Issue #70
With: Hito Steyerl, Gleb Napreenko, Carol Yinghua Lu, Ilya Budraitskis, McKenzie Wark, Charles Tonderai Mudede
Art has something to teach Marxism about the reasons for its great historical failure to understand nationalism, because art proceeds with the understanding that the materiality of representation is not the same thing as the materiality of production. If it were, if the value-process were reducible to the labor-process, or vice versa, then both art and inflation would be impossible. Duchamp understood this even before Keynes did. Marxists don’t like to admit it, but their whole show…
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7 Essays February 2016
I love history. But history doesn’t love me back, Whenever I call her I get her answering machine. She says: “Insert logo here.” A tank on a pedestal. Fumes are rising from the engine. A Soviet battle tank—called IS-3 for Joseph Stalin—is being repurposed by a group of pro-Russian separatists in Konstantinovka, Eastern Ukraine. It is driven off a WWII memorial pedestal and promptly goes to war. According to a local militia, it “attacked a checkpoint in Ulyanovka,…
In the introduction to Formalism and Historicity , a compilation of essays originally published between 1977 and 1996, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that these should be read from the perspective of contemporary art. Acknowledging the current crisis provoked by the decline of criticism’s historical function, Buchloh reveals that the spectrum inhabited by what he considers to be meaningful, radically reflexive, and critical art has become extremely narrow. Such art is situated on the verge…
It was not long ago that the Western art system was an object of intense focus and emulation throughout China. Beginning with the enthusiastic introduction of Western philosophical writings and Modernist artworks in the 1980s, this one-way exchange crystallized into a dichotomy, with China and tradition on one side, and modernity and the West on the other. Post-Mao, Chinese intellectuals embraced a progressive narrative of history wherein Western Europe and North America represented the…
The dramatic events in Russia and Ukraine over the past two years have begun a new phase in the struggle over the legacy of communism in the post-Soviet space. As the concrete features of “real socialism” become blurred and vanish, those necessary for the production of ideology become ever more sharply defined. It’s often argued that communism, buried a quarter of a century ago as living practice, has since acquired an afterlife in the form of a restlesscorpse, a remnant, a regurgitated…
Continued from “ The Vectoralist Class ” In the first part of this essay I presented the history of commodity production as passing through three overlapping stages, each of which entailed a bifurcation into two classes, which polarizes the social field. In each stage, that field has a certain definitive quality. The rise of industry, and the struggle between worker and capitalist, produces a more abstract topography, a second nature. The rise of information and the struggle…
The Equalizer
Charles Tonderai Mudede
Continued from “ Neoliberalism and the New Afro-Pessimism: Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Hyènes ” Let’s return to this galaxy, this solar system, this planet—indeed, the continent, Africa, that gave birth to an animal that can reflect on planets, solar systems, galaxies, and even the possibility of multi-verses. The movie is The Pirogue . It’s directed by Moussa Touré. It begins in Senegal, and has a young fisherman, Baye Laye (played by Souleymane Seye Ndiaye), as its central character….

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