Stephan Sastrawidjaja
Works in London United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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Parapolitics


Hey Harry,
I appreciate your contextualisation of these practices represented in the Amsterdam show. I think Ed Fornieles and LuckyPDF's work are very attuned to the disparate networks they involve in and their particularly "stagings" on and off line. I too am interested in how they very much differ to the way artists in other parts of the world are working within the framework of the digital, particularly Fornieles and his projects on Facebook. They invite players into a role, much like an interactive online video game, and fits with a larger trend on rehashing relational aesthetics I see in a lot of younger London-based artists and collectives like Oscar Murillo and AutoItalia. It fits within the context of participation grounded in the legacy of a vibrant liberal welfare state, one unfortunately under threat at the moment with claims for austerity. I am not sure if the others respond in the same way, like for example Hannah Perry and Benedict Drew, but perhaps I am thinking more of their remaining concern of the object rather than participation in the old sense. I also don't think these ideas about networks and their relation to process and exhibition are newly embodied in this artists alone: I remember these discussions happening in 2005 in NYC with artists like Wade Guyton and Seth Price, David Joselit's essays in October, Texte zur Kunst 2007-2010, and in Beijing in 2008-9 with Cao Fei. It's not really anything new except this element of the "theatrical".

There is something very different, as you note, between Haacke and Fornieles. Haacke's installation was very aware the audience of MoMA was not the general public but a very specific museum attending audience, one which had both the deep pockets to pay admission and to be free to even go to a museum on a Tuesday afternoon. Fornieles' very interesting--albeit problematically--respond to the every growing need to participate in online networks and communities, providing with every status update and tweet, "free" content. The audience has enlarged but to the degree that as you pointed out, we in the Global North have generally switched from an industrial to a service economy.

I wonder though if we can refuse. What might it mean to say no? I think it's too easy an option. Opting out is historically a continual fantasy. To leave, to escape, sort of like the main character in Into the Wild. And yeah he died eating some poisonous mushrooms he could have Googled. Rather than become Bartleby, I would say let's keep going, but perhaps differently, knowing full well anything creative can be subsumed into capitalist production?

Best, Stephan