By this report I would review the seeming-to-be-ordinary bourgeois art event from the prospective of the psychic (art) worker and to try to identify what is dead and what is living in the case of [self] organization by the highly individualized persons. The dead (or at least reactionary and counter-productive) elements I will present as Zone of Bourgeois Development (ZBD) while living (or on the edge to be born) will be reviewed under the rubric of the Zone of Proletarian Development (ZPD) – a method which I borrowed from Mastaneh Shah-Shuja‘s study.
Before starting I want simply to confess that before arriving to Uruguay I was cached by some emanation of eurocentrist tendencies which I found of my interests to investigate while being in this country. But when arrived and during all my staying there I was shocked about the measures of European influences on this relatively small country – I found easily recognizable traces, hints, failures, divergences, impositions almost in every step I did in this far southern country. And in the very beginning I want to clarify that the object of my critique is not the incredibly nice and lovely people, but rather the situation, which is rooted globally, so the addressee is much wider then just few dozens people involved in this and other Hotel De Inmigrantes (HDI) projects worldwide.
Zone of Bourgeois Development
One of the biggest sins of bourgeois society is it‘s Organizational Dualism. HDI event from the very embryo was manifesting this dualism of the “high concept“ and nothing-in-relation having the realization of typical contemporary art show. The theoretical part of Uruguay version of the HDI represents exactly the same tendency: the main object of the artists gathering was production of the contemporary art show. The artists came prepared with their ideas for the show, brought the works (or executed it at place) and so realized the show. The making of art actually was a factor which alienated the participants (with few exceptions) instead of letting them to do things collectively. The show was arranged for the bourgeois public which attended the opening – so fostering a dualism of the spectacle and its consumer. Therefore artists got into a dualism of their own living conditions (“pure as immigrants“) and as specialists to produce the show. Dualism was established in the very nature of the art production so far mostly works hold symbolic-representative thinking. And finally project in Montevideo was realized (rather it happened quite spontaneously) in a very dualist manner – one space was designed as “serious“ museum exposition of atomized units (“bourgeois“), while the courtyard was more vivid, playful, messy, (inter)communicative (“proletarian“).
Fetishism is another big issue in bourgeoisification of the human relations and particularly prevalent in the arts. Besides fixed fetishism, which is inseparable from the production of the artwork and institution of arts itself, there I found much more important to discuss fetishization-as-process. The later is connected to the playing of particular role of the artist in the society. Differently from European way to hide those aspects under superficial rituals of „democratic procedures“or just slight ignoring of clear labeling, here in Uruguay and particularly in the exhibition in Rocha we faced very simple escalation of the big scale and high quality photos of artists combined with small fetishes called their artworks with labels holding artists names and which country they came from. DAMTP decided to slightly revert the process leading towards dismembering and dissolving into relationships between mere things – it proposed collectively to sand the shiny surfaces of the photos and so giving back the proletarian standing for everybody to decide (whether his/her photo would be defaced or not – thank you, Alberto for joining the initiative!) and/or to imagine (how it could be inverted – thank you, Jae Woo, for shaping Alberto‘s face into Eistein‘s!).
Once the relationships of the artists‘organization at HDI got fetishized, the process of the making the show got reified, the whole event got infused with magical notions and (artificial) community degenerated into religiosity with features of sentimentality and mysticism – that is evident from the texts with the impressions written by the participants of the event immediately after their return home.
Zone of Proletarian Development
In previous section I demarcated a bourgeois zone where praxis and creativity is reduced only in self sufficient representation of atomisation while in this section I want to draw out the contour of alternative mode of organizing based on proletarian interests as I succeed to grasp during my stay in Montevideo event of Hotel de Inmigrantes.
Joint-dialectical activity is one of the essential features of proletarian development. This exactly through dialectics that ZPD overcomes dualism that besets in ZBD. The relationship between subject, object and tool in ZBD could be described as idealistic (subject is idealized as autonomous, the tool is neutral and the object is easily attainable - McLuhan) or cynical (the tool is demonized and dominates the passive and helpless subject thus making attainability of object impossible – Marcuse). Both cases foster the dualist subject-object relationship. Dialectical activity supersedes the limitation of idealist and cynical paradigms by positing the individual simultaneously as the subject-tool-object of the activity (Marx). Here the tools have history and they act both as instruments of agency and the result of activity. Definitely it was not a dominating feature during our stay in HDI, but some moments could be highlighted. There was a joint travel in the truck through the city of Montevideo with the excuse of Martin‘s wish collectively to watch the stars of Southern Cross (which actually were not discernible because of the street lights). Everybody enjoyed collective discomfort while the main conceptual point was slightly different and later degeneration of this experience into photographed fetish to be exhibited was a step backwards to ZBD. Another joint activity sparkled very spontaneously when Christan and I started to look for any tool to open a wine bottle. He used an ordinary wood-screw first, but to take out the cork by hand was not doable for neither of us. Then we tried to apply whatsoever things we were able to find in Martha‘s house near Rocha. Non of the tools was used according it‘s purpose, but we slowly were progressing in the field of imagination. We were already very close to open the bottle when somebody brought a bottle screw, but we refused from it and continued on invention – what lead finally to the fulfillment of the task... I do not remember the taste of the wine – that was not so interesting anymore, but I still remember the whole arsenal of the various tools for many years unused and some hardly discernible metal or wooden parts of some things – it was clear that it was used for similar cases as we did with the opening of the bottle. We joined the long proletarian history of the tools which were indiscernible from subject and object.
The DAMTP contribution for the HDI was to spread the declarations executed with cleaning materials directly on the walls of the museum with approach towards the [cleaning] workers, who would clean it after the show is over. The solidarity with the workers means that their work is of bigger importance and has genuine meaning compeering with artistic simulations what the museum is designed for and the workers are conformed for. It was the switch from symbolic or detached [typical for ZBD] meaning towards the real one of the value of labor [inseparable from ZPD].
The strength of proletarian development lies on heterogeneity by recognizing multiplicity, diversity, dissidence, doubt and criticism. It’s a cooperative, plural, anti-centrist, anti-corporatist, anti-racist, anti-sexist dimensions. This dimension was evidently lacking in other HDI events and particularly in that, arranged in Hasselt. But really the composition of the participants was diverse just formally looking at the geography of their countries of residence and/or origin. Mostly the participants were connected to the contemporary art specialization of specialized non specialists and more or less voluntary following the rules of the art world behavior. The step towards heterogeneity was curatorial decision not to exclude DAMTP from the project after the announcement of its real intentions (in Hasselt nobody asked for initial intentions in advance of attending the event – the organizers of the art events are so cynical that they even do not imagine, that somebody would refuse to do an artwork). DAMTP did an attempt to broaden the heterogeneity of HDI by inviting for a drink during the opening ceremony the homeless people and close near-by residing pure people (mostly black people) in seemingly illegal housings. Those people were happy to be invited and promised to come – thanks for Federico who was incredible speaker and interpreter for DAMTP. Unfortunately none of those people came... might be because of guards at the gate and at the museum door...or might be due to other reasons. So the ritual of the typical bourgeois opening did happen without improvisations.
During the HDI in Montevideo DAMTP did meet with Branko - one of 70 Serbian workers, who got trapped in Uruguay since May 2013, because company Montes del Plata refused to comply with what was signed with the workers. The problem what their case opened wide up is that there doesn‘t work properly neither the workers‘syndicate, nor the juridical system, nor the Press in this country. And the immigrant workers still are treated like slaves.
One of the significant additions towards the heterogeneity of the HDI in Montevideo was Diana‘s continuous connection with local child-woman ghost Clarita. But instead of emphasizing too much on Diana‘s work (it was tending towards accepting the ghost-girl to ZBD so she could finally reconcile with it) and I would like to point out the Clarita‘s proletarian position in approach towards Diana‘s reconciliation with ZPD – not sure who of them was stronger, but it could be that both stayed on their own sides finally.
While during the HDI event Dead Workers Union at DAMTP had contacted with Charrúa‘s ghosts and it finally resulted in disappearance of the national flag from the Museum Blannes roof pole. So far DAMTP can inform it was not a symbolic act neither revenge – Charrúa people just doesn‘t like flags and it was already too long time that flags are present on their land. This was an act of disappearance, the act of invisibility, the act of silence. DAMTP is looking forward to develop the animist revolution through-out all over the world. From this point of view we are not Indians, Dagmara. Neither are those we are used them to call so. It‘s time to face the hollowness of the concept of identity so typical for eurocentric supremacist point of view. We, white people, are not equal to those whom we oppressed – this is a long way still to do [for us of course]... and not in the symbolic and alienated from reality fields of arts.
Another characteristic of ZPD I want here to discuss is the carnivalesque. It‘s important to note it in a context of the art event that the main difference between the spectacle (of repression) and carnivalesque (of resistance) as those two polarities exactly point towards analogically ZBD and ZPD. As DAMTP already attempted in HDI Hasselt event the production of industrial amounts of jokes took over the “serious“ organizational issues and paved the road towards improvisation and imagination… and angriness of the organizers. I am really happy to confirm that Montevideo HDI issue was marked with tones of jokes which actually dominated the whole organizational structure. That was a highlight. It was funny that we together with Martin and Charlie had elaborated the triolectical structure of the joking where each of us worked-out some particular character which we were developing through years: Charlie was a caricature of artist, me – a caricature of rebel and Martin – a caricature of martyr.
I cannot elide mentioning of candombe – the mostly carnivalesque element of Uruguay which survived through ages till now and still powerful tool in the hands of people of African descend. It‘s important that it exists as an everyday practice – every week on Thursday to Sunday at 6PM drum players are gathering in the particular streets, starting to play slightly moving through the streets and everybody is welcome to dance in the streets slightly moving in front of the drummers. I was told it is a rehearsal for the annual carnival. The later I‘ve not seen live, but as I got an impression it‘s turning more towards the spectacle while everyday practicing of candombe remains true ZPD and preserves the collective power.
There is where I want to turn on another important issue of social organization – that of empowerment. The typical case of empowerment in the Zone of Bourgeois Development (the art organization is a relevant example for it) is trapped within individualist framework which includes mastery and control instead of empowering cooperation and community. I found the development of this feature in the structure of HDI organization in Montevideo a crucial one. From organizational point of view the organizers (Kike) focused on the human dimension of the people as community, instead of invited individual “mastery“ demonstrating “stars”. The issues of control and atomization of participants which was really dominating at the very embryo of the event were gradually suppressed. Of course, this HDI event definitely cannot pretend for being ZPD so far the main task was typical for bourgeois society – self emancipation at any costs, while the point is to create the society where the workers – paid, unpaid, made-up, invisible and the dead ones – to be emancipated. I am looking forward for the future developments of the HDI towards the Zone of Proletarian Development, where power-over will be replaced with power-to. There would be done with further separation of doing from done, doers from means of doing, meaning with the sense. I hope for the day when we will turn away from the spectacle of repression and will enter the carnivalesque of resistance – the resistance to our own limitations.
DAta Miners & Travailleurs Psychique - DAMTP
DAMTP REPORT ON HDI URUGUAY AND FURTHER PROSPECTIVE OF HDI DEVELOPMENT
- Written by DAMTP