DIE REGIERUNG ALS
Für den Bau von Palästen und Stadien
Wird viel Geld ausgegeben. Die Regierung
Gleicht darin einem jungen Künstler, der
Den Hunger nicht scheut, wenn es gilt,
Seinen Namen berühmt zu machen. Allterdings
Ist der Hunger, den die Regierung nicht scheut
Der Hunger der andern, nämlich
Gleich dem Künstler
Verfügt die Regierung über allerhand übernatürliche
Ohne daß man ihr etwas sagt
Weiß sie alles. Was sie kann
Hat sie nicht gelernt. Sie hat
Nichts gelernt. Ihre Bildung
Ist eher mangelhaft, jedoch zauberhafterweise
Ist die fähig, bei allem mitzureden, alles zu bestimmen
Auch was sie nicht versteht.
Ein Künstler kann bekanntlich dumm sein und doch
Ein großer Künstler sein. Auch darin
Gleicht die Regierung dem Künstler. Wie man von Rembrandt
Daß er nicht anders gemalt hätte, ohne Hände geboren,
so kann man
Auch von der Regierung sagen, sie würde
Ohne Kopf geboren, nicht anders regieren.
Erstaunlich beim Künstler
Ist die Erfindungsgabe. Wenn man der Regierung zuhört
Bei ihren Schilderungen der Zustände, sagt man
Wie sie erfindet! Für die Wirtschaft
Hat der Künstler nur Verachtung übrig, ganz so auch
Verachtet die Regierung bekanntlich die Wirtschaft.
Hat sie einige reiche Gönner. Und wie jeder Künstler
Lebt sie davon, daß sie
Sich Geld pumpt.
Bertolt Brecht, aus: Deutsche Satiren
lot of money is spent on building
and stadiums. In doing so, government
like a young painter, who is not afraid
hunger, if this is what he should do
celebrate his name. In any case,
hunger that the government does not fear
the hunger of others ,of the
government possesses various supernatural powers,
although it is told nothing,
knows everything. What government can do,
government has not learned.. It has not learned
Its education is actually
an yet it can take part
every discussion and determine everything.
the things it knows nothing about.
artist, as it is well-known, can be stupid and still
a great artist. In this as well
government is like an artist. What is said about Rembrandt,
he would not have painted differently even if he had
been born without hands,
also be said about
government, that it would not rule differently
if it were born without a head.
amazes us in an artist is his
When we hear the government
the present situation, we simply say
it has imagination. An artist can only show
for the economy and it is well-known
the government detests the economy as well. Of course,
government has a few prosperous patrons, and like every
to wangle the money.
Brecht, from the German Satires]
new Lenin has yet to be studied in the East - in English
of course, and in the same package with Lacan, Badiou
and Negri, the Documenta,
all of the Biennales.
Buden, Re-Reading Benjamin's
"Author as Producer" in the post-communist
happened to me some years ago was the typical anecdote
concerning the relations between the West and the East:
my left-oriented Belgian friends were astonished to hear
how books in Socialist Federative Republic Yugoslavia
used to be sold by the yard, and how working people used
to buy books, with the assistance of salesmen, by the
yard and more of blue, yellow, green – or of some
other nuances that would fit with the 'rest' of the
carpets and curtains at home. Hearing this, one of my
friends concluded straight away: "The
books were, of course, the speeches of Tito and the
Party". I had to disappoint him: "The
books were, of course, Dostoevsky, Stendhal, Zola…"
this happened, of course, before the post-cold war era
of cultural studies and visual arts exhibitions dedicated
to Karl Marx, Carlo Giuliani, and Tito's partisans of
which Boris Buden writes recently in his extremely humorous
which is the reason why my progress-oriented Belgium
friend has not read Lenin yet: "In
order for a victory to be total and final we need to
seize everything of worth from capitalism, the entire
science and culture. And how do we do that? We will
have to learn their school, the school of our enemies."
Lénine T XXIX, pg. 66-72.
the last book that Vladimir Ilich read two days before
his death, in January 1924., was Jack London's collection
of stories "The Love of his Life", named after
one of the stories in the book. Lenin's wife, Nadezda
Krupskaja describes, after Lenin had died, the interest
of the dying man for "the beautiful story about
a man and a wolf in the ice desert in which the exhausted
man tries to reach the river, and while trying, he becomes
involved in the battle of life and death". Ripped
and half-blind, the man is succeeding to win over the
starving wolf, to win over his death itself. He reaches
his aim. Impressed, Lenin asked Nadezda for more reading.
However, the story that followed ,suitably titled
"Accommodation for one Day", a mixture
of bourgeois morality and a trivial plot based on a
hot love triangle (man-wife-lover) that takes place
under the ice tent in an ice desert "received only
Lenin's frowning and waving of his hand in dissatisfaction".
That was his last contact with "culture".
Even 100 years later,
within a global political context that has noticeably
changed from the Bolshevik's time, the aforementioned
note can be interesting in two ways: firstly, it reflects
the need of the genuine revolutionary to read (bourgeois-)
literature, which demonstrates the still actual and
intriguing issue concerning the relation of art (ideology)
The second reason will be more analyzed in the text
that follows; it pertains to the question of how during
the galloping triumph of the bourgeois ideology today,
and with abundance of 'radical, left-oriented, active'
political praxes on the other hand, is still even possible
to produce art as an act of rebellion, non-acceptance,
break OR crash. And if this is possible, what kind of
art it would be. Let's us stick for a moment with the
metaphor of Lenin's favorite book. The art that for
its subject has a portrait of a future revolutionary
(the story about the man and a wolf), in which the power
of man's bare hands and will triumphs over the cruel
reality and makes "the impossible" possible?
Or should it be, contrary to cruel reality, the escape
art of new 'nomadism'
(1001 fictions destinated to the contemporary exploited
subject being ready for consoling self-oblivion: ethno
and no-border mithology, rave; ecology, fashion, gender,
alter-mondialism, alter-tourism i.e. all types of transgressive
realism?) Let's immediately start with the hypothesis
that this second type of art, the art that creates its
effect by the waving of a dying hand (of the father
of revolution) as a reply to a superfluous act, would
be exactly the type of art despised by the contemporary
progressive, commonly called, "radical artist".
is left to be done for us is to keep on questioning
this 'second type of art', type that Alain Badiou, witout
fear of tendency, defines through his 15 theses
of contemporary art as 'non-imperial'.
art, according to Badiou, "should not be democratic
if democracy implies accordance with the imperialist
idea of political freedom", it has to be "surprising
as an ambush in the night, and elevated as a star";
"as rigorous as a mathematical demonstration";
capable of "rendering visible to everyone, the
visible that, according to the Empire (and so by extension
according to everyone, though from a different point
of view), doesn't exist".
thesis no.15 represents a kind of universal instruction
of Badiou's Affirmation manifest (of the new) art: "It
is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention
of formal ways of rendering 'visible' that Empire already
recognizes as existent".
with the urgent need of making room for new practices
of (re)presentation, for the beginning even applied
to art, let us try to see what the possible practical
limits of the aforementioned theoretical approach
The play "Holes or When We Were Not Aligned", in whose creation
the author of this text took part , recently opened
in Belgrade and Brussels. The play was made between
2001 and 2005 as a joint project of one collective,
one company from Brussels, two Belgian National Theatres
and the National Theatre (Opera/Ballet) from Belgrade.
Conceived as a radical theatre act, the play gathered
refugees, internally displaced persons, the Roma (employed
in communal services, that is, the Roma with no secondary
school education and those who are trying to continue
their education), the unemployed, the deported civilians,
representatives of missing and kidnapped persons committees,
former army members and civilian participants in the
wars that took place in ex-Yugoslavia, in one word,
the play gathered the INVISIBLES, erased individuals
of one system, as well as professional actors, singers,
dancers and designers. What preceded the creative process
itself was the precise attempt of locating the subjects
that could symbolize large(r) potential exclusion (from
all States and societies), and not the logic of casting.
In this way, "misery competitiveness", which
would contribute to aestheticizing the misery itself,
was avoided. The slogan of the un-existing cast ( considering
the invisibles) was "anyone or everyone who …".
The work methodology – from our point of view
– was based on the following:
work with the invisibles, and not work in the name of them
subjects are talking from the places from which the
others are talking usualy about them (public
presentation spaces, the
of documentary material through poetical procedure
poetical procedure as precondition of universality
poetical procedure as a precondition for distancing the
subject from his/her particular, personal,
"private" conditions and circumstances
opening the situation representing singular exclusion
that stands for the narrative situation that is
potential for everyone (placed in the same life
the attempt of rigorous universality that stands for
for EVERYONE (based on the statements that can
be created or verified by everyone)
questioning of the consensus and communication limits
conscious questioning of the limits postulated by the
Schengen politics of exclusivity (while keeping in mind
that Brussels's premiere perhaps represents the only
possibility for some of the participants to obtain a
Schengen visa, that is, the only possibility to reach
the other side of Schengen's barricades)
conscious questioning of the (re)presentation limits (the
attempt of presenting the un-presentable, showing of the
without need for a great rationalization, created in
a period of more and more radical restrictions of every
thinking differing from the 'logic of human rights'
and abstract multiculturalism, the aforementioned play
was an attempt of presentation of an emancipatory act
par excellence in which, differently from the epochs
of representative, parliamentary democracies, "the
victims are talking themselves", the space and
the image are given to the INVISIBLES, the ones who
in the eyes of government (Empire) do not exist. The
victims are helped by the professionals ("the specialists"
in Lenin's terminology) to (re)present what cannot be
presentable, that is, to (re)present their traumatic
political exclusions, allowing to the actors on the
stage while representing them, that is, while acting
them, while making them visible, to be "thought",
there, in front of everybody, from the same invisibles
as the only "specialists" for giving indications
about their "life roles".
this way, in the scene where an actress plays a refugee
driving in a city bus, and a refugee herself performs
"unpleasant look" that reminds her of her
everyday (refugee) status, the actress (found in an
impossible situation, trying to act a
refugee to a refugee), exclaims at one moment: "I
can't, I want to go out of this role!". The
Chorus, which in Ancient Greek tragedy has the status
of truth and in "Holes" has the status of
universal, collective tie of different particular experiences
of exclusion, replies:
"It is easy to leave the stage, but how to leave the role given to
you over and over again by the State(s)?"
to this question, the author of this text has not found
an answer, not even after the "radical artistic
to the transmission of consensus-based, "democratic"
processes onto the work process itself (which means
that one should never agree on essential issues!), to
the attempt of equalizing the statuses of "professional"
and "non-professional" participants in the
play (under the circumstances where the this claim,
even in its basic form – that is, basic equality
de facto, and de iure as well – is not even close
to the solution!), and, as a final concern, to the colossal
problem in the functionality, economy and the selection
of priorities and the place of utterance of both "equal"
partners (the "visible and the invisible"),
the project soon faced insoluble internal contradictions.
contexts of participants, including the presence of
numerous and diverse "maecenas": complex,
slow and "non-questionable" logic of massive
(state) institutions vs. to a mobile, maneuverable -
"for every field" suitable, although for this
project non-functional (poor) disposition of the authors'
partners, all of the aforementioned added to the internal
contradictions during the play preparation. At last
but not at least, it is important to mention the risky
fact that no (institutional ) continuity of any kind
of work with the "INVISIBLES" was provided
and possible after the premieres.
the subject of our analysis, as mentioned, is not the
functionality of an artistic "radical (theatrical)
act", but questioning of the effects
that art in general – and especially the self-proclaimed
"active, radical" art – has in the present "Zeitgeist".
from the special position of the theatre which is by
nature directly dependent on the State (its historical
maecena), the subject of analysis are also today's endless
attempts to directly support "the case of the excluded
" through independent
films and videos
(work with "non-professionals), happenings, installations, numerous
exhibitions of "social" photographs or sociologized
here we come to the place from where we have the best
view of the problem that we would like to point out.
Is not all art and especially the kind of art that deals
with the excluded, the invisibles, those who do not
exist for Empire and the State, actually the confirmation
of their non-existence, but from a different position,
from the position of art as an ideological state apparatus?
Marcel Duchamp's well-known example, let us once again
try to confirm the validity of the thesis that art (any
art, including the "progressive" one) owes the
materiality of its status directly to the State.
from the assumption that a work of art does not have any
substance by itself, or that it owes its substance to
another kind of materiality, the materiality of an
ideological apparatus, Duchamp exhibited a pissoir in a
gallery and "proved" that anything can be a
work of art.
other words, what Duchamp proved is that the truth of
an artwork is not contained in the artwork or that an
artwork does not exist without the materiality of the
ideological apparatus (here a gallery). The raw presence
of an object (ready-made) actually proves the absence
of the artwork, or the reality of simulation.
that sense, it becomes clearly visible that the substance
of art, or that which makes a work of art a work of
art, in our case, what makes a pissoir a work of art,
is the effect of the ideological state apparatus in
its materiality. This also means that what we call a
work of art can only gain its materiality in the ideological
state apparatus, that which Althusser would call "a
cultural, ideological state apparatus, SIA (literature,
art, sports etc.)".
we turn this thesis upside down, we may say that it
is not the pissoir that does not belong in the gallery,
or that the pissoir is not in the right place, but that
the gallery itself is not in its right place.
fact, the pissoir does not bring into question its place
in the gallery but the place of the gallery itself.
it not true, then, that Duchamp's experiment proved
that ideology has material existence and that, strictly
speaking, the state determines the very being of art,
that art owes its being to the state, or
that there is no art outside the state.
there a following formula underlying Duchamp's
experiment as its final result: Every art is state art
and every artist is a state artist.
conclusion of this stenographic inquiry, that surely
leads to a more detailed analysis, is that radical
political act, which establishes a new order, is
opposite to the traditional act of art.
question is not whether there is to be or not to be
art, but where the struggle that the (engaged) art announces
and other forms of art ignore, should take place ?
us repeat, this time with Badiou: "It is not certain
that there is a clear artistic solution, nor that there
has ever been such a solution to the problem of art.
One of the reasons for today's difficulties in art is
the incredible fragility of invention in contemporary
danger of turning those excluded from society ,the invisibles,
subjects that contemporary- "radical"
art temporarily includes in its apparatus (for as long
as an exhibition, performance or a film is displayed
or shown) after other ideological state apparatuses
have taken care to exclude them, is only one side of
the problem. The other side is that it is not the ready-made
or the invisibles that do not belong in the theatre,
it is the theatre that is "out of place".
Lenin determined the real place of "culture,"
as mentioned in the introduction to this text. "Culture"
is on the other interest side; we learn from it, we
participate in it, however knowing its limits and restrictions
and with no aspirations to radicalize what cannot be
Chekhov was trying to find a new kind of ending in literature
(apart from death, departure and marriage), we say that
the question of beginning
is the real question of any change today; not the
beginning of new art but the beginning of a struggle
from the point of excluded and the struggle with them.
The invention of new forms of solidarity with the excluded,
the creation of new spaces for the politics of emancipation
and politics by the people is the question of art outside
art, outside the State, which, contrary to parliamentarism
(defined as the art of the possible) is "the art
of the impossible."
Translation: Zorana Mladenovic and Danica Dimitrijevic