issue 60 out now, and The Internet Does Not Exist at Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin

issue 60 out now, and The Internet Does Not Exist at Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin

e-flux journal

December 10, 2014

e-flux journal issue 60 out now, and The Internet Does Not Exist at Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin

Join us at the Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin for a series of lectures and discussions with Metahaven, Julieta Aranda and Ana Teixeira Pinto, Hito Steyerl, and Diedrich Diederichsen in anticipation of the next installment in the e-flux journal reader series, coming soon from Sternberg Press.

Sunday, December 14, 2014, 3–5pm
Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin: Table J1
Café Moskau
Karl-Marx-Allee 34

e-flux journal issue 60 out now 
with Michael PepiPorter McCrayFranco “Bifo” BerardiHito SteyerlAli Shamseddine and John RichArseny ZhilyaevJonas Staal, and Anna Tzini

The museum may now be assuming a new function in the network. It is being reformatted as a recording device, a flexible memory machine that can store culture like a bank, artworks like a storefront, politics in the form of data. And each of these can be exchanged with one another as currency: the political movement can be turned into an activist archive, sold as an artwork, then exhibited as data, then sealed off in a vault with cultural artifacts for safe keeping. Museums in China are built without staff or contents to fill them long after they are constructed. Others exist online, leaving their buildings to rot. But it would be completely wrong to say that these are the dying gasps of another old-fashioned, overweight institution suffering an identity crisis after its contents got uploaded to the internet. Because more museums are being built today than at any other time in human history. 

Are museums being recalibrated as information centers? Is history now the operating system for institutions of art that no longer add to a canon, yet still need historical legitimacy to maintain the financial value of artworks or an image of national heritage?

The construction of new and often private museums in financial centers and free trade zones from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong seem to point to another function altogether, to a shift in the status of the museum from its conservatorial role in society to one that starts to look increasingly more computational. What are these strange new entities that hoard artworks as financial artifacts and use CAD-designed architecture to advertise a city or state? What do they do and what do they want from us? They are not just vanity enterprises used for laundering money. They are not just playthings for warlords and feudal states. They are not just showrooms for auction houses. Because many are doing the work of traditional museums—collecting, exhibiting, educating. What is new concerns the scale at which they are being built, and the peculiar way they suspend historical consciousness while desperately filling themselves with content.

We have to admit that something very interesting is happening as the archival function of the museum becomes secondary, when the importance of the future or the past is superseded by the utility of the present, by the question of how to format an archive in such a way that it can be recognized and synchronized with other archives, with financial markets but also with the historical disenfranchisement of groups whose losses and pains have not been registered or quantified. These new museums seem to lack a methodology, and yet they are going to work collecting, stockpiling, caching, and building an archive at incredible speeds. What is this fortune of stuff that is actually being amassed, and how is it reformatting our own consciousness in turn? It may be interchangeable and interoperable with other archives, other markets, and other file systems, but is it legible?

—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

In this issue:

Michael Pepi—Is a Museum a Database? Institutional Conditions in Net Utopia
The digital database can, in large part, replace the museum’s traditional function of presenting an object-by-object view of art history for contemplation and study. However, the museum allows us to step out of time, whereas the database is by definition obsessed with time. The museum marks off a space, but the database is an apparatus necessary for the deployment of information into any situation that will accept its format.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi—The Neuroplastic Dilemma: Consciousness and Evolution
The automation of cognitive activity is going to be a major trend of the coming age, and it marks a leap to the posthistorical dimension. In the modern humanist sense, “history” is the process of the conscious affirmation of free projects in the field of political action. But the cognitive mutation that we are talking about is going to dissolve the historical relation between consciousness, politics, and freedom.

Porter McCray—American Tutti-Frutti
But documents responding to the invitation show internal discussions in Belgrade starting officially: “Although we are interested in American art, we don’t think we could accept this exhibition on such short notice.” But then there is this comment: “Don’t give compliments on the exhibition, because she said we are interested in American art.” Then, further comments at the end dismiss the entire idea: “In any case, this will be some kind of American Tutti-Frutti.”

Hito Steyerl—Proxy Politics
A face without a butt cannot sit. It has to take a stand. A butt without a face needs a stand-in for most kinds of communication. Proxy politics happens between taking a stand and using a stand-in. In the territory of displacement, stacking, subterfuge and montage thus created, both the worst and the best things could happen.

Ali Shamseddine and John Rich—An Introduction to the New Syrian National Archive
The Syrians are creating their own archive and are using the web to forge new connections in order to replace old ones that are no longer relevant. At the height of such interactivity they also celebrate the “newness” of the technology that draws the world’s attention to the need to condemn their death and suffering.

Arseny Zhilyaev—Conceptual Realism: The Vulgar Freedom of Avant-Garde Museum Work
Indeed, the transformation of the museum into a work of conceptual art would have been an extraordinary event not only for the art of socialist realism, but also for the Western artistic quest of those years. Nowadays, the ideas of vulgar sociologism that the Proletkult workers and the representatives of the “sociological” school of museum display were charged with still sound horrible to most intellectuals.

Jonas Staal—To Make a World, Part II
We are thus dealing with two fundamentally conflicting states performing themselves: the recognized state of Mali, embedded, through the French, in the borderless empire of global capitalism; and the stateless state of Azawad, which enacts the memory of peoples that were never structured in terms of nation-states in the first place, and whose living, insurgent memory continues to resurface.

Anna Tzini—The Opacity of Queer Languages
Queer slangs are full of irony on several different levels that are recognized by all, but only meant for some. Often the same (ironic) phrase can have different groups laughing for reasons that are not only different, but also politically oppositional, producing a third layer of humor for those who understand both meanings and can see how others are laughing at something that could be read against themselves, but without having the faintest idea.

See here for more information on where to find the print edition of e-flux journal.

RSVP for issue 60 out now, and The Internet Does Not Exist at…
e-flux journal
December 10, 2014

Thank you for your RSVP.

e-flux journal will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.