Re: question to ganahlmarx Q5

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Posted by rainer ganahl on December 11, 2000 at 11:35:35:

In Reply to: question to ganahlmarx Q5 posted by Craig Martin on December 11, 2000 at 07:24:04:

: Dear Rainer,

: I appreciate your comments on my last question. My question as to a non-space (utopia) was not an affirmation of the potential for this.

: I think one of the most interesting aspects to your project is its manifestation under the frame of art. This, like any other form of production can act as an interface between, in your case, reading and action. This is something which obviously happened in the historical moment of Conceptual art, with the early Analytic Conceptual Art (Kosuth, A&L, Bochner etc.) leading onto an 'engaged' Synthetic Conceptual Art (Adrian Piper, Cildo Meireles, Tuchaman Burns etc.).

: In this sense, could your own work be described as a vehicle for leading the participants to some form of activism? Also, would the legacy of a pedagogical structure such as the Soviet Workers Clubs be another artistic and social precedent?

Rainer Ganahl:
As I mentioned earlier on, these art-historical precedents only gained my serious interest after having started with my own readings seminars as part of my art works. Opposite of these conceptual artists I take the resulting documentation as a standard format for my art production but without diminishing the social and community creating aspects of the reading. The photographs, actually rather beautiful pictures of people reading and discussing – a tradition I might ironically even trace back to Rodin’s famous sculptures, - are somehow the scotomized by-products but are taken very seriously by me. The insertion of these resulting photographs as fine art is a very important aspect of my enterprise as an artist since it challenges standards of what is considered “art”. The pictures, once accepted by a larger community – something which is definitely not the case while I am writing this – will always carry as their index the reference to a critical practice and a radical change oriented political thinking.

The question of whether this reading commitments lead to some kind of activism is more complicated than it appears since we would need to define first what we understand as activism. Reading, thinking, arguing and discussing ideas of a better and more just society under certain conditions and contexts is for me activism as well. I hope it will change something in people’s live. But whether it means, that they will go and actively fight for a more just society with rather typical instruments of political struggle: I don’t know.

But isn’t a better understanding of social, economic, ideological, political and cultural struggle for hegemony helping us to define our daily life practice under ordinary and extra-ordinary conditions? I don’t want to water down the term activism but to a certain degree just to read, write, say and express certain things, do art or just to “be” without consuming, without fitting in properly can also be some kind of “activism” that has a price – a price that under really repressive situations can be very high – if the degree of annoyance and embarrassment to a given unjust power-system and the provoked repercussions may be some kind of measure for critical activism.

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