18 August 2015

Quote of the day, yay!

'The time and situation in which the performance takes place — a singular performance, any singular performance, which is the singular performance that I have in mind — does something that is beyond and that cannot be comprehended by the conceptual tools and analytical moves associated with the “postcolonial” as a scholarly practice. This is due to the fact that something happens, and becomes part of the performance as it happens, which the artist herself could not have anticipated and directed. This occurrence is contingent upon everything that is then/there: the audience, the artists, the technical staff backstage, the curators, the stage, the lighting, the seats, the space between the stage and the first row of seats, the in-room temperature, the outside temperature, what each one of us had for breakfast, how easy or difficult it was to get to the venue … it involves everything; it is about everything. It is about everything because it is about how each one of us then and there reacted or responded to the key descriptor of the performance: “making visible without making public.” This is the turn of critique when it comes out of books into the world, in this case the art world, corrupting the form in the process.


Making visible without making public, I learned while watching (I should say witnessing) [Yasmine] Eid-Sabbagh’s performance, when rendered in the aesthetic form, operates at the level of feelings, both physical and emotional. This practice elicits reactions, tears, laughs, nervous coughs, deadly silences … The art of making visible without making public corrupts the neat web of conceptual methodology that the postcolonial critic learns during academic training. It turns presentation into a confrontation. It is the move that renders one exposed in the moment of exposure because by breaking the polite/police rules of engagement, it also renders the rule-breaker unprotected by them.


Without a doubt, Eid-Sabbagh had already thought about the aesthetic effect of her postcolonial method. She later spoke on “the question of responsibility and how it comes together in the network of the art industry. Who do we speak for? Who are we to speak about the political? [Is] part of the violence [in] the institutional context? How could art exist outside of this context?” She asks whether “there would be a possibility for addressing something like violence in a different way.”


By staging a confrontation, it forges an aesthetic experience that recalls and exposes art’s own performance of the violence that is modern thought, precisely because of the in/difference between the stage and the museum as exhibition sites. Both offer precisely that which Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh’s performance refused (its corruptive move), which is the “ethical closure” effected by a reassurance of difference, namely, of a given distance between “I” (spectator/colonizer/Human Rights enforcer) and the “Other” (exhibit/colonized/victim). For that is precisely what has justified (as explanation, cause, or meaning) the violence done in the first place.'

-- Denise Ferreira da Silva, 'Reading Art as Confrontation', e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale - SUPERCOMMUNITY, 13 August 2015

Thanks to Susan Gibb for pointing me to this essay.


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