also to people.

In this issue, we return to an essay by Jodi Dean from 2009, before the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, in which the political theorist warns against the deep pitfalls of taking democracy for granted as the absolute horizon of leftist political thought. For Franco “Bifo” Berardi in this issue, it is through the deployment of language as poetry that we can resist capture. Bifo has often traced the current sense of doom back further, to a death of the future that accompanied the economic stagnation of the 1970s. For Bifo, crucially, the future in the mercantile West was always pegged to economic growth and the promise of increasing wealth. But even in the case of state-controlled economies in the East whose future prosperity was pegged to popular social and economic ideology, the future arrives as a kind of absolute currency. It is poetry that reactivates another sensation of time in the singular vibration of the voice.

Here we can also look to the resilience and sublime integrity of the works of Michael Asher (1943–2012), who passed away in October. In this issue, Michael Baers remembers Asher as his mentor at CalArts and though a final, unfinished work on the adaptive re-use of industrial factories by contemporary art institutions. Also in this issue, Mark Beasley reflects on Mike Kelly’s music projects as a search to recapture a popular voice offensive to the piety of tradition, but also to the formatting of the popular. And Jalal Toufic looks back to find a form of life that surpasses the terms of death in the story of Christ: “What is impossible for Jesus Christ as the life? Is it to “heal the sick” and “raise the dead” (Matthew 10:8)? No, such actions are possible for a God who is the life; therefore they are not miracles for him. What is impossible for Jesus Christ, the life, is to die … “

—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

In this issue:

Franco Berardi Bifo—Emancipation of the Sign: Poetry and Finance During the Twentieth Century
Money and language have something in common: they are nothing and yet they move everything. They are nothing but symbols, conventions, flatus vocis, but they have the power to persuade human beings to act, to work, and to transform physical things.

Jodi Dean—Democracy: A Knot of Hope and Despair
Why does the left continue to appeal to democracy? Is democracy, as Slavoj Žižek asks, the ultimate horizon of political thought? Is reiterating the ideological message of communicative capitalism the best the left can do in the face of neoliberal hegemony and the collapse of socialism? Is democracy the fall back position for left politics, all that is left of our wounded and diminished political aspirations? Or does the hope its evocation promises mark instead a pervasive left despair? Is this as good as it gets?

Jalal Toufic—The Resurrected Brother of Mary and Martha: A Human Who Resurrected God!
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ … ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial’” (John 12:1–7).

Mark Beasley—Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence: The Voice in Mike Kelley’s Music
It is in the satiric verse and corrupting voice, in the use of text and performance to attack governing institutions, that we find Mike Kelley, the contemporary Goliard, stinking up the institutions—on occasion the Church itself (Judson Church Horse Dance, 2009)—with his version of art, music, and voice as ritual form.

Michael Baers—Michael Asher (1943–2012): Parting Words and Unfinished Work
The matter of Michael Asher’s final, unrealized project is of more than peripheral importance, and I have described my experience at length to ensure that the concept of the project is marked with his imprimatur. I view it as the culmination of his work on the intersection between site, class, ideology, and history—his interest in understanding the real as a negotiation between the historical and structural basis of reality, arrived at through “epistemological procedures of which the archive is the cipher and research the mode.”

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 Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Belgrade: Cultural Centre of BelgradeBanff: 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 / LehrerzimmerBialystok: 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 / 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 Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandet Art Museum Kansas City: La Cucaracha PressKlagenfurt: 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.

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November 13, 2012

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