The tension in the moment before speaking up—
The tension before the door knock—
The tension of knowing if action is worthwhile—
I wonder if this is the fundamental tension in activism.
Finally came across an interesting example of positive energy art. Michel had a proposal to set up a station (well, that was more my proposal I suppose) that lets men record examples of sexual harassment and sexism. I think there is something strong there in the notion of creating a space for forgiveness and allowing a negative energy act (secrecy) become a positive energy act (acceptance, confession, forgiveness, accountability).
I think what is interesting here is that it does not require community building or organizing and that the crux of the positive energy is that it creates a space to transmute negative energy to positive energy.
In the context of masculinity – there is something necessary here that creates a space for healing that is true and frightening in order to prevent future behavior.
It does feel like sometimes the point and purpose of good art activism — Tania's stuff — is stopping something from where it wants to go. Power always has a destination and it is important to figure out ways to divert it from its path.
Politics seems fundamentally interesting and effectively driven by the intersection of culture, law and capital. I'm wondering if there has been a lot of discussion around this, which would be interesting, but at the least it gives me the primary levers of how to think through problems of political timing specific art. Tania's work is so focused on culture, but I think she tends to think less about law and capital, though. That's not a problem – focusing on the culture part is incredibly powerful and doesn't limit the work in any way.
But I think that there are new solutions that can deploy capital and law and most of my recent proposals for Tania will focus on that. The other thing that is important to think through with capital is to make sure that it doesn't focus entirely on financial forms of capital – the non-financial forms of capital are often more interesting to think about and I suspect the way power maintains power.
The interplay of culture and aesthetics is where activist art seems to to get tangled up. She talks about aesthetics in her book of interviews, but I find how she uses the term not entirely accurate — I see aesthetics as a subset of culture. It's fundamentally a cultural expression with perhaps a tiny bit of biology thrown in. Tania is aware of this, pointing out how activist art gets reduced to bad aesthetics – and I think the problem she is seeing is that much of it is bad aesthetics but that she is trying to move past that into culture.
Personally I know about law the least and am less interested in it than capital but I sense it can be far more powerful in deployment of political timing specific art because it so unexamined, even more than capital. It's such a dumb-shit move that everyone is obsessed with capital and barely understands it in art ("late-stage capitalism", etc.) but possibly even dumber of me to ignore law and what I can do with it.
Found a new way to bring positive energy into things via the Yael Bartana work Summer Camp.
Summer Camp | www.li-ma.nl