LES REFLEXIONS DANGEREUSES

Luca Lo Pinto & Valerio Mannucci

from NERO n.06 september/october 2005

As often happens, the most interesting reflections develop from the words of artists. This article is a confirmation of that. The idea, in fact, came about after a discussion on musician Terre Thaemlitz’s 1997 text - “The Crisis of Post-Spectacle “Live” Contemporary Ambient Performance (Or... Why I Can’t Get Paid to DJ A-structural Audio)”. His lucid analysis, read today, was mainly a point of flight, a stimulus that pushed us towards vaster horizons, which also include choreography and visual art.
Then things moved forward, and what had, in our eyes, developed as pure coincidences, in the end transformed into a series of elements, each different one from the next, but incredibly compatible, which travelled at equal velocity and in the same direction. For our part, we always maintained as a point of reference the multiple contradictions that are at the base of the mechanisms of production and representation of contemporary culture. And so all that we encountered, the socio-economic theories of Luc Boltanski; the doubts connected to what we usually go see; the sense of bewilderment in front of accepted critical conventions; the “politically incorrect” contradictions of Slavoj Zizek; and even some phrases by R.W. Fassbinder, were superimposed in a frenetic and confused inductive action that made us put some questions on the table; and that, maybe, were “reproduced” from time to time in the text.

What follows is the editing of an exchange of emails with three people who we considered very suitable for this kind of discussion. Jane Dowe, musician and journalist who has worked on various projects under different names and has collaborated with Terre Thaemlitz; Mårten Spangberg, choreographer, theorist on performance and essayist; Andrea Lissoni, critic and curator specialising in new media (and one of the founders of the well-known festival “Netmage”). Three different figures, with different backgrounds, but each ready to attentively look at what we find in front of us, if only for the sole pleasure of looking.

I saw a girl fly through the sky and I looked up her skirt, Gummo would say.


luca&valerio > Jane Dowe > Mårten Spangberg > Andrea Lissoni


luca&valerio: The idea of performance is at the centre of our reflections; how, by its very nature, it is subject to constraints. Let’s depart, for example, with the concept of repetition of performances. In the contemporary art world, performance is still tied to the idea of uniqueness. It is rare that artists repeat one of their performances more than once (with the exception of Tino Sehgal, John Bock or Fabio Mauri). On the contrary, the matter is more evident in the music and theatre arenas. Actual tours exist… Apropos of this, Jacques Attali wrote, “The spectacle emerged in the eighteenth century, and, as music will show us later on, it is now perhaps an obsolete form of capitalism: the economy of representation has been replaced by that of repetition.” In practice, the demand for a performance, and not its uniqueness, determines its cultural and economic value. The choreographer Xavier Le Roy prefers to speak about repetition and not reproduction when he talks about his work because something new and different is created each time, although he’s the first to admit that the fundamental reason is economic… How is the economic necessity of a performance’s repetition tied to the artistic necessity, or to the necessity of the work’s content?

Jane: Repetition is a necessity for economic success. Even if we’re only talking about a cultural economy, repetition is a formula for larger gains. As I’ve done various projects under different aliases I’ve found that it has shortened my potential. Initially I thought that it was merely shortening my odds of fame and fortune, but even the ability to practice my art is stunted since without support only certain artistic practices are possible for me. Likewise in stage performance one must repeat oneself or the opportunity to perform again is reduced.

Mårten: The basis for any art production in the Western world is simply an economical one, and it is only when realising that it is a simple one, that it becomes inspiringly complex.
Within an economy of representation it is no longer what an artwork is, either as an object or what it tries to depict or represent, but what it does, what it performs, how it manages to circulate in which kinds of economies. Evidently, there is no way out of such economies, or circulations, in our society. (…) Similarly, art cannot shortcut or escape its contexts, its founding father, modern democracy and capitalist economies. This is indeed the luxurious feature of inclusive post-Fordist society, which, following in the footsteps of Foucault, however his rather interesting understanding of resistance, implies that the institution of critique is also always already incorporated. It is for this reason, therefore, that in his later period Foucault establishes concepts around governability, which, in this case, is a means of incorporating the ‘situation’ into a critique.
In his history of governability, Foucault endeavours to show how the modern sovereign state and the modern autonomous individual co-determine each other’s emergence. (…) Hence, critique is governed by certain hierarchies; its very formulation will consolidate the governing agent, but the arts can issue contexts, or situations that are affiliated to, but not productive of, the governing agent.
On some level or another, all art is performative, and it is in the particular address to which performative that, I believe, art practices today offer potentialities, not of a critique but of what Irit Rogoff has articulated as “criticality”.
Peggy Phelan was hit on the head with her own line of discourse when writing that performance cannot participate in representational economies; performance can not be recorded or documented, because what is recorded is not the performance but something else. What I write is something other than what I thought, and so on… The solution to this problem is to turn the documentation, or recording, into a kind of secondary performance, which can come out as performative writing. A good example is Tino Sehgal, whose work not ‘only’ shows a performance but also contaminates its contexts to the extent that the viewer starts to perform a/the context. For example, when a museum guard dances a little dance and tells the viewer that this is a work of Tino Sehgal, this act is interesting in how it renders every museum guard an art work, a performance, or, and this is perhaps the most important aspect, a visibility that cannot be ignored. So I think that repetition, as much as it is the problem for any, and especially artistic, production is also the opportunity to produce both differentia and differentiation. It’s just a matter of conceptualising one’s output and making sure it’s specific to its own productive configuration.

Andrea: Complex question. I have the impression that the economic problem is a above all a problem for who works in the performing arts in the strict sense, particularly when his or creations are “outside of the format”. This is an interesting category. Because if “outside of the format” is a standard in the artistic-visual field (regardless of reproducibility/repetition) and what carries weight to the quality of the work in itself (the economic question is, in part, out of the game, it’s possible that the visual artist is able to sell docu-fragment, as Barney calls them) in the strictly performative ambience, the problem is also the expository context. On stage? No, of course, that it’s dance or representation/ mise-en-scène. And, therefore, who works producing outside of the format – because it comes to them like that, it’s their research after all – has two paths before him: or it’s part of the theatrical stage, in its conventions, and not only architectonic, and in that world (also economic) of belonging and subsistence (made of sbigliettamenti, takings, siae, and so on) and this is the path that many, more or less obligated, seem to chose; or they slip away and remain on the outside. Europe especially has the fortune of being able to count on independent, off-spaces, foundations, and on a quantity of museums and art centres that, partly in order to diversify the offer, partly because what’s happening is interesting and costs less (see next response) which open their doors to performative projects. From which comes the very frequent confrontation between the worlds one belongs to and practices, traditionally and formally distant, like dance/theatre and visual arts. The example of Tino Sehgal is a good one, that from the experience with Le Roy, he gathered the key points of both systems, profiting from them, and, not by chance, questioned the issue of economies also from the point of view of content (see the intervention at the 2005 Venice Biennial, German Pavilion). Another point is also: and the public? How and how much does it gather? Above all, does it realise that it’s part of, not only behaviourally but also existentially, of the question in play? It would be interesting if a study was developed – as it was by Maurizio Lazzarato on video – on the performative practices read in a sociological key, keeping in mind the transformation of the work and its constitution in the post-Ford era. In this sense, Carlo Antonelli takes up an interesting trajectory in the text you are familiar with in “Incursions”.


luca&valerio: Shifting points of view, we can also individuate other risks, not necessarily tied to the specific work of an artist or the content of a particular work, but which instead relate to the development of a certain type of practice. Apropos of this, Thaemlitz called attention to the danger of forcing certain types of ‘new’ practices into old school cultural parameters. He referred to the necessity that was created in recent years of reinserting the most superficially performative element into the electronic arts, whereas performativity, intended in the executive-virtuoso sense, didn’t have a motive to be. Particularly highlighting the fact that such unconscious necessity of adapting oneself to the old canons was, in reality, dangerous for the continuation of a genre of artistic expression like that of the contemporary immersive and ambient arts.

Jane: I agree completely, although I think younger generations will eventually adopt newer models. If we look at any revolutionary movement in the arts it generally takes time for new ideas to supplant the old. In music the adoption of serial techniques never moved beyond the academic. (…). While the serialists were still pitch-centric in their strategies, they opened up new possibilities for explorations of noise, sound and process that permeates almost all music. Similarly, those ideas that we envision as being potentially new in the digital arts may only be a mere doorway for the next generation, whose ideas and practices are beyond our imagination. I’m optimistic that even if it appears that the new is being retrofitted, it is also slowly negotiating and wearing away the older structures.

Mårten: Fortunately, I believe that the arts function like any other market or site of circulation. The arts and its opportunities for production are distributed with respect to territories, so when something ‘new’, whatever we mean by that, occurs there are a number of structural, strategic and tactical facts, or conventions, that need to, or will be, negotiated. There is a high level of complexity to map when arguing around the necessity to ‘fit’ into old structures, because something indeed needs to fit into some thing, or at least be rendered recognisable in order for it to exist at all. One issue about electronic arts addresses precisely this: if electronic arts were not inscribed in established traditions, how would it be considered art? If it wasn’t, it would not gain a place in a number of sites in which sound, for example, is represented. Through the inscription in certain territories, electronic arts gained a place among the already recognised, but this inscription also implies or supports a deterritorialization of the given field. A simple analogy could be to view how dance music has developed in the 20th century.
Perhaps Thaemlitz here refers to performativity, not with respect to representation or the made visible in an artistic practice, but how electronic arts could have issued different performatives, or at least associated with other territories. The tendency to move into existing territories implies to sign up for whatever ideologies such territories communicate. So when electronic arts move into established frames, what it also learns how to, and have to, perform are the performances of the territory, in relation to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, and so on. When electronic arts move into sound territories, it also implicitly agrees to the heterosexual male, Christian, Caucasian, middle class performance. (…) I believe that Thaemlitz’s argument is an understanding, of why should electronic arts, which as a production, undermines representational orders, sign up to known territories and hence maintain the hegemony of artistic production when electronic arts instead could have been a site where different types of individuals could be active. Relating shortly to Benjamin, what Thaemlitz acknowledges is that even if everybody can be an artist not everybody is allowed, at least not when it comes to the aura of territories and labels.
(…) The necessary and excluding strategies of creating a community to create an axis of recognisable, reoccurring events around which a group of individuals can produce an identity and allegiances. Strategies that, in turn, produce notions of territory. An inside and an outside are established, or, in other words, a border, the crossing of which always implies an exchange of economy, a custom. Artistic and activating strategies constantly use, apply, deviate, undermine and activate customs of different kinds. (…)
It is only when an opponent can detect the location of a different production that a negotiation can occur. This location must be invented, and invented outside of existing or current customs in order to be successful. Such inventions, however, can only emerge out of a singular situation and in its invention is also the production of a possible custom, which can be interpreted and issued by any community, as friendly and hostile, inclusive and restrictive.
(…) This means that it might not be efficiency of an action itself that is important, but the invocation, invention and establishment, or similarly destabilising, of customs, and that the already existing local and global communities need to inscribe these customs in and of themselves. It is this passing from action to custom, in whatever sense, that produces art as activating, that renders it an event. (…) The artist’s position today is perhaps not to make pictures, hence any image always already functions as a contained economy, but rather to picture situations, in which groups of people or issues are engaged in singular multiplicities. That is where the artistic production deviates from both a Kantian aesthetic tradition and an instrumentalised notion of the arts, and transforms into a productive force in which the viewer/spectator is engaged in an active way as a singular within a multitude.
The artist is thus not somebody that can (successfully) inform a viewer or community, to introduce something foreign, new or unique, but the task must be rather to allow the viewer to elaborate his or her individual engagement, into an emancipated spectator. (…)
So to come back to electronic arts, it is my belief that today’s objectives are not to be part of certain known territories but to continuously engage in whatever multiple territories we are part of, in themselves and what they perform with regards to distribution, ownership, accountability, etc.

Andrea: It would be interesting to understand what exactly Thaemlitz means by the “immersive arts”. However, what you define a risk and that live (sic) is without a doubt a paradox (the ancient and now outdates live electronics), is probably destined, as often happens, to insert a transformation. Remaining in the field of electronic music: performativity would appear not to be able to have a sense of being, and I offer this testimony: I can’t forget, during Netmage 05, in Bologna, inside a theatre that was disrupted in its form and function (the screens were suspended sideways, dividing the space in two; the sound was diffused as if in two environments side by side in a single space, the public could sit not only in the room, but also sit or lie down on the stage; the musicians ‘played’ at the base of the stage), Phil Niblock watched his own ‘live’ audio/video, with the sounding of his extraordinary films from the series “The Movement of People Working”, leaning on the stage with his arms crossed. A symbolic choice? The evening before, Staalplaat sound system was, however, decidedly in action, ‘playing’ with micro-radios and toy motor vehicles modified in the live Yokomono… And to give general examples, what is the constitution of live like those of Matthew Herbert, Jamie Lidell, Leafcutter John, and many others? Or, overturning the disciplinary fields, the paradigm of reference in the Myriam Gourfink/Kaspar Toeplitz project? Executive-virtuoso performativity is a necessity of adapting oneself to the old cannons? The problem that you expose is really interesting, even if you suggest leaving issues of individual works (of ‘poetics’, as they call them) and content out of consideration. The problem falls then on the context, on the systems of mediation, on the expository frames (and this point is excellently illustrated by Mårten Spangberg), on the system’s diffusers (the theatre, museum, art centre, the festival of…). But not only. Excluding, then, the question of poetics and politics (even if it’s right there that the constitution plays, but also the discriminating critic for the valuation of the surplus value of the quality of the musicians and choreographers ‘live’, like those you cited), the problem falls back from another angle, on the evolution of the same expressive artistic forms. And here I return to the point of the ‘transformations’. Every input, intersection, performative or other behaviour, will design hypotheses of new territories. The eventual quality will be certified by the devices and/or will be inside the logic of the work, of the path of its authors. The behaviours, because human, are necessarily unpredictable and this unpredictability can generate new and other unpredictable forms, perhaps also, even casually, languages. I believe that the point is not the birth of compromises that can then reveal themselves to be dangerous for a genre or a discipline. On the contrary I think that those are terrains to cross, frequent, observe, eventually sustain, because often generative and energetic. The point will never be only the constitution of a language, but, completely in agreement with Spangberg, “…to picture situations…”. With this it’s not a given that something necessarily happens in the ricombinatori processes, of appropriation, of manipulation, and of interventions of elements seemingly alien, on the contrary… but one mustn’t preclude or obstruct, at most problematize. The quality or the effectiveness (a parameter that has something to do with the economy), will touch the public then, all things considered, to sanction it.


luca&valerio:Furthermore, it seems evident that in the ambit of the laptop set, while new strategies of performativity were not devised, the discriminating element that determines the difference between reproduction and performance is reduced to the concept of the presence or absence of the musician on stage. We could trace this phenomenon back, by association, to the ever-increasing demand in the art world of inviting artists to speak, to hold conferences. It almost seems as if the market pays the artist more as a “storyteller” (to cite a phrase by Cesare Pietroiusti) than as a producer of a work in the traditional sense. What do you think are the motivations behind this?

Jane: Part of this could be that the end product is rarely understood. To most it’s just sound for the sake of sound and to differentiate one laptop performer from another is daunting to many. Thus other signifiers become critical and in the end it is more of a marketing game than a battle of superior production.

Mårten: Well, the short answer is, of course, that if somebody can earn money from the artist’s image, that somebody will not hesitate. The emergence of the artist as storyteller is a joint venture, and certainly not new, by many forces in the art world, and they are not likely to disappear. (…) Most examples of artists working on the circulation of the artist as a post-Fordist hero end up being rather presumptuous and, at the end of the day, consolidating precisely the positions given, and evidently so, both process and result, following Guy Debord, is inscribed in the spectacle. (…)
The organization of performance into presence and absence, which is a very strong tradition in theatre/performance and dance, is a dead end, building on philosophical traditions that issue some kind of founding agent of the subject, from Aristotle to Derrida. (…) I think we have to let go of these issues and start making contemporary performance. I mean, what’s wrong? Who the hell is interested in identity politics, who the hell is interested in the body as text, as a site of violence, of sexual disposition? (…) The theatre, and its symbolic spatiality, is a dispositif that is completely in stalemate, and the subsidized economy and empire of managers are not likely to evaporate. And that is also valid in the visual arts, where Santiago Sierra consolidates performance as display, to which I can only respond consecutively (“Oh, this is terrible. How can an artist do such a thing?” or “This guy really revealed something important!” or finally the feel good of becoming aware of my scopofilic position), whereas the work of seemingly distant artists like Felix Gonzales-Torres, Tino Sehgal and even Superflex produce situations of engagement to which the viewer can, or even must, respond (…). The Sierra kind of artist is still, and I quote Bruce Nauman, “a revealer of mystic truths”, whereas the Torres model instead provokes emancipation through and activation of the spectator. Sierra can always only be spectacular and pacifying, whereas Torres and company can activate through commonplace gestures. Against his will, Sierra thus becomes the Grand ontologist and Torres, who could be understood as engaged in something personal, becomes an artist of emancipation and engagement.
In brief, the abundance of laptops in the art world is not very curious but what’s curious is how homogeneously they are utilized. It doesn’t concern me that one can reproduce sounds with a laptop rather than a guitar, but rather what can happen to sound, in its broadest sense, through portable computer technology. Recent development in sound is really thrilling but not because of how it sounds, but in relation to notions of distribution, ownership and decentralization. For me, too many people working in the realm of sound are far too interested in how it sounds, not what it does or how it functions. I also think that concepts of composition can radically change through these new technologies.
Sound is one territory, but I’m personally more interested in television. I don’t mean distribution of video art on the Internet, but what new portable technologies can provoke in relation to television, especially informatics television. If regular people can produce television and distribute it on open channels or on the Internet, what implications do such activities have on the hegemonic landscape of conventional television? Art and television have a very close relationship but TV-art seems something to develop further. I would make a division between TV-art and art TV. When something looks like “art” in television its critical potentiality is cancelled and it can only end up on television because television needs it to obtain some status or other. If one instead considers TV-art, i.e. art that operates with and through television conventions, including templates, formats, narratives, performance, without the desire to display something other than television, there might be a vast territory to examine in relation to what information and communication is (…). Recently I heard that families in Sweden, especially with Arab backgrounds, film their weddings and buy time on open channels broadcasted over the public service network, where they later send more or less unedited material. This is extraordinary as it proposes something totally different than the traditions of television in the Western world.
To conclude, there are far too many laptops that are used without complexifying the use. Laptops are the tool of the next ten or 100 years, and as a norm it cannot be excluded but only complexified.

Andrea: Various. Relational, concerning the curators-artists, and as regards to the obsession of being always connected and, paradoxical formula, on the field (paradoxical because they rarely refer to and interpret the facts). Economical. It’s obvious, with an 1,500 Euro all-inclusive budget, we can permit the presence, but with which one cannot (or perhaps one does not dare) invest in the production of a work. Naturally there are clear exceptions, institutions based on reflection and exchange, or ‘storytelling’ as a strategy if the institutions are missing or do not want it (the excellent season of “Generations of Images”, in Milan, created by Roberto Pinto and fundamental enclave in the late 1990s). But, apart from the reasons of the system: more poetically (who knows?), a desire for exchange, an issue/will for confrontation of and with the public, perhaps a necessity of coming closer, an attempt at greater understanding. It’s interesting, however. Beyond the standardised PowerPoint divulgations, a path of stories takes shape, an oral dimension that interrogates and reconsiders the dictatorship of the reproduced image, always and only (necessarily) from a point of view. They are narratives that expect nothing less than being manipulated, reinterpreted, and reinvented.

luca&valerio: We would also like to turn our attention for a little while to sound art. Excluding any desire for definition, but understanding it according to the commonly diffused meaning (or considering the artists, works and exhibitions that refer to this label), it’s evident that in the majority of cases, an almost total absence of performativity is noticeable. Especially because, if it were present, it would be difficult to distinguish a potential ‘sound art performance’ from the idea of experimental and ambient music, or from the modern theories of music composition and execution (Schaffaer, Berio, and Cage are the most well-known examples). Therefore, one tends to connect the concept of “sound art” to the idea of installation, interactivity, documentation, or narration. Could sound art not configure as a specific strategy inside the cultural-economic panorama, rather than as a vast and free field of action as it is habitually understood?

Jane:I think also that just as the installation etc. trumps the performance, concept is also overshadowing composition. Even in a gallery situation it should be possible to still view sound as a time-based practice and not merely a one-dimensional static exhibition of the medium. By this I’m referring to installations etc. that become rather dull after the initial impact.

Mårten: I think I have already answered this question above. But I can write more if you want.

Andrea: The indexing obsession, the necessity of cataloguing at all costs, reassure and nourish those who that world observes and has eventual interests in keeping in consideration as potentially activatable strategies specific to the cultural-economic panorama. But more than boundaries and definitions, perhaps it’s talking about frontiers, permeable charters, and open maps. Without forgetting about identity, of course, and therefore also the history and formation of who lives and naturally conducts research in those territories. The risk of card cataloguing and creating categories is that the way of listening to difference is liquidated, preferring generality, which is more comforting but reductive. We find ourselves with a definition of a genre that becomes accepted and shared, as happened with ‘video art’, for example.


luca&valerio: In closing, we wanted to address the growing development of groups of artists, but also curators, critics and writers, who unite under a collective identity. If, initially, one could depict this choice as an attempt to break or criticise the predominant idea of individuality and authoritativeness in the cultural system, now it seems to have lost effectiveness, and ending up being absorbed by the very system that it intended to criticise. What are your ideas regarding this diffused need for collectivity?

Jane: I think it is merely a response to the amount of content being produced. Perhaps the only way to be recognised amongst all the individual links is to be recognised as part of a “movement,” “scene,” or “theme.” Thus collectives are quite natural, both for instantaneous validation from other members and increased resonance due to the repetition of multiple artists speaking the same language to the outside world.

Mårten: To begin with, it is important to properly negotiate the difference between more or less conventional management models and terms such as collaboration and/or collective/collectivity. It seems to be a bad omen when simple teamwork and collaboration are intermixed and confused. (…) As far as I know, even the most demonic director or choreographer is collaborating in some way or another. A conductor in front of a symphonic orchestra is still inscribed in a collaboration, and one with very specific features. If a group or constellation wish to address collaboration as an important feature of its work or its being some kind of community, it must at least know and be able to articulate what specific features a collaboration or collective want to emphasise. If what one wants is to push the importance of working together, that the result can be different or that it deviates from models of authorship, it is my belief that one should stop talking immediately as I hardly can imagine any work situation that is not constructed around these or similar issues, understood as positive or negative. There seems to be a political paradox inscribed in any collaboration (…). Aren’t politics motored by these very operations between equality and liberty, and thus become the only realm necessarily to invest in with respect to intra- and extra-structural notions of domination?
It is also interesting to note that within the arts the production of collaborations and collectives is generated with respect to processes and appearances through strong spatio-temporal coordinations, i.e. collaboration and collectivity is hardly ever addressed under any other circumstances than superficial deviations of authorship, through which the instigator, the delegating unit, receives an even stronger position (…).
Three decades later the arts have returned to process; quoting, doubling, honouring and deviating through a complete mismatching of heroes of the neo avant-garde, recycling aesthetics to make collaboration recognisable, resurrecting ideology in an easy way in order to disguise the fact that we have nothing to voice. But it seems less in a manner of emphasising heterogeneity as a clumsy means of escaping malign capitalism ala late ’90s. (…) What artistic work is not issued through one or another process? Hardcore conceptual work, yes. But that is something that we haven’t seen in the performing arts since the late ‘60s, considering that a conceptual work, at least as inscribed in art history, is protocol based and cannot, on a display level, involve any process, or collection of experience due to the works representation. It is not enough to speak about process but it necessarily has to be conceptualised, or preferably speak its
conceptualisation through its representation. Never mind any interdisciplinary attempts which often sound great on the level of application but seldom offer any further production of ideology or knowledge in its presentation. With both process and interdisciplinarity it’s awkward to realise that its manifestation, as with collaboration, seems to have been formalised to include only a process just prior to a finished product, but is rarely considered to include any other frame of time or space.
What process-orientated work in the arts needs to look further into are matters of ownership.
To what extent, and in what respect, are mechanisms and processes owned by someone or some entity? An activity, whatever process is involved, will necessarily be represented by or through somebody, or some entity, and it is therefore important to address not what process is implied, but what differentiation of ownership a given process provokes, due to what market or environment. It has become common that performers are inscribed in credit lists as co-creators but it is rarely common to consider what it would imply to matters of co-ownership.
Even though I risk becoming tedious I still want to raise these questions on responsibility that necessarily occur with respect to process and production. (…) It seems that co-authorship decreases opportunities of resistance, doubt or failure due to the fact that each individual, or institution, involved runs the risk of losing face, a feature that democracy necessarily carries with it. Its regime of cowardice is exponential to any legitimised consensus.
In fact, the process-orientated work that has flourished in the arts over the last ten years has been an important factor relating to the currently conservative climate. Is it perhaps so that an autonomous author could instead venture into a greater degree of radicality due to the fact that a collaborator is familiar with exactly what responsibility is issued? Something that must, at least for the capacity for critique, be true. The entire range of collaboration, process, co-production, co-authorship etc. is the arts own opportunistic response to a society of control.

Andrea: I don’t know if one can talk of a growing development in the need for collectivity. It seems to be a diffused and shared attitude of the twentieth century. Certainly, in every collective or associative form, it happens that with the infringement of individuality, provided it’s an index of value, sooner or later one has to reckon with the experience. The collaborations, openings, elective affinities (this yes, also mediated by the more or less pop music world – by featuring hip hop or R&B to the indie electronica projects), seem to be an interesting and specific trait of the most recent times. If individuality is a common good, the mark of the collective is a possible last name, a form of representation of a territory, an identity and not a brand tout court. They open around music labels, brands, or cinematographic production realities (the case of Anne Sanders), inter-disciplinary curatorial teams based on the exchange, interpretation and diffusion of forms and research (Xing in Italy), magazines that arrive at (re)producing consciousness (like Nero or Purple Magazine, but also The Wire, Butt and many others), practices (as it was with live media and VJ-ing before), and often they are counterfoils of coincidences, meetings, friendships, passions. Alien nations, open and provisory territories of the present (well exemplified by The Land) that chew, mix, digest and spit out the consciousnesses that design our small and large everyday.

(01/3)