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Visited Aruna D’Souza’s talk Writing in the Reparative Mode (video link) at the 8th floor. The event was organized by the The New School. She offered a road-map on how she developed from an academician into an art-writer and art critic. D’Souza became disillusioned by the academia after witnessing numerous race related scandals which the organizations failed to respond to. After leaving university, she felt that Facebook helped her to develop as a writer. Posting on her wall felt like brainstorming and gave her the opportunity to pose questions instead of re-affirming what is already known (I really dislike her emphasis on Facebook and Instagram as “real venues for art writing”, because the technology is based on exclusion).

She invited the audience to think about “reparative criticism” which is an attempt to compensate for the injustices which effect the decedents of the enslaved. In the beginning she started to “write as a student”, which means she wants to understand an artwork on the artworks own terms (I’m weirdly reminded by the self-reflectionism of minimal art). Her writing is “drawing attention” to works which teach her how to be “an ethical and political citizen of this fraud moment in history” (D’Souza acknowledges this as signal-boosting). She is also constantly learning to talk about her own failures. “Our culture is weakened by peoples inability to apologize”. She refers to her writing concerning a Jimmie Durham exhibition, in which she downplayed the critique stirred up by Durham’s claims of Native Ancestry (More on the topic by Sheila Regan). After she re-freshened her opinion on Durham (after learning about the topic trough the debate), her act was seen of as opportunism (changing sides) instead of rethinking and apologizing.

In D’Souzas view art writing is primarily made for the white gaze. Art writing excludes the subjectivity of the artist (and the critic). When writing for the black-gaze, she is more sensitive when talking about race and politics. There are benefits too: Some key concepts such as “the existence of structural violence, “the consent of white fragility” and “the weaponized use of white tears” do not need explaining. She invites writers to “punch up” in their critiques and not to be afraid “name names” of people who are responsible for oppressive acts. She wants to name people so that we will not talk “around the problems of institutional racism” (I find this troubling. Naming people feels like vain punishment and I find it hard to imagine how it will help in changing structures). This process has made her friends, peers and audiences feel uneasy.

She wants to center on the voice of the protesters, instead on the “voice of analysis”. This approach has helped her to understand “the protest as a site” which gives some artists (who are excluded by institutions) the only opportunity to engage with the art world. Her starting point is that freedom of speech is not a universal value but a relationship. In her own words she is “not writing good art history” but “writing good something-else”. She points out that all art criticism is “advocacy” and the majority of contemporary art criticism is “advocacy of the supremacy of white male artists”. D’Souza is currently working on a book which is called “Against Empathy”. A critique of the individual affect, at the center of political transformation (in a manner which de-centers collective action). Her argument that “There is no aesthetic understanding, unless there is structural understanding” feels heroic but coming from a new-materialistic, Marxist point of view it feels old.

Our proposal (with Ilari) to have the publication on land- and environmental art conservation co-published by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Fine Art Academy of Helsinki was excepted and the book will be out this spring! I’ve been busy editing my text for it. Currently re-reading Entropy Made Visible (1973) and Entropy And The New Monuments (1966) by Robert Smithson. Revisited Dia: Beacon to make photocopies of Moira Roth’s interview of the artist found in Eugenie Tsai’s book Robert Smithson (2004). Feeling like a ghetto scholar (I’m literally stealing knowledge to make ends meet).

I got into the interview phase for the Doctoral Studies Programme in Artistic Research in Performing Arts at the Theater Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. I felt that I couldn’t reply adequately to the questions: Why I want to conduct my research in the framework of the Theater Academy and what its my relationship to performance studies. I mumbled something about, public craft fairs being transparent process of the production of commodity value. I wanted to say that I see performance a material deposit of located behavior, squeezed into acts by the design and affordances which places offer.

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The most important text written by a person of Finnish origins in years (possibly ever).  Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note (2018) Linus Torvalds.

My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

To tie this all back to the actual 4.19-rc4 release (no, really, this _is_ related!) I actually think that 4.19 is looking fairly good, things have gotten to the “calm” period of the release cycle, and I’ve talked to Greg to ask him if he’d mind finishing up 4.19 for me, so that I can take a break, and try to at least fix my own behavior.

I need to take a break to get help on how to behave differently and fix some issues in my tooling and workflow.

And yes, some of it might be “just” tooling. Maybe I can get an email filter in place so at when I send email with curse-words, they just won’t go out. Because hey, I’m a big believer in tools, and at least _some_ problems going forward might be improved with simple automation.

I know when I really look “myself in the mirror” it will be clear it’s not the only change that has to happen, but hey… You can send me suggestions in email.

We visited Magazzino and Dia: Beacon last week with the ISCP crew. Both sites were spectacular and the trip led to an observation.

At a glance the supermarkets in New York seem to have absolutely everything. The shelves are jampacked with cans, boxes and soft plastic bags – But when one investigates them closely it’s apparent that the shelves are empty. An entire isle can boast a spectacular variety of cans, dressed in different colors and ornamented with different brands but if inspected, they are all the same product. All of the cans have beans in them. Supermarkets house a phantom of variety.

Dia: Beacon exhibition felt the same. When I entered the space I was confronted with 20 meters of Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tubes. At first it felt spectacular. But I felt an eerie stab as I realized that they were all the same art piece. I tried to think of this as a form of critique, but after witnessing the same logic applied to nearly every other artist in the exhibition, it became clear that the function of the site was to celebrate abundances, masses and superstructures which facilitate the production of clones. Minimalist artworks in the Dia: Bacon setting came off as a clone army of proto-zombie formalistic stuff. This was not a disappointing experiences, on the contrary: It felt like strolling past colorful isles at Macy’s. It’s relaxing to see stuff.

Learned about David Hammons’ Pissed Off (1981). A bright sight, sabotage is the way forward. More on the performance Stop And Piss: David Hammons’ Pissed Off (2013).

I had an intensive week. I’m editing my PhD proposal, applying for additional funding for Trans-Horse and met with Lisa Le Feuvre from the Holt/Smithson foundation (concerning Land- and Environmental Art Conservation). Prepared a 4k video of our work on Up and Under (1998) from the still photos I shot in 2013.

 

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Finally completed a lengthy article about my experience of working as Environmental- / Land Art Conservator for the Strata project in Pinsiö 2013. I worked in a team tasked to restore Up and Under (1998) by Nancy Holt and The Tree Mountain by Agnes Denes (1996).  A big part of that text is an analysis of the controversy caused by Spiral Jetty conservation efforts. The text is currently being reviewed by Mustekala.org and if it passes I might translate parts of it into English too. I should craft it into a zine too…

I contacted Dia foundation in New York and offered to prepare a presentation about the the work we did for the environmental artworks commissioned by Strata.  They haven’t replied yet. Attempted to open a dialogue with contemporary art conservators at Kiasma too but they haven’t replied either. They must get a lot of contact requests from Environmental- / Land Art Conservator’s around the world.

Finnish Cultural Institute in New York is trying to arrange a meeting with the NYPD mounted police unit for me. We drafted a long letter together and I hope it’ll open a dialogue with them. I’ll start the visa application process tomorrow.