SPRING MEETING 2020, 11 - 19 April: Intercessors, ventriloquists, thieves, anon. On Art’s Divestment of the Self

Today, Mladen Stilinović’s artwork stating, “an artist who cannot speak English is no artist” could just as easily be rephrased as: “an artist who cannot speak about their own work is no artist”. Is there a more exploited genre and pronoun among artists than speaking in first person singular?

For SpringMeeting 2020 we would like to approach what is singular as already multiple, to reimagine the individual through mediation. We would like to question origin, identity and ownership in the act of directing attention instead to intercesseurs, mediators and intermediaries, to true and falsifying personae and to collective or common agencies.

Against two decisive factors of the art market today – the compulsion to speak of one’s own work, and performance of one’s own brand-name – we would like to inquire into other possible articulations of personhood, authorship, ownership, agency, milieu, transindividuation and production that do not begin with nominal identity, that do not start with or return to “I/Me”.

An example. “Intercesseurs” (mediators) was the word Gilles Deleuze used to portray his collaboration with Félix Guattari:

“Mediators are fundamental. Creation’s all about mediators. Without them nothing happens. They can be people ... but things too, even plants or animals ... Whether they’re real or imaginary, animate or inanimate, you have to form your mediators. It’s a series. If you’re not in some series, even a completely imaginary one, you’re lost. I need my mediators to express myself, and they’d never express themselves without me: you’re always working in a group, even when you seem to be on your own… There’s no truth that doesn’t ‘falsify’ established ideas. To say that ‘truth is created’ implies ... a series of falsifications.”

There are many more terms that could apply apart from intercession: intervention, interlocution, translation, appropriation, forgery, ventriloquy, bastardization, theft. There is an abundance of modes in which artists produce, collaborate, distribute subjectivities and present work. Collectivity or group work might also be an opaque façade that conceals and protects political strategies and undercover operations.

If our point of departure is not the individual but the common, then we must look into what we share at a level prior to or beyond the personal – language, modes of production and cooperation, sensory apparatuses and habits, and history. While we do not want to affirm dehistoricization, we recognize good reasons for its contestation that point to canons and canonization. In a canonical culture relations between artists serve to cement significance. Canonical artists are often those who are centers of influence or those whose networks include other canonical figures. What ways are there to be in dialogue with and through others, which does not further secure the position of the self in the canon?

Art occurs, regardless of whether it resembles the canon of autonomous, functionless, exceptional, single-authored, manifestations of the artist’s will. Some occurrences might be found in invisibility, refusal, collectivity, name changes, shifting the locus of art making and thus its legibility as such. In a time of over-investment in the self as commodity and an aggressive disinvestment in collective resources and services – in order that we can all have the privilege of loneliness – how to choose the group every time, above and beyond the impoverished and impoverishing path of atomization?

The problems posed here seem ill-suited to individual inquiry. The world is neither neat nor kind. One’s interiority cannot present an innocent starting point or refuge of the beautiful soul. For SpringMeeting 2020 we do not want to think only about single author-artists, but also to dedicate time to those who make the work possible but remain in the shadow: performers, assistants, translators, and so on. The author has long been declared dead, but shared authorship remains rare. Theaters, museums and other institutions demand unequivocally delineated individuals who guarantee for their products.

For SM2020, we want to devote time to the dependent, non-sovereign, subjected forms of making art and thought. We are specifically interested in working methods that say no to “working alone”. And we are also interested in artists speaking about the work of others in which they recognize something they themselves could not do. This is not about denying individual responsibility: one’s individual actions matter as they materialize the world. So, we ask: What can we learn from art’s investment in the divestment of the self?

The price is 18€ per night per bed if you stay more than 5 nights, otherwise, it is 20€ per night. Other expenses include a 12€ annual membership and 12€ per day for three meals prepared in our exquisite kitchen. There will be an excellent team of cooks who will need help from all of us. We can only accept payments in cash or French cheques, so bring it along (there is an ATM in the village).

PAF gets very full these days, sometimes overly, so book early, we’d like you to be there.

From the organizers,

Bojana Cvejić, Eleanor Ivory Weber, Nikhil Vettukattil, Stefan Govaart

Reservations at: contactpaf@gmail.com.

Guests:

The Abounaddara collective brings together filmmakers who make their films anonymously. Founded in 2010 in Damascus, Syria, the collective has produced numerous films, mainly short documentaries, celebrating the daily lives of the nameless. At the same time, Abounaddara has led a critical reflection on the right to the image, calling for it to be refounded on the principle of human dignity, and not exclusively on the property rights or the right to privacy, which has been the case since the inception of photography. Abounaddara's work has been presented in film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival, amongst others; as well as in contemporary art exhibitions, including the 56th Venice Biennale and documenta 14.

Eszter Salamon is an artist, choreographer and performer who lives between Berlin and Paris. Since 2014, she has been working on a series that seeks to rethink the idea of monument and engage in speculative history-making. In these works, presented in theatres and museum spaces, memory is created to counter phantasms of identity, authenticity and origin. By exploring how bodies are vectors of the circulation and transformation of meaning, these performative monuments invest in creating trans-national, trans-historical and trans-generational narrations. They are practice-based and develop empirical methodologies for producing knowledge away from dominant narratives.

Jackie Karuti is an artist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her practice is largely experimental and employs the use of new media through drawings, video, installations and performance art. Her work is founded on ideas around knowledge production and accessibility, as well as the depths of possibility enabled by radical imagination. Karuti is an alumnus of Àsìkò, a roaming Pan-African art school established by the late Bisi Silva, designed to redress the frequently outdated or non-existent artistic and curatorial curricula at tertiary institutions across Africa. Karuti’s work has been exhibited widely, most recently at Lofoten International Art Festival (2019) in Svolvær, Norway, and at the Dak’Art Biennial (2018) in Dakar, Senegal. Other projects that respond to her practice include programming the Out Film Festival in Nairobi (2016-2018) and her online workspace I’ve been working on some MAGIC.

Soprano Juliet Fraser has a repertoire dominated by the very old and the very new. She regularly appears as a guest soloist with contemporary music ensembles Musikfabrik, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, Plus-Minus and Talea. She is also a core member of EXAUDI vocal ensemble, which she co-founded with composer/conductor James Weeks in 2002. Juliet is an active commissioner of new music and has worked particularly closely with composers Rebecca Saunders, Matthew Shlomowitz, Cassandra Miller and Michael Finnissy. Increasingly in demand as a speaker, she has written several papers reflecting particularly on issues around agency and authorship in collaborative partnerships. Her discography includes Morton Feldman’s Three Voices, Bernhard Lang’s The Cold Trip, part 2, a binaural recording of Milton Babbitt’s Philomel, portrait discs of Cassandra Miller and Frank Denyer, and Gesualdo madrigals with EXAUDI. A new CD of solo works written for her by Lisa Illean, Sivan Eldar, Nomi Epstein and Lawrence Dunn has just been released on the HCR label. Juliet is co-director with Mark Knoop and Newton Armstrong of all that dust, a new label for new music, and founder and artistic director of the eavesdropping series in London.

Oxana Timofeeva is a Professor at the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the European University at Saint Petersburg, member of the artistic collective Chto Delat? (What is to be done?), a deputy editor of the journal Stasis, and the author of the books The History of Animals (Maastricht: Jan van Eyck, 2012; Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2017; London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) and Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2009).

Vanessa Place was the first poet to perform in the Whitney Biennial; a content advisory was posted. Performance venues include The Getty Villa (Los Angeles); European Parliament (Brussels); Museum of Modern Art (New York); Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles); Garage Museum (Moscow); and Whitechapel Gallery (London). Place also works as a criminal defense attorney representing indigent sex offenders on appeal. Her work frequently uses law as an aesthetic medium and criminality as poetry to sometimes uncomfortably revolve around representations of American ideologies of subjectivity, including those of gender, race and class.