M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online #1
The premise was that there always is a dominant power and independence from it is always desirable for the person who wants to exercise her or his creative freedom. The sub-premise was that critical observation is the necessary foundation and the companion instrument of independent action. These are modern concepts.
But the proprietary claims of the Left over resistance and other attendant ideas have been cracked. The concepts and tactics of the Left are appropriated by groups or individuals with other, often opposite agendas. For instance, Timothy McVeigh, the mass murderer of Oklahoma City, could say that he is an activist of resistance.
The General and
In fact, in the culture of post-deprivation societies, most of the referential systems many of us still dream of relying upon have been mashed and pulped in a medley of options characterized by ephemeral shifts of value. The mistake is in looking for the general. Resistance itself, like so many other modern ideas, might have become too generic a concept for our day.
If we want to be attentive we must pay attention to the specific moment, the specific place, the temporary situation we are facing or perhaps producing.
She and he calculate, measure and double-guess their art's compatibility with the rigid rules of the distribution of art, which dictate that art should be packaged in novelty and product-recognition or name-recognition, regardless of the esthetics or ideology represented in it.
Parallels can be seen in other fields. Many musical artists gauge their songs to fit the CD publishers™ format. In the publicity of films, independence has become an artistic formula as much as dependence--just think of the phenomenon of the "indie" movies: they are now seen as possessing a typical style of their own. Accessibility has become a mere variable of inaccessibility. Activism has become just another facet of what's possible, as valuable as escapism.
Some friends tell me that, in the same manner as during the times of old the artist was obliged to submit to the dictates of priest and queen, now s/he must submit to the dictates of the market.
Consumer culture, this latest phase of capitalism, consumes ideas, people and thoughts in a rapid turnover. Everything goes out of fashion every 4 months, even critical resistance. But then, because resistance is now a periodized concept, it might be ripe for a revival in the same way as a seventies song can be electronically re-tooled to fit today's radio broadcast formats.
Lucio Pozzi was born in 1935 in Milan, Italy. A US citizen, he lives in New York. These are his main exhibitions for 2002: Museum of New Art, Detroit; William Paterson University of New Jersey; Kalamazoo Institute of Art, MI; Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He currently is an instructor at the MFA and BFA programs of the School of Visual Arts, in New York.