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Utopia

A shattering interruption of unacceptable forms of everyday life is taking place. Forcing a turn of breath (Celan)—take pause and listen. How can this event be understood? How does one experience metanoia today? Utopia must (Il Faut) be a re-reimagining and transformation of this interruption: the possibility of a different form and practice of everyday life. Let us invoke a fearsome phrase of Brecht that Bloch used against Adorno: “something is missing.” Who better to imagine the way and demonstrate this “something,” whatever it may be, than artists? Before Duchamp, had anyone ever imagined using a Rembrandt as an ironing board?

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Compiled by Marcus Hurwitz
9 Essays

In one of his treatises, Malevich writes about the difference between artists and physicians or engineers. If somebody becomes ill, they call a physician to regain their health. And if a machine is broken, an engineer is called to make it function again. But when it comes to artists, they are not interested in improvement and healing: the artist is interested in the image of illness and dysfunction. This does not mean that healing and repair are futile or should not be practiced. It only means that art has a different goal than social engineering.

Of whom and of what are we contemporaries? What does it mean to be contemporary? —Giorgio Agamben 1 According to common-sense understanding, defining what we mean by the “contemporary” in art presents few problems: anything being produced in the present is always contemporary, and by the same token all art must necessarily have been contemporary at the time of its production and/or initial reception. This much is clear. It is also clear, however, that the phrase...
It is clear that curatorial practice today goes well beyond mounting art exhibitions and caring for works of art. Curators do a lot more: they administer the experience of art by selecting what is made visible, contextualize and frame the production of artists, and oversee the distribution of production funds, fees, and prizes that artists compete for. Curators also court collectors, sponsors, and museum trustees, entertain corporate executives, and collaborate with the press, politicians,...
Another conversation threw up a fascinating image: “During our regular night shifts, the general manager used to be abrasive with any worker he saw dozing. He used to take punitive action against them. One night, one hundred and eight of us went to sleep, all together, on the shop floor. Managers, one after the other, who came to check on us, saw us all sleeping in one place, and returned quietly. We carried on like this for three nights. They didn’t misbehave with us, didn’t take any...
Despite ideological differences, the various factions that make up the political right in America—from the grassroots to the astroturfed to the corporate—have found common ground after Obama’s 2008 victory. 1 This ground is the past: an arid patch of mythological land that has become home to a growing organizing effort driven by anti-tax sentiments, elements of nationalism, and a vicious streak against a laundry list of undesirables. 2 This movement only knows one way forward: back....
The End of Prophecy
Words by Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Illustrations by Andrew Alexander

“Do not expect the nightmare to dissolve. Liberal democracy will not come back. It is the source of disaster.”

Geographers say there are two kinds of islands. This is valuable information for the imagination because it confirms what the imagination already knew. — Gilles Deleuze 1 In Martin McDonagh's 2008 film In Bruges , two hitmen are sent into hiding in the Belgian city of Bruges by their British boss. Bruges is a picturesque tourist town, the best-preserved medieval city in Belgium, and the two killers have little to do there other than discover the physical environment through...
One could say that everything begins and ends in Marcel Duchamp’s studio. His first New York studio is perhaps best known from a series of small and grainy photos, some of them out of focus. They were taken sometime between 1916 and 1918 by a certain Henri-Pierre Roché, a good friend of Duchamp. Roché was a writer, not a professional photographer, clearly. He was the same guy who would go on to write Jules et Jim , arguably a far better novel than these are photographs. But their aesthetic...
Traditionally, the main occupation of art was to resist the flow of time. Public art museums and big private art collections were created to select certain objects—the artworks—take them out of private and public use, and therefore immunize them against the destructive force of time. Thus, our art museums became huge garbage cans of history in which things were kept and exhibited that had no use anymore in real life: sacral images of past religions or status objects of past lifestyles....
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