Tuesday, February 07, 2006
"Superficial Engagement" (Cont'd)
Or the particular / the particularization / of conflicts / in their generality / specificity or uniqueness / of bodies lost or mutilated / defaced beyond recognition / or twisted / disappeared (in total appearance) / dehumanized by a Western / specificity to lose specificity / in violent diffusions (a “mass / media” imaginary) / lacking what we always have of course / this violence / and the ambivalent / an all-important ambivalence / of artworks may be the only / means to show the mess we are in / clearly / the noise that should yet effect clarity.
This violence / the occupation of Iraq / and of “the world” by the United States / or last gasps of empire / the general “human war” / engagements like contracts / are often violent / “en-“ a prefix of war? / to engage or put into relation / albeit violent / it turns the stomach / (it twists) / the face turns / (it untwists) / to hear / to turn to God in the human / animal / one must listen to see / accretion / the conflicted / messages of someone / existing in it (our “mass media” / imaginary) / if to see is to have at a distance.
If I use / the prose / or conflicted forms / of / a constructivist / it is because / I am the unassimilating yet / in-formed mirror / of Thomas Hirschhorn / whose newest “public monument” / or "installation" / at Barbara Gladstone / gallery in Chelsea / presents a new challenge / to an ever growing / resurgence of "meditational"-"fantastic"-"psychadelic"-"imaginative"-"hallucinagetic" works currently fashionable.
For a few years now / I have imagined making / a longer / poem / using Paul / Sharits’s film / *Piece Mandala End War* / as a formal analogy / this longish poem / as I have conceived of it so far / would have / for its number of words (and/or lines) / the same number / of frames / from Sharits’s film / (something like 1,275) / only instead of individual colored frames / the poem would employ / words for their tonal values / certain words / replacing / the pictorial content of the couple / from the film / engaged in sexual intercourse.
These later words / I had always imagined / as having a “violent” / “shocking” / or sublimating effect / interdispersed / among the tonal words / an effect / that would cut / utterly against / the meditational inwardness / of the tonal words in pseudo-numerical arrangement / and / however simplistic / I have long-thought of this / unfinished project / as one possible solution / to the problem of effectively conveying / radical social-political contents / through forms which may be said / to be ethical / insofar as they instance / divine verticality / and spiritual inwardness.
It would be / I have always hoped / an ambivalent negotiation / of spiritual necessity and socio-political exigency / agit. prop. didacticism / and ecstatic mystical practice.
What reminded me of this / abandoned (or hopefully deferred) / project this past weekend / were Hirschhorn’s juxtapositions of photo print-outs/ of mutilated corpses / (low res. however / graphic / to the point of being revolting / making this / viewer at least / turn away) / with a variety of geometric / color pencil drawings/ and kinetic paintings (also low res. photo print outs).
Hirshhorn’s juxtaposition / of drawings by / Swiss Theosophist / & artist Emma Kunz / and images from the synaesthetic instruments of / Richard Land with images / from the ongoing American- / Imperial “engagement” / in Iraq / and ubiquitous and stealthy / “war on terrorism” / dramatizes a central ambivalence about / artistic response to / geopolitical violence / where currently the “art / world” turns inwardly / towards a spiritualist imagination and an imagination of / popular media / counter to the materialist urgencies / of more direct critique / and intervention.
So perhaps / what we must value / in Hishchorn is / his ability to show this ambivalence / thru / the determined / messy-ness of his installations / where conflict / reigns over resolution / and where messages (headlines in / this case / like “immaterial witness”) contend for the viewer’s attention / among a host of other / cathective points / mannequins with / screws driven into them / CD’s with jewel case covers made by kid's “spiral art” kits / large pine coffins / covered by ironic messages / of mourning and / “cheesey” de-cals.
As if all of the current art trends / "art data" if you will / were swept / into Hirschhorn’s angelic storm of installation-work/ and put face-to-face / the very urgent / and yet incomprehensible or unpresentably / present data of war / an "engagement" the artist might like/ to particularize / to make "specific" / but which becomes obfuscated / by an unmitigating rhetoric of headlines / and the repetition of violent facts.
Walking Chelsea this past / weekend / among so much art / lacking both necessity / and rigor / I could think of no work more necessary / for our current moment / in its mode of presentation / a mode as indeterminate as it is urgent / as monumental / as it is ephemeral / as noisy as it is clarifying / in its ambivalences.