volume 1, issue 2
1 2 )
The deferred temporality and deranged argumentation we encounter in
Boom! frustrates not only the hypothetical subject of neoliberalism,
but also the identificatory plenitude expected by certain modes of
left politics, such as those we have just mentioned. The latter stress
"direct action" as the central values protest art should
visually illustrate and literally enact. But this emphasis on the
"now" of the demonstration risks overshadowing the possibility
that artistic techniques might be capable of articulating analyses,
demands, and positions that go beyond the reductive moral dramaturgy
of demonized executives pitted against populist, life-affirming revelers.
This is the proposition ventured by Thorne and Ressler, although the
artists by no means claim for Boom! the status of a superior or exemplary
What do these (admittedly unscientific) anecdotes
suggest about the status of Boom! as a committed, productivist intervention?
From one perspective, they confirm the entrenchedness of certain norms
regarding "good" and "bad" protest art and the
aesthetic conservatism of groups cautious not to distract from the
specificity and urgency of their demands. And after all, who are independent
conceptual artists such as Thorne and Ressler to challenge such strategic
conservatism? Would it not be more "effective" for artists
to put themselves directly at the service of the "community"
Boom! is clearly intended as a Brechtian interruption of the normal "plot" of protest-art, creating a situation that "is not brought home to the spectator but distanced from him." Yet Thorne and Ressler do not pursue this as an end in of itself, an obscurantist gesture that could only be the symptom of nihilism, sadism, or elitism. Their productivist desire to 'intervene actively' is sincere, if critical. As an experimental aesthetico-political undertaking that aspires to use-value in the project of a democratic globalization, Boom! may evolve in response to the needs and desires of others within the movement, which is not to say that it will be dictated by them or content to serve as their self-satisfying mirror-image.