A lengthy article which offers an approach to the conservative and nationalistic agendas of some European countries. Explaining Eastern Europe (2019) Stephen Holmes & Ivan Krastev. Interestingly a the amount of immigration from Romania to the west (from 2007 onwards) is larger in volume then the amount of refugees arriving to Europe from Syria (from 2015 onwards).
For two decades after 1989, the political philosophy of post-communist central and eastern Europe could be summarized in a single imperative: imitate the West! The process was called by different names – democratization, liberalization, enlargement, convergence, integration, Europeanization – but the goal pursued by post-communist reformers was simple. They wished their countries to become ‘normal’, which meant like the West.
In 1989, central and eastern Europeans were not dreaming of some perfect world that had never existed. They were longing for a ‘normal life’ in a ‘normal country.’ […] What they meant by ‘normality’ was the West.
The ultimate revenge of the central and eastern European populists against western liberalism is not merely to reject the ‘imitation imperative’, but to invert it. We are the real Europeans, Orbán and Kaczyński claim, and if the West wants to save itself, it will have to imitate the East.
A very spesific collection of articles on toxins and sex. Queering chemicals (EDCs): A bibliography (2019) Alex Zahara. The collection has texts by familiar names such as Heather Davis and links to interesting concepts such as eco-normativity. Serpil Oppermanns Toxic Bodies and Alien Agencies – Ecocritical perspectives on ecological others (2017) seems interesting.
Visited The 8th Floor Waste Time: Breakdown, Decay, and Regeneration at Freshkills Park panel discussion yesterday. The event was moderated by Dylan Gauthier and we heard presentations by Mariel Villeré, Audrey Snyder & Joe Riley and Antonio Serna. The event was hosted in the same space as the the Sedimentations: Assemblage as Social Repair exhibition. I got to see Waste Flow (1978-1984) & Sanman Speaks (1977-1985) by Mierle Laderman Ukeles. She was present in nearly every frame of Sanman Speaks, wore a clean uniform and talked politely how underappreciated the sanitation workers are. The workers felt like performers.
The panel discussion was about artworks and processes that are being conducted in the framework of the Freshkills Park R/D residency program. The Fresh Kills Landfill (1948-2001) is being transformed into a public park and Villeré is organizing an artistic research program on site, which all of the panelists were involved with. Artist duo Snyder & Riley were interested where NYCs’ trash is currently being placed. They discovered over fifty separate sites and had visited 38 locations, were the trash of the city is being transported. This process of distribution or “displacement of trash” was identified as a coverup: When contemporary trash is sent far away, hidden into multiple different sites, the problems that it causes become difficult to identify. They called their practice “anti-disciplinary” which feels fun and identified the Freshkills Park in its current state as a “negative commons” because it is for the public but not currently accessible (and ultimately toxic).
There weren’t a lot of discussions or audience questions. The event did succeed in presenting the landfill as a complex site and to problematize the role of art in the land reclamation process. Art multi-complexifies discussions concerning the site and makes addressing the core issue concerning pollution more difficult. Art feels like a coverup for a simple realization: People are wasteful and they should not consume as much. The rich pollute more than the poor and the poor have to live with the toxic.
I’m rediscovering Toxic Progeny: The Plastisphere and Other Queer Futures (2015) Heather Davis.
At the same time I decide to use a canvas shopping bag in Helsinki, ten people who just moved to New York, use two plastic bags for every five items they purchase (in our local shop bags are reinforced with bags). The approach Heather Davis offers (in The Queer Futurity of Plastic, 2016) is the only way forward. We have to learn to digest plastic or surrender our environment to creatures that can. People who repair sneakers will be our best guides in developing futuristic queer-plastic-knowhow. Recycling is a fashion (not a praxis), a way to stand out or start conversations… Nothing more. Using pallets to build furniture is crazy. The most sustainable life-style is to have no-life-style. The amount of free stuff on craigslist is incredible.
Concerning scales: A lot of things that don’t make sense in Helsinki, make sense in New York City. Like wireless headphones and smartwatches (many people I meet here have either or). In Helsinki seeing wireless headphones is rare, they are a luxury product. Their wirelessness does not add value. In NYC removing the 20 second hassle of opening a headphone cord knot, ads just enough value to justify the purchase. The same applies to smartwatches (they provide information on the current time, social relations and navigation).
People seem to play music all the time (it’s the only personal space they can afford).
Stonewall: The birth of gay power by Sherry Wolf. A very interesting text looking at the violent history of LGBT+ movement in US (the act of “coming out” on the street is political).
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Visited Theater Academy Dance department solo-demo evening by invitation of Matilda. The night included eight pieces in an almost 5 hour long potpourri.
Aino Purhoses “Never place a body in another body of water” was a solid start. She invited the audience to plant their feet in buckets of water while she played with water using various containers. The most striking moment was when she power-stirred plain water using a blender and then touched the moving water in the blender with her hand and face. I felt connected to her through my wet feet. She sang an improvised tune and curled inside an inflatable children’s water pool.
Riikka Laurilehto performed a piece which was framed with the text “Most of the materials used in this performance are not mine. It’s just another hybrid”. She worked with plastic toys, wore a jaguar bodysuit and sang. A Kaoss Pad 2 was used as an effect (Delay 29 spotted!). A humorous piece which felt inspired by The Queer Futurity of Plastic (2014) by Heather Davis.
Both of the pieces mentioned here were very similar to standard performance art pieces (single concept gestures, 20min and light hearted self-exposure to emphasize with). But as the artists were brilliant and fit dancer bodies everything looked a tad too perfect. The rest of the pieces were more standard contemporary dance (floorwork, tremors, intensive gazes and everyday choreography performed in an acrobatic manner).
Matilda’s piece was one of the best ones. She positioned the audience inside black squares which had been drawn on the floor using tape. Then she started with a warm up in semi-darkness (which looked elegant, lamps reflected reddish hues). After this she performed small breathing movements for the audience from inside a smaller black square. She was in an intimate relationship with her movements and we were invited to participate in her relationship to the movements – This relationship was the dance. I guess that the statement of the piece was: There is movement. Which is important.
Watching young dancers perform was a great way to tap into how young artists position themselves in regards to theory. Laurilehtos and Purhoses pieces felt like physical illustrations of new materialism and anthropogenic thinking. Because they have grown up with these theories (as artists), they know them well enough to play with their personal relationship to them. Their pieces were not about the-end-of-the-world but their relationship to allegations about the-end-of-the-world. This kind of relationship is often analysed as an ironic stance.. But I think they were just trying to be humans despite of theory.
Mikko accidentally recommended a really interesting lecture about plastics and petrocapitalism by Heather Davis The Queer Futurity of Plastic (2014).