More whinemaking, fussnummering,
belletristic palaver from your friendly neighbourhood propagandists,
witches and shin-kickers. By Tessa Laird, with help from Gwynneth
Porter, Marc and Robby Herbst,
Mark von Schlegell, Chris Kraus,
Mat Gleason, Daniel Malone,
and Daniel J. Martinez.
Marc and Robbie Herbst, founders of the
Journal of Aesthetics and Protest
We came to the magazine with the exuberance of speech.
Art is a broadcast of all sorts of energy. Pirate Radio was
our initiation into media.
Flipping the switch to your $300 transmitter or turning on the
light for the opening night of your exhibit, you realize that
the hegemony that established institutions have over communication
is as much a result of lack of competition as anything else.
When first painting the mysterious ether, your voice is present
in rarefied air and becomes very powerful - there is a picture
where there were jumbles of static. Piercing the illusion of
the specialist, part of you always needs to share this magic.
When you meet other DJs, you have things to talk about, for
you are all conscientious objectors to an illusion that speech
is maintained by others for you - "pass the mike will you?"
Finally, and because you have no clue who is listening, you
approach your audience differently. Your show is driven by your
heart in conversation with friends and other DJs; your audience
is organized in a political campaign to connect words to sites
We refuse the defeatist attitude regarding the role of art in
society. If another world is possible, it will be artists and
activists who realize the vision and make it happen.
Most of our lives, we moved between the activist and art worlds,
unaware of the distinctions that divide these discourses - freedom
to speculate being a hallmark of both cliques. It’s silly
that these two cliques don't hang out together - they are both
involved in revealing visions that must be grasped with gloves
that are not manufactured by the hegemony. The magazine is involved
in developing "deep critiques" at once relating with
the hegemony and simultaneously aware of its specter. Aesthetics
and protest are not oppositions; they are necessary compliments.
Ask a propagandist or a witch, formlessness doesn't communicate
The magazine is a conversation among friends and communities,
it is a chance to formalize conversations and ideas that are
floating around. Artists often privatize their creations so
as to protect their property, activists hide their words in
safety, yet a movement needs a memory of what was thought. It
needs a place that gives people the space to speak out about
problems and solutions.
Editor, Coagula, Los Angeles
Criticism in art is like an umpire in baseball. The difference
is that in the art world nobody wants anyone to have the final
word, there is nobody, not the head of a museum or the greatest
artist who is allowed to be the final word on anything. There
are more structures set up in the art world to prevent a critic
from articulating and codifying a position than all the other
Why did you set up Coagula, and how it has been received
over the years? Have you made lots of enemies? Is it worth it?
What do you think the L.A. art scene has gained from Coagula?
It was meant to be an underground newspaper for the art world
and as that it has succeeded. It has been received pretty well
by people who are frustrated with the academies & hierarchies
and despised by the people who aspire to be let into the Church
of Art. It is worth it as a writer to have people read what
I write, it has made me money. The L.A. art scene has gained
a voice, mine I guess, although I have opened it up to lots
of different voices. It is a forum in that way. Something for
people to know that just because it exists, someone who is powerful
may be getting kicked in the shins.
Daniel J. Martinez
Artist, Los Angeles
[Recently in Mexico]
Nothing is true, everything is possible ---Nietzsche
Recently, at a lab in Cambridge, a physicist, aided by a computer,
captured light and then released it. I began to wonder if Genesis
would be less miraculous if "Let There Be Light and Darkness"
could be replicated by intelligent machines? Light is precious,
essential for life - from photosynthesis to epiphanous moments
in the presence of the beautiful. When we wanted to name the
time when we abandoned superstition and embraced rationality,
we called it The En-light-enment. Perhaps human beings are responding
to the great shift from the industrial machine to the intelligent
machine by abandoning the principles of Enlightenment. Is the
return to religious fundamentalism - whether manifested as the
Jihad, the Falun Gong, the Faith-Based Government, or Madonna
embracing Kabbalah - really a symptom of a collective yearning
for a pre-rational innocence/ignorance? In our heart of hearts,
do we long for the time when the earth was the center of the
universe, when the Grand Inquisitor told us the one truth, and
when the boundaries of the known world were visible from our
Do you remember in "Measure of a Man" that one of
the issues that would decide whether Data would live or die
was whether he had a soul? Are we afraid of these intelligent
machines because we wonder if they will possess a soul, or more
likely, suspect that they might? The Bible says that man was
given dominion over the earth and all that was present at creation.
It gives us no answers regarding life forms we create ourselves.
Plato/Neo wants me to leave the cave. I hesitate because I have
always relied on the guidance of the wise. I wait for those
to lead me. Unfortunately, they are otherwise occupied searching
for meaning among the relics.
Artists made art about social issues and concerns in a fever
of utopian bliss - today we will transform the world. Okay,
I romanticize. We won some, we lost more. But the question remains,
where do we evolve from there?
If humanity has decided to face evolution by turning backward,
there will at least be fewer tourists in the way when we see
the first glimpse of the future.
1 Bear in mind that October was itself
a product of a schism - being the brainchild of those cultural
critics who found Artforum too commercial. Buchloh, despite
the fact that he gets published by Artforum, rallies against
them in this discussion. A further schism took place early on
in October’s history, when Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, one of
the founders, split away.
2 Monica was a pre-Lewinsky “chicks
with big-mouths” art magazine, for which our only criterion
was that the criticism be readable and opinionated (we could
well have stipulated “belletristic”). To be fair,
it wasn’t just dry academia we were rallying against,
but the dire stupidity of all arts-related coverage in the mass
media that we felt compelled to counter. We published 6 issues
before I launched LOG Illustrated, a tri-annual broadsheet which
lasted for 15 issues and can still be read at: http://www.physicsroom.org.nz/log/
3 Interestingly enough, in October’s
Round Table discussion, which took place in December 2001 in
New York City, not one of the critics present referred to the
events of September 11, or the aftermath and its effect on freedom
of speech. That the art world is completely divorced from world
at large could not be better illustrated than this bizarre omission
(and I don’t believe it was a deliberate tactic to “carry
on as usual,” I think that the art world really does operate
from this extremely rarefied remove). This seems extremely ironic
given the origin of October’s name in revolutionary aesthetics,
and the magazine’s supposed bent towards sustained politico-theoretical
reflection. And while academics spent their precious time and
intellect worrying that the ogre of Dave Hickey would straddle
their skyscapes like a paunchy Colossus, the US government was
stolen away by forces far more ubiquitous and sinister…
4 I think of my husband who sits on his computer
all day every day, waging his own “information war”
(www.fusionanomaly.net). His version of bushido is to saturate
himself and everything he touches with information – which
becomes its own virus shield – a bullshit deflector.
5 “The Rebel Sell”: http://www.rabble.ca/everyones_a_critic.shtml
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