Readers
Dispersal
9 essays
Compiled by Love's Remedies

Modeling the catalyst of an event (the pandemic, e-flux journal’s call for readers) and its subsequent—diffuse, diverse, anticipated, and unforeseen—consequences on subjects both isolated and in communion, we invited interested artists to respond to the articles “Is It Love?” by Brian Kuan Wood (selected by BRD) and “The Unthinkable Community” by Paul Chan (selected by Hannah Varamini) as points of departure for selections of their own. Christina Valentine, Babsi Loisch, Fiona Yun-Jui Chang, Hanieh Khatibi, Elizabeth Preger, Rachel Kerwin, and Silvi Naçi enact Love’s Remedies’ principle of expansive and recursive connectivity through this game of relay and diffusion. The selections revolve around questions of agency, labor, commitment, and participation as artists operating in a dispersed mode of affiliation.

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Brian Kuan Wood
Is it Love?
Originally published in March 2014

And pairs that cannot absorb one another in meaning effects
Go backward and forward and there is no place

Paul Chan
​
The Unthinkable Community
Originally published in May 2010

In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, two men wait by the side of a country road for a man who never comes. If done right, that is to say, if done with humor, fortitude, and a whiff of desperation, the play is as contemporary, funny, precise, courageous, and unknowable as I imagine it was back in 1952, when the play premiered in Paris.

Liam Gillick
The Good of Work
Originally published in May 2010

Art is a history of doing nothing and a long tale of useful action. It is always a fetishization of decision and indecision—with each mark, structure, and engagement. What is the good of this work? The question contains a challenge to contemporary practitioners—or “current artists,” a term I will use, as contemporary art no longer accounts for what is being made—that is connected more to what we have all become than to what we might propose, represent, or fail to achieve. The challenge is the supposition that artists today—whether they like it or not—have fallen into a trap that is predetermined by their existence within a regime that is centered on a rampant capitalization of the mind.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Game Over
Originally published in May 2019

Environmental collapse, global civil war, nuclear proliferation, and epidemics of panic and depression are steps towards extinction. But this is not the end of the world, since abstraction has created a world of its own, subsuming social language and prescribing the social forms of interaction.
 

Boris Groys
Curating in the Post-Internet Age
Originally published in October 2018

One hears time and again that contemporary art is elitist because it is selective, and that it should be democratized. Indeed, there is a gap between exhibition practice and the tastes and expectations of the audience. The reason is simple: the audiences of contemporary art exhibitions are often local, while the exhibited art is often international. This means that contemporary art does not have a narrow, elitist view, but, on the contrary, a broader, universalist perspective that can irritate local audiences. It is often the same kind of irritation that migration provokes today in Europe. Here we are confronted with the same phenomenon: the broader, internationalist attitude is experienced by local audiences as elitist—even if the migrants themselves are far from belonging to any kind of elite.

Reza Negarestani
The Labor of the Inhuman, Part I: Human
Originally published in February 2014

Inhumanism is the extended practical elaboration of humanism; it is born out of a diligent commitment to the project of enlightened humanism. As a universal wave that erases the self-portrait of man drawn in sand, inhumanism is a vector of revision. It relentlessly revises what it means to be human by removing its supposed evident characteristics and preserving certain invariances. At the same time, inhumanism registers itself as a demand for construction, to define what it means to be human by treating human as a constructible hypothesis, a space of navigation and intervention.

Claire Bishop
Zones of Indistinguishability: Collective Actions Group and Participatory Art
Originally published in November 2011

The rise of participatory art since the 1990s invites us to constitute a history of this practice, ideally one that reflects the global spread of this work today.[footnote This essay forms part of a chapter in my
forthcoming book Artificial Hells:
Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship
(London: Verso, 2011).] In charting this history, important variants appear that challenge the dominant way of thinking about participatory art in Western Europe and North America, where this work tends to be positioned as a political, constructive, and oppositional response to the spectacle’s atomization of social relations. By contrast, the participatory art of Eastern Europe and Russia from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s is frequently marked by the desire for an increasingly subjective and privatized aesthetic experience. At first glance, this seems to be an inversion of the Western model (despite Guy Debord’s observation that bureaucratic communism is no less spectacular than its capitalist variant; it is simply “concentrated” as opposed to “diffused”).[footnote “The spectacle exists in a concentrated or a
diffuse form depending on the necessities of the particular stage of misery
which it denies and supports. In both cases, the spectacle is nothing more than
an image of happy unification surrounded by desolation and fear at the tranquil
center of misery ... If every Chinese must learn Mao, and thus be Mao, it is
because he can be nothing else. Wherever the concentrated spectacle rules, so
does the police.” Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (New York: Zone
Books, 1994), sections 63 and 64.] However, and crucially, the individual experiences that were the target of participatory art under really existing socialism continue to be framed as shared privatized experiences: the construction of a collective artistic space amongst mutually trusting colleagues. Rather than frame this work as “implicitly political,” as is the habit with current Western approaches to Eastern bloc art history, this essay will argue that work produced under state socialism during these decades should rather be viewed in more complex terms. Given the saturation of everyday life with ideology, Soviet artists did not regard their work as political but rather as existential and apolitical, committed to ideas of freedom and the individual imagination. At the same time, they sought an expanded—one might say democratized—horizon of artistic production, in contrast to the highly regulated and hierarchized system of the Union of Soviet Artists.

Anton Vidokle
Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art
Originally published in March 2013

“Perhaps contemporary art is an art to survive our contemporaneity as an artist.”

—Boris Groys

Astrida Neimanis
The Sea and the Breathing

As an embodied experience and agentic force, weather moves, scars, imprints. Our armpits dampen in response to the heat; our jaws and tongues stiffen in the biting cold. Like hail-damaged rooftops and sun-bleached laundry, our bodies bear the impressions of the weather-world. We could say that weather is the external conditions that structure one’s quotidian existence; this existence is felt in and as our bodies. Weather has a verbal form.

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