Prelude (edited)

This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on the works page.

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A Prelude to Escape

This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on the works page.

“Giving Shape to Painful Things”: An Interview with Claire Fontaine

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”

Leading By Example, or, the power of a good example

Brian Massumi suggests in the introduction to his 2002 book “Parables For The Virtual” that the most Bergsonian form of argumentation follows from an “exemplary method,” by which he means supporting an argument through an example. There are three major arguments, which, while not stated explicitly, forms the subterranean structure by which Massumi makes his case for the example: singularity, detail, and connectability.

Continue reading “Leading By Example, or, the power of a good example”

Lines in the Sand

Replacing power/knowledge, I suggest the tripartite lines of rigid-supple-escape developed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus.  In their anti-essentialist ontology, Deleuze and Guattari posit that heterogeneous collections of elements come together in particular relations to form assemblages, contingent formations that produce certain effects.  Capitalism, for instance, is an assemblage.  One way to describe how assemblages are organized is by the lines that compose them.  For Deleuze and Guattari, there are three types of organizing lines: supple lines, rigid lines, and lines of flight.  Continue reading “Lines in the Sand”

Power: Breaking the Liberal Domination-Resistance Paradigm

Theories of power previous to Foucault were largely based in terms of sovereign or juridical power – roughly equivalent to the dynastic power of the monarch and the legal power of the social contract.  The sovereign view of power imagines power as an original right held by the king to which the subject responds.  As the state form emerged, power arrangements were recast according to a social contract that posits citizen-subjects that are afforded a minor autonomy that both limits and authorizes the power of government.  While most political and social theory is stuck within these two types of power, Foucault emphasized two forms of power that he argues have displaced the importance of sovereign and juridical power: disciplinary power and biopower.  Continue reading “Power: Breaking the Liberal Domination-Resistance Paradigm”