Saturday, June 18, 2011

For Glenn Ligon


I see you in silkscreen stages
The wrong nigger to fuck with
Getting beaten for what is real
Social practice and what it underlies

Immanent like paint writ over again
Or Benjamin comparing his theology to a blotter soaked with ink
Or a text all these pictures might be worth
Meted into false equivalence

Some bodies aren’t the same as others obviously
You took the black light literal that was your invention
To shine in this inversion of America like a blotter soaked with ink
Repeated until we are whole or blind with presence

Immanent like no description passes for witness
Repeated until we are one with violence
Until God is the nation no negation of negation
Or via negativa will do what we do

Just the sublime despair of cultural production
Messing with you in a white cube
Another name for this tomb
Repeated until we are resurrected or struck through

Until living labor can really live or art is allowed to die
Your own blotter shines like sunlight out of sequence
Playback of what was never felt the first time
Summoning the viewer.

An Archive

--after Carlos Motta

There is an archive in the sky
Not unlike the one on this earth
Except that it doesn’t forget

Here we are forgetful
An archive, your archive, is specific not general
Because it is made of flesh and blood

And because some people can’t speak
Very loudly an archive attempts to speak
In words and pictures it is a kind of multitude

A swarm it takes to the streets and
Like events is not foreclosed
The composite of a few specific questions,

Of research, it tries to keep a promise
When the dead can’t
The person/people who organize it

Obviously matter very much
The archive being an extension of them
In its organization if not in its content

It bears the mark of their concern
Their burning regard not for a world that exists
But for what will have been

To make an archive like writing a poem
May make a living body of history transmissible
Making us bear witness—especially through what

It’s excluded or lost—to the collective struggle
To remember, the threat of disappearance
This struggle represents.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Questions for Contemporary Practice with Carlos Motta (@ Art21)

The latest 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice at Art21 blog features artist, activist, and radical archivist, Carlos Motta.

One of the biggest mistakes we often make is to believe in the monolithic category “ART IS,” which I believe is at the root of the debate (and skepticism) about the political efficacy of art. I don’t think art “IS” one thing in particular. It shouldn’t be thought in the singular, but rather embraced in the plural: Art(s), rather, are, whether objective and social, symbolic and didactic, pedagogical and entertaining, etc. I don’t mean to relativize or to dichotomize these categories, but to insist that a plural frame of mind produces a positive, inclusive, and liberatory rhetoric that resists the dominant and reductive forces of the art market and art history which have through the forces of authoritarianism, paternalism, and capitalism staked their claims over art.