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The Moral Left

The political (read: economic) bankruptcy (read: extra-economic) of the Left has made a necessity of virtuousness (read: morality). What used to be the Moral Right (and under Reagan the Moral Majority) has been displaced by the Moral Left: this is everything from LBGT to the Green rights of environmentalists and… exactly where its hem begins to fray is the bruited-about Crisis of Value, in other words Crisis of Middle-Class Values. The rights of the family are of course complicated by families of nonhetero albeit heterogeneous makeup. The rights to property are complicated by rights of access, for example, of copyright to knowledge: all coming under the swelling sphere of the commons.

The point here is: the Left used to be about policy, now it is about a moral stance; while the Right has policy like an iron bar that it cannot pass.

What is hateful in this and disastrous for an oppositional, not to say critical politic, is the caving of the notion of value itself, which is now tethered to the somewhat redundant operation of capital, where so many other options of funding are now so much more readily available and applicable, new venture capitalism and entrepeneurship having become a game for the very wealthy and the very stupid. The question as to whether these are mutually irreducible categories is overtaken by the political bankruptcy and unwillingness of the Left to enter discussions at an intellectual advantage–in case it is accused of Rightwing privilege.

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Douglas Lain of Zero Books interviews Slavoj Žižek

Marx’s labour theory of value: there’s something strange about what Žižek calls Lain’s metaphor of the “good Christian boy” who wants to believe.

And there’s something strange about the circularity of Žižek’s argument, as a populist philosopher, about the horror of the Left’s reactiveness to the Right’s activation of erstwhile Leftist policy platforms for, exactly, their populism: Marine Le Pen’s stand on easier access to healthcare and greater support for pregnant mothers, for example. (But then these can be seen as what Michel Houellebecq calls “nativist” concerns (in Submission): encouraging the put-upon ‘ethnic French’ populace to up birthrates, live longer, than immigrant sectors.) Žižek is saying something when he reports the comment of a friend: now the Left moralise, where they used to politicise; and the Right politicise, where they used to moralise: immigration is a moral and humanitarian issue for the Left; it is a political opportunity that the Right exploits. … Žižek’s call for the self-criticism of ‘us’ “progressives”, what does it mean?

We should spend less time judging statements like his, that if he could have he would have voted for Trump? And more time doing what?

It might get close to Nietzsche’s critique of reactive politics and affirmation of active policy … but is stymied by Hegelian dialectic and Lacanian (inbuilt) negative disavowal, the double-negative logic of not not affirming.

What the Left could use is some Nietzsche. I used to think not, but Nietzsche’s excoriation of those who set their values on a continuum orientated towards the best cover up value judgements that are from the start moral interpretations, moralisations.

The Left’s looking for a better way than the Right is only to perform the Hegelian dialectic dance of if you go that way, than I’ll go this way.

Here’s the link to the interview. See what you think. LINK.

…as for the labour theory of value and Žižek’s call to “de-substantialise” it, isn’t this precisely what is assayed in Anti-Oedipus (along with a critique of Lacan) and A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari?

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——why?————————–why not?—————-has he not suffered enough?————-are they formation walkers?——————yes

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Responsibilty reports

The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national Systembolaget company, a concept which still works.

from here

the same kind of ‘responsibility’ or ‘ethical’ understanding standing under the Responsible Lending Code introduced by law in New Zealand this year … (see here)

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profit and loss: Bruce Barber & Milo Moiré

Bruce Barber in his lecture yesterday, given as part of the Action and Delay conference hosted by AUT, raised for me the question – what is meant by performance in the ‘art world’, and in the institution in which I currently find myself? Why, indeed, would I want to align myself with it, if, as Bruce suggested, after Gregory Sholette, the vast pyramidal-base-sized majority of artists, those engaged in performance, he seemed to intimate, preeminently, are destined to become the ‘dark matter’, their efforts and their art invisible, that holds the Ponzi scheme together and keeps it from flying apart? While a few, as few as there are Russian oligarchs, profit from the existence of an art market, succeeding as artists, at the rarefied tip of the pyramid, they would hurtle off into non-existence without the infrastructural support of curators and managers, middle-men, critics, publications, research interest, courses and conferences that the vast and overwhelming mass of those who will never accede to such heights – or such success, failing inevitably – enables, the existence of which it feeds and feeds on, as an underwater milieu and vast sea-bottom.

What is at stake in ‘performance practice’ as used in this milieu? It seems on the face of it that performance practice is the last place to think about and reflect on performance or think through what it is. Even the documentation has a tendency to collapse into or onto the practice. Whatever thinking goes in to the practice occurs before the outcome which is generically the performance itself.

My understanding of a practice is however exactly the thinking through, about and reflection on the methods, beliefs and ideas that are brought to it, to itself think, and reflect on itself. The question, ‘how does performance think?’ seems to arise less in the milieu of performance than in theatre. The difference being that the performer thinks in theatre through the practice of performance – which is what is meant by technique, acting technique. While the performance artist expresses herself in acting, in an action, intervention, interaction, all the inter-s, she does not interrogate the practice except in research or theory – the technical practice being relegated to a position outside the performance.

The performance artist does not generally have the technical means to think in performance. The performance is an outcome of thought.

How the theatre actor thinks is in the technique of making transitions between states of being in performance, during performance. This insight is due to Esa Kirkkopelto.

Milo Moiré’s performance, PlopEgg #1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKFZOIv5sS0 and at her website http://www.milomoire.com/ has the theatrical components of a technical mise-en-scène – the trestles and scaffold platforms, the canvas support for the finished Rorschach – and the strangley improvised modesty curtain behind which the performer inserts paint-filled eggs into her vagina. She has a stage-manager manoeuvre the latter at several intervals allowing her to refill. But the performance as performance according to the art-world milieu and the tenets of its self-understanding is not and could not be acted – there is only one state of being in the performance, between which the transitions are of low interest in technical terms: between Milo in performance and Milo preparing, backstage, behind the modesty curtain; between Milo pushing out eggs and Milo taking care of the business – albeit nude – of rolling and folding the paint squibs in a canvas. The canvas, it might be said, folds into the performance as its documentation. But the performance is the one repeatable action or operation of plopping eggs.

Where in this performance would there be room to think? As Bruce Barber pointed out, with the Paypal price for the uncensored version of the video at 4.99 Euros and the YouTube views at over 4 million, the thought is, how much money could Milo Moiré potentially make? The success or failure of this performance as performance rests on its reproducibility and functional iterability (this is PlopEgg #1) and statistical and quantitive considerations.

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society speaks – celebrity roast busters –

and contrary to Margaret Thatcher’s assertion that society does not exist, something seems to have stirred the ashes and provoked a moralising media Hydra. It is a monster that invokes its own monstrosity in naming those it condemns: who are horrible monsters, who leave us crying with rage, who are condemned for crimes without proof of guilt or of innocence apart from that aroused by consensus in the media. They are of course simulacral crimes waving their wands over the waste, simulacral but not fake crimes, crimes the punishment for which insists most fervidly on silencing the perpetrators, in other words, removing them from the consensus they seem to have created and erred against, banning them from participation in the society they gratify by bolstering it in its sodality as contra, as pure shared revenge, resentment, as sharing and liking sharing itself – sharing, that is, its lust to see itself in its own lights as good and just, moral and true. What happens when the monsters speak? but the monsters are chattering now all at once!

Giovanni Tiso, fellow blogger, I salute you! Psychology lecturer, Neville Robertson – who can find boys guilty of rape by intention and then aberrantly claim that outrage at the behaviour is understandable but should also be directed at “the social conditions which helped create it.” [here]

The appearance of the ministers has its wistfully ironic overtones: Police Minister Anna Tolley and Justice Minister Judith Collins simper from under their slap urging “the young female victims of the Roast Busters sex gang to find the courage to come forward and give evidence.” [here] Why? So that justice with the requisite police enforcement – and allocation of resources – can be seen to be done.

They went into it wanting fame. Now the police are advising them on their own safety. Safety from whom? well, from society, of course!

Do I hate that these young people have become a “teen rape group”? [here] No. I think there ought to be a pussy riot.

The cost of morality is however counted as the value of advertising to Radio Live (to quote in full because it fills me with hope for a backlash or a front to backlash or front lash with ermine trim – because where, after all, have shame and taste gone? – and, since I find myself in this heady parenthesis, cui bono? the girls whose honour is in question? What, in fact, about their shame? the erstwhile left whose pusillanimous outpourings have them sound more like the moral majority? What does Giovanni Tiso gain? What do I?):

ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.

It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme.

He has so far received four responses, only one of which, from Countdown, said they were retaining their contract with the station.

here

I would like to end by asking Roast Busters? ‘Roasts’ are allegedly those naughty parties exaggerated and problematised online – or otherwise ‘busted’ [here] I am aware of another kind of roast, called the Celebrity Roast.

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the punchline

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other colours

hearing Orhan Pamuk talking to Robert Harrison (link to audio) – Pamuk, the Nobel Laureate, self-confessedly conservative and superficial – superficial enough that winning the Nobel makes him happy – conservative in wanting to keep the language of Turkey ‘as it is’ – the ‘dictionary of the streets’ – and not turkify or alter it to fulfil any sort of social or political agenda – but to use the language of his mother, his grandmother, which is the same, in fact, as that you hear on the streets – I felt both let down – was it Thoreau who said writers are the worst company because they never have anything to say for themselves? – and you invite them to parties – particularly those writers who are so witty and interesting – to parties where you expect them to entertain and perform for your guests – so as, I expect, you can claim some sort of glory by association – but they sit glumly – or worse start drinking, smoking, taking drugs, behave scandalously, seduce the hostess, and the host, the children – or worse, they sit glumly – as if they’ve forgotten their scripts – as if the only words they know are written ones which they do not in fact speak – as if speech is a foreign language – company a foreign concept – perhaps they only accept your invitation because they are so lonely – or worse to perform like rutting monkeys, like smoking misanthropes, like opiated invertebrates, like inebriate self-advertisers, appetitive inverted anuses, both sucking and blowing – to act up, act out, in short – according to the major clichés and minor vices – would sitting glumly be worse? – I felt both strangely let down listening to Orhan Pamuk and more strangely slightly incensed he could call himself, his Istanbul, provincial – that Robert Harrison should accept this without question – the capital of the Ottoman empire provincial? But I then considered, after, without any consideration, being put in mind of the provincialism particular to the colonies – the torturous ennui and cultural self-deprecation – when it is not wildly self-affirmative, enhanced by social and political agenda – the horrific critical void – of New Zealand – I considered, as Pamuk suggested I should, as he did, Moscow – the capital of the glorious defunct Soviet Socialist Republic. I wondered if there is a provincialism particular to fading glory? a memorial provincialism? However it could not possibly contend – if there could ever be such a contention – with the colonial provincialism of our own green ghetto, which, contraindicatively lies in the suburbs and not in the provinces of memory. The consideration of … Moscow – can it be said of London? – of Rome? – then why especially Istanbul? – proceeded from a lower-level – a baser – resonance with Orhan’s description of the provincial experience: the cultural avidity – a need to know and find out – to extend feelers and find out what is really happening in the rest of the world – that is really happening because it is happening elsewhere: the greed for news. Music, art, magazines, criticism. But Pamuk’s provincialism is not so much a provincialism of geopolitical dimensions but of sentiment, of the dusk, of the black-and-white city, settling into winter, with long winter nights, of ruins, where little Orhan played football, in the Ottoman ruins, the wooden houses that within ten years were burnt and razed. The provincialism is of the city since the city Pamuk loves is not the one which has made his love provincial, provincialising his spirit. And I suspect this is the reason Pamuk applauded the analogy obsequious pill of a host, Harrison, made, when he said that in the piece of Orhan’s writing he liked best, which he of course had to admit, it is as if Istanbul is the writer and Nobel Laureate’s second mother, usurping the voice and role of the first, whose language, as said, Orhan wants to conserve. It is a maternal provincialism. Or perhaps the mother is always like this, a province removed from the centre – of culture, of art, of enlightened politics and social democracy? Orhan’s memorialised city or mother is in the process of rejecting exactly what it is about it, about her, Pamuk loves, of rejecting its black-and-white post-empire despondency and pushing it out to … the provinces, out onto the hem of her skirts, cutting apron-strings. The memory of baking. And he wanted to be a painter, between the years eleven to twenty-two, was it? And now it has come out, his brilliant work, a bricolage of autobiographical fragments and essays – which he had hoped one day would be in a proper work of fiction – called Other Colours. Its title testifies to the provincialism foisted on him of being mere monochrome. It reclaims the technicolour to ironic purpose – it also claims it as property – while I remember the grey Wellington of my youth, which had Models, Crafts and Hobbies and Kirkcaldies’s lights, open late only Friday nights, as puddles of colour in the wind-driven drizzle – now Istanbul and Wellington both put on – performing – like those writers earlier – acting up, acting out, simply – the economic good news in lurid technicolour smiles – the other colours, as Harrison with his practised and efficacious literalism points out, of toothpaste commercials.

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after watching Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World, I opened my Inbox, delighted to find “My Review” and news of the 55th Universal Display – (only the names have been changed to protect the individuals living and dead)

Hugo Shrimpton-Smith’s latest photo book, Shot By Shrimpton-Smith, is a gem on several levels.  The book is packed with full-page shots showing that Shrimpton-Smith, still true to his roots as a pioneer of transgressive cinema, has developed well beyond them.  The images work technically as photos, physically as soft-core eroticism, critically as comments on how that success is determined, with a well-honed sophistication that is at once sensual and cold.  The pages of quotes that open each sequence make clear that Shrimpton-Smith is acutely observant of each model’s quirks and foibles, ready to accept them in ways that put the model at ease or, in the case of the toilet shoots, allow her to be self-conscious and nervous, as well as to understand them as curious clues that reveal a larger social context, also pointed out in Mavis Cocklebury’s interview.  Yet again, Ellbogen’s Sexy Book Editor Ute Hammerstein has done an excellent job.

A crucial element that sets this book apart is what’s revealed in the DVD, with soundtracks by Maurice Throb, included inside the back cover. Shrimpton-Smith’s warm rapport with the models is striking.  Far from the grueling slogs that photo shoots are often known to be, Shrimpton-Smith makes them fun. The DVD is full of shots of models giggling, laughing, chastising mosquitoes, openly enjoying the moment as Shrimpton-Smith, an equally active participant, captures it.  Splendidly.

“What the comedy is now – it’s not like the 80s – what it is now, it’s a load of people and they all hate their electrical appliances.”

– Stewart Lee

The 55th Universal Display has arrived, and with it brings a new state of trends which are pontificated around, with a chuckle, a sense of forced opportunity and the shrugged sigh of ‘well, everyone’s doing this now apparently.’ Outsider artworks (echoing Du Plat and Feeley) are aesthetically valuable, precisely insofar as they haven’t been created for the sole purpose of critique, nor for being deliberately market-friendly (the last point is quite contentious). They are what they are. Or at least, ‘what they are’ is grouped around a deviation from the mainstream ‘norm’.

Matt Kransky, is currently studying an MPhil/PhD at Cymru University. His thesis focuses on Algorithmic Artworks, Art Formalism and Speculative Realist Ontologies, looking at digital artworks which operate as configurable units rather than networked systems, and attain independent autonomy themselves which are capable of aesthetics, rather than any supposed primary function as communicative, rational tools. The working title is Algorithm, Contingency and The Non-Human: The Aesthetics of Undecidability in Computational Art.

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on the edge of something great Gibbs Farm

And the Morgen club arrived, before the Mustang club, to Gibbs Farm – that’s right, no apostrophe – no punctuation – I’m overdoing it.

The brochure we were handed at the gate on entry before 10 am – the designated time – after which, warning-wise – the gates shut – reads:

“When Alan Gibbs bought the land now laconically known as Gibbs Farm, in 1991, he already had three decades of significant art collecting behind him.”

What an extraordinary statement! That the name is laconic and the collecting significant is the least of it. But I’m overdoing it.

The patches are from the multitude of vehicles sliding on the wet spongy grass. More and more came.

The biggest lawn I’ve seen outside Versailles. Much bigger than that. Mown. But with beasts too. First we saw sheep. Bernar Venet’s work sits on the hill. A collection of god’s dirty fingernail parings.

I love the Serra. Richard. Called Te Tuhirangi Contour no previous representative exposure prepared me for the feeling induced by bodily being near to 56 Corten steel plates 252m x 6m x 50mm. The angle of the wall is 11 degrees from the vertical, and the artist’s words have it that it “collects the volume of the land.” The mythology has it that when the work arrived, having been stacked in the hold of the ship, the plates had flattened, leaving no contour. The story continues that Serra had to replace it in its entirety.

The feeling is rather than collection – however significant – a great calm. A similar calm to entering into an expansive interior, a Gothic cathedral. Edging one’s way along the work, the wall, I touched every Corten steel plate. Warm with a calm vitality. A human volume collected, not the volume of the land?

Richard Thompson’s Untitled (Red Square / Black Square) had to wait for the busloads of kids to arrive to be brought to life. The work dates from 1994. The black to red surface transition is the best thing about it and its decisive severity.

Buffalo.

An enlargement of the Chinese miniature landscape, the brochure has Zhan Wang’s Floating Island of the Immortals serve as a landscape to look for an idealistic [sic] world of immortals. I think even immortals would slip from its shiny chrome-icecream surfaces.

Neil Dawson’s Horizons someone called the Tintin and yes this for its purely graphic imposition on the landscape, an immortal’s fallen napkin, after finishing a meal of chromium ice cream, fits. But proximity gives away the device: painted pipe and painted mesh. Materials made clever. Which I suppose is Tintinesque too.

Introducing Dismemberment, Site 1, Anish Kapoor’s telluric diaphragm, and more a joining grommet or passage than a dismemberment, so I wonder what he meant. Dismemberment connects the Kaipara with the valley in which Gibbs is laconically and significantly situated. It nestles between mown mounds and suggests a sexual prosthetic for the earth.

The sound of earthworks was constant at the Farm, echoing over the hill from the Kaipara, where a digger was at work removing mangrove, opening up swathes of waterfields. The Kaipara as waterfeature to go with the land – collected by Serra – as lawn?

Private.

The best view of Graham Bennett’s Sea / Sky Kaipara, a series of prismatic rejects from the giant glasshouse project of the the immortals, elicited the same response from all the passers-by I happened by passing: It looks temporary. Look! It’s not even tethered down properly. It seems impermanent. Are they still finding the right spot for it? (Note how forward slashes prevail in these titles.)

Anish Kapoor. Dismembering site 1. 2009.

The ellipse. A calculated surprise?

Materials, again. Mild steel tube and tensioned fabric, according to the brochure. (Mild?) (tensioned?) Running East to West, 25m x 8m at one end, 8m x 25m at the other, connected over 85m.

I want to.

Daniel Burren’s fence. Green and white. A colour mistake you wonder he didn’t wonder about fixing before it got out of hand.

Approaching Bernar Venet’s 88.5 degrees ARCx8 – tense.

Folded earthworks – lumps out of their molds. Maya Lin’s A Fold in the Field, 2013.

We realised what I was reacting to when I said I couldn’t get comfortable with this work, Bernar Venet’s. It is an uncomfortable curve. And unlike some of the others I felt nothing with or for not a poor use of colour or materials, including the use of paint, which in sculpture I am happy that time had the Greeks halt. An uncomfortable arc that god’s fingernail parings follow. No calmness here. And fingernails indeed, since there are eight of them.

The people seemed to love this work. Most wanting to have the obligatory novelty shot taken. Stand there, as if you’re holding the curve up! Or: Lie down on the oxidised steel boxing! Now smile!

I suppose a half-smile is a similarly uncomfortable curve. A sarcastic smile. Almost a sneer.

No, but these are grasping fingers. Fingers which know they have dropped Neil Dawson’s skeletal handkerchief.

The aluminium and stainless steel pipework you see in the background, these constitute Kenneth Snelson’s Easy K. A disappointing title for a sculpture that I started to like as soon as I noticed that it cranes out over the water, suspended at only a couple of points. It cantilevers.

The Mermaid, who, like Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment, Site 1 says, No fun. No climbing. No ride. Keeping itself to its own transition. This cube bridge done by Marijke de Goey inviting transgression followed the line of the hills behind in isomorphism or parallelism.

Approaching Sol LeWitt’s Pyramid (Keystone NZ) I was thinking about breezeblock. Maybe prisons. Maybe cheap housing. Maybe perm-mat housing. And basements smelling of wet concrete. Without a breeze. Blocked in. The cavities in the blocks empty as morgues. Air-morgues.

What breathes here is the play of light on the blocks. There was a pink lady watching me to see if like the kids preceding us I would dare to climb up Sol LeWitt. Pink high-viz jacket. But it’s not a pyramid of course. It’s a trapezoidal wedge.

Another colour mistake, Leon van den Eijkel’s Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape recalls the Jewish monument in Berlin. But memorialises poor aesthetic decisions, frames a nice pond, nothing much else.

Others I know did not respond to Peter Nicholls’s Rakaia, an early work for the laconic Farm, dated 1996/7, but despite its literalism, I liked it. I like the way the red has shed on the ground around the raised painted dead wood, disliking at the same time the means of elevating the braiding red-painted woodcourses.

I saw this in a well-built shed. Citroens etcetera.

The kinetic panels of Two Rectangles, Vertical Gyratory Up (V), 1987, but surely bought and installed much later, by George Rickey, stand in the middle here, before the unattributed fountain, looking still as solar receptors.

Questions about the significance of the collection remain. It’s big. The works are big. Anish Kapoor’s and Richard Serra’s and Bernar Venet’s stand out. It is assumed that this is a difficult task on the big canvas of this landscape.

But the dramas are everywhere. The caretaker ladies telling me to Jog on! as I straggled nearing the deadline for clearing the property.

The privacies all over asked for. The absence of entries and crossings despite the works inviting both entries and crossings.

Perhaps this is why Serra’s barricade wins: it doesn’t so much collect the volume of the land as bar both entry and crossing. It snakes and makes private and isolate exactly nothing more than is on the other side.

I see I haven’t mentioned or recorded in image Jeff Thomson’s corro giraffe, Len Lye’s Wind Wand – looking like an aetiolated 80s lamp from a rape-free zone – or Andy Goldsworthy’s Arches. The last we looked down on from the hills, hearing the digger returning to mud and water the littorals of the Kaipara.

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