Losing the Battle
Ossi di seppia
sì qualche storta sillaba e secca come un ramo.
Codesto solo oggi possiamo dirti,
ciò che non siamo, ciò che non vogliamo.
"Non chiederci la parola", Eugenio Montale, 1925
just a few gnarled syllables, dry like a branch.
all I have are gnarled syllables, branch-dry.
All I can tell you now is this:
what we are not, what we do not want.
"Don’t Ask Me for Words", Eugenio Montale, 1925
που κόσμους θα σου ανοίξει,
Ίσως μια κάποια συλλαβή στρεβλή
σαν το ξερό κλαδί
Δεν έχουμε άλλο τίποτα σήμερα να σου πούμε
Μονο το τι δεν είμαστε, τι δεν επιθυμούμε.
"Μη μας ζητάς τη λέξη", Εουτζένιο Μοντάλε, 1925
»today, all that we can tell you«
»is what we are not«
»what we don't want«
Documenta tries "South"
DOCUMENTA is from "documentum", docu ("docere") stays for teach, "mens" for intellect: Teaching the World the Way to be Intellectual. When in 2014 Adam Szymczyk, announced Athens as one of the two cities that will be hosting DOCUMENTA 14, I decide to use this exhibition for the creation of MedioSud. Observing the show, its organization and its documentation, can reveal the patterns of the NORTH so thanks to the collaboration of Marina Fokidis and Adam and his team, we will be able to see how North "flattens" everything significant turning it to construction material for its WALL. A culturewall indeed, is risen to separate North from South until every last bit of South is also turned "north", until everything everywhere is either regularized or obliterated everything turned to TOTAL NORTH.From the MedioSud Manifesto: "In the NORTH, the deal between society and government has always been clear. During Fascism, society is asked to obey, during Democracy, society is asked to debate. In both cases - in the NORTH -"art" is supposed to be the authorized voice of society. Therefore, during democracy, art HAS to debate". The spectacle of Documenta 14 will be a Spectacle of Debate: once this edition is over, another one, very similar or even exactly the same, will began in some other place of the planet. Such spectacles will go on forever, unless "we" -the artists of MedioSud step in, take them in our hands and our computers, start using them and manipulating them, start destroying them.. Miltos Manetas, Bogota, Jan 2017
MEDIOSUD IN MY MIND
The idea of MedioSud
The idea of MedioSud was born when Marina Fokidis invited me to write a text for her new-born magazine South as a State of Mind. After many years spend in the North (New York/Los Angeles/London/Paris/Milan), I was living again in the South of Europe - in Rome where my daughter Alpha was just born. Looking around me, I start thinking.. "What is this place now- the mediterranean basin- after-the-Internet? After all these years -32 from when I left Greece... What's happening to my friends, my family, the various friendenemies such as Marina, everyone now crying for help as if the sky has just fallen on their heads- (the Crisis! the Crisis!)"? I knew they all had a lot of problems now, from when I left the USA-where things are easy for the privileged- I start having problems myself. Still, having recently spend a bit of time in Colombia where the crisis is permanent, I couldn't really believe that the reasons for this massive despair is just the economy. Also, having just visited Greece, I had found that the country and it's people there more interesting and alive than ever! Marina's newly founded magazine was proof of that as it was Greece's new Political Party (bearing the great nameSYRIZA) that in 2015 would become Government! From Rome, I would also looked on the rest of Europe and I suddenly a kind of new reality start becoming visible to me, a Middle South (Middle as in in "Middle East") rising! A conglomerate of places that weren't "south" no-more, still, they seam refusing to adjust into the -supposedly-perfectly functioning territory of "Total North". So I wrote for Fokidis' magazine a text titled "My Family in Middle South" and when a few months later, Salvatore Lacagnina and Rome's Swiss Institute, asked me to write about art in Rome (for their contribution to the Berlin Biennial), I also wrote a little manifesto about how I imagined Art in Middle South (L'Arte del Medio Sud).
Day with No POPE
Then-suddenly- a miracle: Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) surprised everyone by his decision to resign! As South - in Europe at least- was always depending on Christianity, I felt "blessed": a Middle-South Political Movement could start existing exactly on the day the guy would resign because on that day, the world would be left unshadowed -for a bit a least- from this Holly Father ghost! On Feb 28, 2013, myself and a few friends, introduced MedioSud at MACRO , the Contemporary Art Museum in Rome.
Summer of NO
In 2015, the SYRIZA Greek government surprised us the way Ratzinger has done two year earlier deciding to put forward a Mondial Performance by asking the Greeks if they agreed to keep being exploited by Europe's Elite by continuing borrowing money from the European Community. Their answer was NO! The EU ignored them, blackmailed SYRIZA and went on exploiting Greece. SYRIZA's Captain Alexis Tsipras choose to stay in their game instead of following the advice of his revolutionary-thinking Minister of Economy Yanis Varoufakis and getting into a frontal confrontation with European Union's bosses . During the same summer, with Greece becoming the new "hot" place to be Adam Szymczyk, a Polish friend who had started his career with an exhibition that included my work and had worked it up the ladder to finally become director of the upcoming DOCUMENTA 14, announced Athens as one of the two cities that will be hosting it.
It was during that summer, the Greek Summer of NO that I decide to use Adam and his Documenta and to start slowly building MedioSud in Greece. While I was into that, Gianis Varoufakis and his friends launched DiEM25, a Pan-European political movement that is also trying to use European Union's existing institutions to "create a "full-fledged democracy with a sovereign Parliament respecting national self-determination and sharing power with national Parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils".
Miltos Manetas, Bogota, 2017
South as a State of Mind's UNLUCKY HISTORY
"SOUTH AS A STATE OF MIND" was published by Marina Fokidis, a woman trapped between North and South. Charismatic but not-determined, courageous but not always, dedicated still spending most of her life doing "jobs", Marina always used to throw her diamonds to the dogs. She did the same with her magazine: after 5 amazingly "south" issues, she gave it to the Northerners of DOCUMENTA 14 with the illusion that once they are done with it, she"ll bring it back somehow to its original identity
ART'S HALLOWEEN: North plays South
Let me start with a brand-new NEEN theory. Its a long time now from the last time NEEN "poked" me with a theory. It's latest poke was in 2006, when I woke up one day in my little apartment in London's High Street with full consciousness of the "Existential Computing" theory, just to forget everything about it but its name at that very day! From then, I start searching for Existential Computing namely, for how we should go on with "our new strange life". But all I was given from NEEN was bits and pieces.. Only now (today, as I am writing this text), thanks to the four of you and to your DOCUMENTA 14, I can see clearly again a side of it! Indeed, I believe indeed, that this new theory I am talking about, is actually a part of the Existential Computing!
This theory doesn't have a name yet. But as its a theory of Action and Re-presentation, maybe we can call it "XenakisTheory". I remember you included something of Iannis Xenakis at your D14. He was one of my teachers and at the same time an artist and a fighter. XenakisTheory is about "What Is to be Done", the phrase that Lenin made famous after appropriating it from Nikolai Chernyshevsky's omonymous novel. With his pamphlet, Lenin insists that "Marxists should form an "vanguard" of dedicated revolutionaries to spread Marxist political ideas among the workers".
That isn't that far after all from the spirit of my XenakisTheory, considering that today, ALL of us are workers -Keyboard screen-workers. As for Marxism, that we can substitute with the ideas of MedioSud: the ideas and techniques of resistance to the expansion of Total North. I think we all agree with the fact that Total North HAS to be resisted, even if Adam and Marina are currently employed by it and also the fact that the rest three of us (Manetas/Angelidakis/Plessas) are living a parasitic life at Total North's expense.
Here is the Theory:
- Our (new strange) life is giving us today the chance to PARTECIPATE and to ACT in all kind of events, either we are chosen and invited to be part of them, either uninvited, either events are still happening or even if they are already concluded.
- We certainly can choose to participate in such events or to NOT participate, but when it comes to events that somehow include us already (because of our association with the concepts or with the actors who are generating these events), then, we DO NOT have choice: we are obliged to participate. What oblige us? The future sequence of our own life! (How can one go on living if he/she could have easily influenced the future form of his life and didn't?)
- The eternal question: "What Is to be Done"? We need to find a "NEEN" way to dedicate ourselves to the development of ventures that are closely related to our own concepts and life. Alienation from the actors and directors of such ventures, is NOT allowed, Irony is not allowed either (unless it is "Socratic"), negotiation can't be interrupted, for any reason. (You are not allowed to BLOCK someone on Facebook for example). Transparency is a MUST in all actions we may undertake, immediacy too- on cost to sometimes appear "sketchy" or "naive".. Re-construction, is the technique to recover and energize events that went all wrong (like your Documenta 14) and to turn them instead into a Perfect Past that we can use to build our Ideal Future.
Controlled and well-staged animosity/antagonism/disrespect/unfriendliness, even hostility, can be also used and encouraged. Still, we should always aim for Togetherness and never permit- neither to our collaborators, nor to our adversaries, to distance themselves from such Togetherness.
As you probably all noticed, my XenakisTheory is expressed here in a pretty Telic way.. I apologize for that, I am pretty Telic myself I suppose.. Now, coming to us and to our struggle. Angelo asked me recently if I can stop writing "all these stupid things that are criticizing Documenta 14". Clearly I CAN'T for the very simple fact that, the four of you-apart of the individual and unpredictable creatures you all are- you are also actors and -in some way- products of my imagination and of my actions.
-You Adam, you picked me for your first exhibition.. I remember you as a quite curious young man that somehow and for no particular reason, inspired trust. During the preparations for our show, we had enough time together to talk about many things , although you was very stressed for reasons that I never understood. Still, I kept a positive memory of you, also because of your very peculiar name Adam Szymczyk: it didn't sound exactly the right name for a perfect bureaucrat...
-Marina, I met you in a taxi in London, a young assistant trying to find herself in all that chaos of the 90's... I helped you as much as I could to start Marina, I even sacrificed my good relationship with the Greek artestablishment back then, to get you writing for Flash Art and to start from somewhere. During the last 20 years, you always tried to sabotage our connection (that's not a bad thing on itself, women today SHOULD question and challenge all male characters around them even if some of the men are providing the vision those women are adopting). But now, through Adam and his Documenta, you found the courage to disrespect me to such a degree that any other artist would have stop talking to you. Not me though, my "XenakisTheory" forbids it so get used to it: you want it or not, we"ll continue doing things together! Blocking me in Facebook will not help you avoiding that and I suggest you unblock me immediately!
- To Andreas I don't even need to say anything, his ideas regarding art and computation have always been my ideas and the other way also although I am not so sure we have the same appreciation of Society and our role in it.
- About Plessas, I am strictly responsible for his development as an artist and that's also why I can't digest it when Angelo is doing everything else but his (NEEN) job. On the top of it, your Documenta 14 is happening in Greece, a place that is at least as important for me as the Internet and Colombia.. Now, IF my disappointment with all of you was just personal, I could have just stay back and like a dog, start licking my wounds until I would have finally recover... IF you had put together an important exhibition, IF there was vision in it..
But there isn't any : (
Not only.. You Adam, you have engaged into transactions that are offending not only Greece but also the rest of MedioSud. By obliging the Greek artists to become represented by a real bureaucrat (Katerina Koskina), by locking them in the ridiculous Fridericianum, you did the same that Schauble and his pears did to Tsipras in 2015: you humiliated them in a global level, you throw them in misery. At the same time, you totally ignored the most urgent and emergent art of today, the art of Post-internet! If an alien will land tomorrow in Kassel, he can very well imagine that humans still inhabit this planet all alone, without networks, without computers! He"ll think that the battle for space, is only a battle for frontiers, he"ll think that art still speaks Relational Aesthetics 1.0 and NEEN never really existed! You are not even on Facebook Adam!!!!
My opinion about Marina's attitude, you all know already, she throw her SOUTH to the dogs, she let it undergo the most obnoxious face-lift! Then she hide herself behind Adam's back..
For Andreas I have nothing to say other that he did his part of Documenta 14 the way a uninspired architect would have built yet another condominium: tracing its design out of some magazine-only that Andreas traced his tank/ruins/sofa out of a magazine article about himself.. That's not enough Andreas, sorry.. There's nothing NEEN in that, the opposite, there's a lot of Telic, the worst kind of Telic..
As for Angelo- an artist so sensitive that when he finds himself in the wrong context, his art immediately disappears leaving behind only nonsense, Angelo did for DOCUMENTA 14 exactly that: nonsense. Of course all that isn't visible to the large public, especially in an exhibition that is constructed around a Parthenon of plastificated books and it includes all kind of embarrassing third-rate performances.. Still, many of us can see it clearly..
Stating all that though, I believe there's still a useful side of Documenta 14, precisely the mere quantity of Telic it has collected! Adam is after all a Nerd, collecting Telic is what he does best! These days I had to work on a text over Telic and I discovered that D14 is its best example, the epitome of Telic, at least in relation to visual arts! Then, an idea climbed on my mind: why not re-make the exhibition or at least put together a Re-presentation of it starting exactly from above critical standpoint? Something similar to what you promised to do for that African country Adam (I read that you are doing it in exchange of them paying expenses for their artists), a REPLAY..
In that we"ll be putting on parade all the Telic you have collected and we"ll be underling it/framing it/ painting on it using all kind of Neen /Post-internet and Ñewpressionist techniques. We"ll be creating an alternative version of D14 (a DocumentaPlus) hopefully similar to how your show would be looking if I was involved..
We"ll be doing this at Katerina's EMST and we"ll also invite Varoufakis to re-arrange/enhance her own ridiculous exhibition. This time we"ll give a voice to all those Greeks, we"ll be giving them the importance they deserve!
For such a show, Marina will have to make a REAL issue of South-As-a-State-of-Mind and we can even consider to symbolically burn all the useless pseudo-South issues that Documenta 14 has produced. I would be inviting the guys of DIS Magazine to curate the Post-internet side of Documenta+, after all, they are the only curators that in the last 20 years, have used a major exhibition to "show" something relevant to our New Strange Life, maybe exactly because they are NOT professional curators. I can also invite Nicolas Bourriaud to act as guest-editor of the whole DocumentaPlus' theoretical side, he knows Relational Aesthetics AND Postproduction and he is the most perfect intellectual to put all this into words.
We can start working as early as next week, Adam, just remember to finalize the buying of my ticket, let's all work together, we can!!
Greetings to all
NORTH OF SOUTH
Greeks and Europeans
We have stolen your stone
A good cappuccino at one of the many terraces of Kassel
Parthenon of Books