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On route to Vyborg by invitation of Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa. Learning about Ruinenwert (it’s in a troubling relationship to Deep time Marxism). Reading The Value of Ruins: Allegories of Destruction in Benjamin and Speer (2003) Naomi Stead.

The article made me think that the slogan “Personal is Political” is in a problematic relationship to fascism (or totalitarianism): “Personal is political” approaches endorse the aestheticization of the shared political realm (because opinions and positions become public primarily through acts of personal expression). The text made me also think that framing household chores as a form of labor was a bad move.. Where can we live if everything is work? When our imagination is forced to serve politics we lose our freedom. #ॐ

[…] that the ruin is not simply the remnant left over when monumentality has withered away, and that ruination does not necessarily entail a loss, but rather a shift in the meaning and monumentality of architecture.

A new aesthetic, or more pointedly a subversion of aesthetics, is unveiled by the arbitrary processes of decay. In the dialectical image is also revealed the new ways of seeing produced by new technologies and materials. For Benjamin, it is through such violence that the present can be revealed to itself. Speer’s concern, however, is not for a specific and fleeting ‘now’, but for atemporality. The sudden presence of the present, glimpsed in the rusting reinforcing rods, is for him an unwelcome excision and framing of a moment from within a temporal continuum. Speer thus unwittingly reveals a truth crucial also to Benjamin – the temporality of a ruin is produced not only by the means of its destruction, but its original construction as well.

‘Allegories are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are in the realm of things’, he writes. Benjamin describes allegory as a form that has been progressively marginalised by the hegemony of beauty within aesthetics, an ascendancy exemplified in the aesthetic symbol.

Benjamin sees the allegorical sensibility as a means to defeat the totalising aims of symbolism; with its emphasis on transience, specificity, and the contingent world of lived experience, allegory provides a means to represent the frailty and finitude of human life.

[S]ince [Speers] ruins are designed to ‘inspire’ subjects a thousand years in the future with the same aesthetic affect he admires in the present, they are predicated on the belief that the citizens of the future will be no different from those of his own time. Tradition, for him, is based on conservation, on the perpetuation of an unchanging ideal. Benjamin’s understanding of historical subjectivity departs radically from Speer’s positivist, teleological view of history as continuous progress: the ‘allegorical mode’ allows him to express ‘the experience of a world in fragments in which the passing of time means not progress but disintegration.’

Given Benjamin’s ambivalent attitude towards destruction, there is some room for interpretation as to whether he regards the ‘destructive character’ as the positive instrument of divine violence, or some darker force. Is Speer the destructive character, or is the allegorist – read Benjamin – himself? The answer lies in the fact that for Benjamin destruction is never an end in itself, it is only ever a process required to free history from accretions of tradition and mythology.

Benjamin’s understanding of allegory as a critical strategy, a means of undermining or corrupting established traditions from within, lends it a crucial significance both to his philosophy of history and his critique of the aestheticisation of politics.

[…] Speer’s use of the ruin is ‘symbolic’ in that it aspires to the idealised, atemporal totality characteristic of Nazi Neo-Classical architecture. Allegory, for Benjamin, is not only counteraesthetic, but a counter to aesthetics and therein lies its particular strength in opposition to the ‘aestheticisation of politics’ he identified as a key characteristic of fascism.

For Benjamin, it is through the suddenness and shock of destruction that the subject emerges from the ‘dream’ of tradition and into modern life in the present. The stripping away of the ‘traces’ of tradition, the removal of ‘aura’, the sudden shock of awakening, all aspire, in Benjamin’s conception, to the emancipated state of the ‘new poverty’, where illusions are abandoned and the subject is presented to itself in the present. Ruin, both as verb and noun, process and object, thus exemplifies a mode of working and a field of possibilities for historical materialism.

The process of ruination can be applied equally to the conceptual and to the objective world. This is the true meaning of Benjamin’s statement that ‘[a]llegories are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are in the realm of things’: criticism in the name of allegory is a process of conceptually ‘ruining’ the structures of affirmative argument and then of working through the [Are white tea-cups with putin prints criticism?]

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Assisted in the video documentation of Mihail Kaluzhski’s Like it, Fake it play (or demo) at gallery Augusta. The event was a part of URB festival programme and produced by Alkovi gallery (Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa). The best part of the event was to see Henna Tanskanen perform.

Hmmm… Open-source virtual Eurorack DAW Vcvrack. Beta will launch September. There are ports of Mutable Instruments modules. Apparently Clouds is 70% ready.

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Cute short on the state of affairs between Art & Politics: Best Friends Forever (2017) by Liu Shiyuan and Kristian Mondrup.

Revisiting Greener Grass (2010) by Mari Keski-Korsu. Today the work is even more relevant.

Visited Arttu Merimaas’ Grandfather’s Leather Club exhibition at Sinne gallery. It is great. Thanks to the Cruel Radiance… course we hosted I got an updated view to his art and with this insight the exhibition felt like a warm handshake. The pieces were critically materialistic but optimistic. Instead of making crude suggestions (as seen in the Autochthonic Fantasy) he displayed queer fearytail aesthetics with faint references to public monuments in Helsinki. There were horse pictures too! After Sinne I visited Hippolyte for Pekka Niskanen & Robert Aeberhard Sounds That Shouldn’t Be There. I read it as a sacrifice on the grave of modernism.

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Autochthonic Fantasy (2016) Arttu Merimaa.

Kirjastoessee (2016) Pilvi Porkola.

Preparing for “Performance and Media” course which I’ll host next month in Kankaanpää Art School. Feeling stressed.. It’s taking a lot of time to sort out practicalities and the time would be better spend making fun art stuff (like preparing the SOW: Blacksmith ed.1).

I’ve planned that we’ll… Make six intensive workouts at the Kankaanpää gym (working with kettlebells), make 3d renderings of meditation stools (later construct them) and work with sketchup to design imaginary objects (later meditating on them). It’s a fun program to conjure but stressful to organize. At the same time I’m mentoring a group of five graduating students with their thesis related artworks. So far I’ve written 12 pages of emails and spend 63 hours on mentoring tasks and travels to Kpää (I’m using a nifty work scheduling application to measure the exact working time). I don’t think they are reading my emails and on my visit there last week I learned that half of the group hasn’t started working yet.

It takes six hours to travel to Kankaanpää by bus. It would be more practical to organize my course for an academy in Berlin etc. The travel time would be more reasonable. Still.. I enjoy the idea that somewhere there is a polytechnic university which offers free art education for people who live in the middle of nowhere. Globally it doesn’t make any sense to have an art university in Helsinki either. I should make a travel video about Kpää and show it friends visiting Helsinki. The site puts contemporary art into perspective. On a map the city is at the same level as Greenland.. It’s among the most northern universities of applied sciences offering education on performance art. I guess Tromsø is the most northern – But Norway doesn’t count because they have oil money, which makes space and time are manageable.

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They want us to use our bodies as keys. Fingerprints and iris scanners open doors.

The Cruel Radiance of What Is course came to an end. My last teaching gig was on Monday but all of the students skipped class! Only 2-4 students attended the course in general so their absence didn’t feel like a protest. People who joined the kettlebell workout were really delighted of the style of teaching I’m currently into. We met with Mikko, Miina & Arttu and two students yesterday for our final joined meeting. We ended up talking chop but the event was fun.

Visited Perfo performance event in Tampere on Thursday. Saw performances by Asko Nivala (a “failed Hannibal Lecter” / meet-is-murder cabaret), Suvi Suvereeni (a very fluid collaboration with Siri the intelligent personal assistant. A low key, personal approach to the technology yielded revelations on how the technology perceives us!), Tuuli Tuikka (an anti-art & anti-capitalism manifest on how nature and creative experiences are commodified. She shredded and packaged a flower into plastic containers) and Joulumaa (a four member noise ensemble doing a faux-ritualistic, holistic noise show. The sounds were too orchestrated for my taste and their stage work came of as flamboyant. I did get to see a 16 channel mixer being used as a percussion instrument, which is a novel sight).

After the festival I chatted with Janne Rahkila about rejoining the Perfo crew for next year. I’d continue working with the streaming system.. I’m hesitant about the gig. I don’t believe in live-video streams anymore. Perhaps I should make interviews of the artists as text and brief synopses of their performances instead. Also met with Timo Bredenberg and we had the last meeting of our “In the Flow” (Groys 2016) reading circle (some ideas in the book are useful but the authors style is too tandy).

I’m now preparing for a grant award event at the Taidehalli. I got a “The Young Artist Grant” from the Finnish Art Society. Also got a techo gig (with a workout theme) for next years Kontula Electronic. I’ll likely be joined by Kristian Ekholm (and Pietari if he finds the time. I haven’t talked about this with him yet). Also got news from Antoine that our Trans-Horse proposal for Signal festival is being processed by the production crew.

Uplifting news all around.