This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on the works page.
Parisian artist Claire Fontaine is a fraud, a forgery, her name casually lifted from a generic brand of school notebooks, her existence only present in the art that bears her signature. She was first brought to life in 2004 by Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill, art-world refugees of a stripe that has become increasingly common these days. She resides now in the neon gas, the video pixels, the found objects, the paper, the ink and the many languages that constitute her work. Where an ordinary object, say a urinal or a bottle rack, can become a readymade piece of art simply on account of the artist’s saying it’s so, Claire functions as a “readymade artist” to render this very artistic subjectivity in a more critical light. Along the way, she subverts the totality of contemporary art by plagiarizing its most sacred styles and forms.
Claire is attuned chiefly to what appears possible, and to what impossibly appears, as cast against the heavily policed image of the present. When given the opportunity to work, Claire would “prefer not to,” which speaks less to her keeping her hands clean than to her potent desire to restore conditions for a general strike.
She has a long list of influences. Most directly, her inspiration springs from the radical feminization of the Italian Autonomist movement in the late 1970s. Her philosophical roots are planted firmly in the revolutionary political theories of Jacques Rancière, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault. Her artistic allies include the ironically subversive Bernadette Corporation and the anti-political writing collective Tiqqun.
This interview began concurrently with Claire Fontaine’s visit to Columbus, Ohio in the Fall of 2009 for “Descent To Revolution,” a group exhibit combining urban installation with public demonstration, curated by James Voorhies for the Bureau for Open Culture. Claire had two major contributions. The first was a solar-powered neon sign installed in downtown Columbus that cycled between the words “WARM” and “WAR.” The second was a multimedia lecture-performance on libidinal economy and human strike that focused on the bodies of women as site of political, social, and aesthetic contestation in Berlusconi’s Italy. Continue reading ““Giving Shape to Painful Things”: An Interview with Claire Fontaine”
According to a level 5 prisoner participating in the hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) there are forty-eight (48) prisoners who have refused nine meals and should be officially recognized as on hunger strike. Warden Bobby has not returned calls requesting information about the hunger strike.
Neither the politics of persuasion nor a presentation of facts. (The forms of rhetoric used by republikans and demokrats, respectively.) Rather, we propose insinuation as our form of political communication. Insinuation does not build the party, it spreads like a virus that mutates as it interacts with every new host. It brings about revolutions, yet not a revolution patterned after the swift seizure of the state, but a path that follows the strange drift of aesthetic revolutions — sometimes sudden, and at other times, a slow drift.
By persuasion we mean the art of bringing someone to your side. In our world, the lines in the sand disappeared long ago. There are friends, enemies, allies, and foes inside every one of us. Some paranoiacs try to draw lines for the rest of us to follow, but the result is always the same: infighting descends and people start striking too close to home. Persuaders are Southern Gentlemen still fighting for the Glory of the South, or soldiers forgotten in the Pacific.
Alternately, with the presentation of facts we mean the naive believe that the truth sets you free. We curse the worn motto ‘speak truth to power.’ For, the question is not why truth works but why illusion is so effective. Cynically, we think that truth-speakers desire being right over being effective. Some of us may have been know-it-alls as kids, but now we are more pleased with winning than living in a world of sour grapes.
Next installment: Nuts and bolts of insinuation.
Additional resources? Down the Rabbit-Hole, Alice!