Art or Consequences

January 12, 2015

Obsolescence and interchangeability of artworks

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 3:52 am

In a constantly updated media the artist is threaten relentlessly with obsolescence. Artworks have become exchangeable with other artworks that are immediately accessible, or with any other cultural product that has taken an artwork look. The artist, inasmuch he is so, must resist interchangeability, because that´s what makes him susceptible of being obsolete. The only way the artist (or anyone, for that matter) has to elude the possibility of becoming obsolete is to be obsolete from the very beginning. This is, to refuse engagement.

The most effective trap for luring artists into making interchangeable artworks is set by a systematic public campaign in which art is exhaustively praised for all qualities it could have, except that one which makes it specific.

January 11, 2015

The inescapable artist’s movement of encircling

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 4:53 am

The assembly of all the works an artist has made in his life is a representation of what he did not want to present. This is a mystical understanding of art and language, for which artworks, as precise language devices, are surrounding what it cannot be said. If he has been thorough with his task the works have been placed accurately, the limits well outlined, and the absence has become distinct. Among the many names of the Unnameable “nothingness” seems to be another good one to refer temporarily to that core.


January 10, 2015

What is nobler in the mind?

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 4:49 am

The debate between the committed artist, taking positions for social and political problems, and the artists who care more about the meaning of art, and therefore the meaning of life and death, is carried on lower levels of intensity than that of Hamlet within himself: what is nobler in the mind? To endure or to act? And still further: to die?
Ideally the artist should be open to all these possibilities, but the political militancy is exclusive. It needs certainties that one cannot afford when trying to understand what is essentially nobler.

January 9, 2015

Decision, production

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 5:11 am

One is only deciding when the decision leads towards one’s own destruction. The rest of the options are not such, but default settings. There are few decisions taken by several persons, because only in very particular occasions a group can decide jointly for paths that lead to their own destruction, as a group or as individuals. As soon as something is spoken is already somehow reasonable and bound to production, and its limits and intentions appear clearly marked. Why anybody might be interested in deciding, and so deciding his own destruction, is something that may be argued, but the discussion is most likely to say something about the nature of art.

January 8, 2015

Save the world

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 4:15 am

It is only natural that those who are truly committed to act right, to make good in the world, finish into a situation in which they believe there is no ethical reason to act in one way or another. For ethical positions are like scientific hypothesis: the validity of the right ones cannot be proved, but one can refute the false. In his pursuit, the ethical person debunks relentlessly all those right attitudes he is confronted to. People less identified with the ethical task are eventually contented with one set of rules they have found in the way they have not the energy, the talent or the carefulness to question enough. To believe that there is no reason to act in one way or another doesn’t lead to a reckless behaviour, because the impulse of being good is always the underlying theme. This seems to be the case of Wittgenstein, one may think after reading his Lecture on Ethics and some episodes of his life.

January 7, 2015

Work of art, commitment, Adorno.

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 5:05 am

In Commitment Adorno says that Sartre is in agreement with Kant when he says that “the work of art does not have an end”. The reason for that is that it is an end.
For me the work of art is a leftover. Adorno betrays the gracious elitism of which he is normally accused of when he attributes value to the work of art (instead to the art experience).

January 6, 2015

Towards micronisation

Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 4:47 am

The use of the word “enemy” is dangerous, because immediately puts one into supporting binary oppositions in which some people are good and some people are bad. But if “enemy” is, as well, referred to the forces inside that push oneself into certain opposite direction to those one thinks should go, if the opposition is just of directions, then the word becomes open enough as to conjure this danger.

January 5, 2015


Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 4:50 am

After the discredit of religion in western world, when people hear “faith” they understand “superstition”. This is a sort of superstition on its own, a lack of faith indeed.

January 4, 2015


Filed under: Diaries — Manuel @ 12:12 pm

The issue is not artworks becoming commodities –this is their nature- but the artist wishing for them to become so, because as soon as one artwork has reached successfully the market, the artist (what is left of him) has a wish, however faint, for it.

Que saiz-je?

Filed under: News — Manuel @ 10:59 am

Previous entries of the blog, the Que-saiz je? series, which I wrote from October 2012 until April 2014 are now in this pdf.

This is a fresh start for the blog, which I will write now alternatively in Spanish and English, depending of the theme and the mood.

00 que saiz-je



Que saiz-je?

I think these are not new ideas about art, but instances of a line of thinking that can be followed in authors of all times, only if you know where and how to look. The reason why this view is put aside doesn’t respond always to a Machiavellian plan, its knowledge being prevented by people with other interests, but it also comes out of the difficulties of finding the right cues and paths to reach it. Many young artists are driven by what art really represents in their lives, but they are misguided when offered instead insistently art in the shape of decoy representations, different than the one they are really moved by.The meaning of these series is to express a point of view toward certain matters on contemporary art that I feel is not present in most art contexts and that, if taken in account, would enrich the awareness and experiences of artists and art people.

Each Monday I deliver a new title which is usually triggered by an idea I found false, reductive or incomplete, which I have heard or read on an author who has stated it as if it was unquestionable truth, and taking for granted the agreement of those reading or listening (me among others).

I am especially happy with the title of the series. The formula que sais-je? remits to the French book collection that puts at the reach of general public areas of knowledge which have been established as objective truth. It makes it a bit more complex the fact that it is in a question form: the author questions himself what he/she already knows but perhaps he/she is not aware of. It seems to be doubting of his/her own accepted knowledge. To substitute “sais” by “saiz” perverts further this relationship with truth and objectivity: the knowledge stated in these articles is true conforming to saiz´s idea of the subject and of what is true, of which he, himself, systematically doubts.

Even further, the question might be also interpreted as something like, “what kind of saiz am I?” or “who am I?, being these series then an attempt of defining my own for myself, by looking at ideas I guess I stand for but I am not sure until I write about them (even then, I do not know for sure).

Ever since Michel de Montaigne, the founder of the modern essay, gave as a motto his befuddled “What do I know?” and put forth a vision of humanity as mentally wavering and inconstant, the essay has become a meadow inviting contradiction, paradox, irresolution and self-doubt. The essay’s job is to track consciousness; if you are fully aware of your mind you will find your thoughts doubling back, registering little peeps of ambivalence or disbelief. According to Theodor Adorno, the iron law of the essay is heresy. What is heresy if not the expression of contrarian doubt about communal pieties or orthodox positions? This is sometimes called “critical thinking,” an ostensible goal of education in a democracy. But since such thinking often rocks the boat, we may find it less than supported in school settings. Typically, the exercise of doubt is something an individual has to cultivate on his or her own, in private, before summoning the courage to air it, say, in an essay.

Phillip Lopate in The New York Times


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