Rude Awakening: Memes as Dialectical Images >

Benjamin argued that “the realization of dream elements, in the course of waking up, is the paradigm of dialectical thinking” which leads him to claim that “every epoch, in fact, not only dreams the one to follow but, in thus dreaming, precipitates its awakening.”9 Benjamin’s writing is steeped in metaphors of sleep, or awakening and of “the continuous hope for the sudden ‘shock’ and ‘flash’ of insight”.10 His project was to develop a secular messianic iconodulism, a political theology in which the dialectical image was imagined to contain a genuinely revolutionary potential encoded in its esoteric kernel. In the dilapidated corridors of the 19th C Parisian arcades, filled with odd, magic commodities, the march of progress appeared to Benjamin as fractured, opening onto an ur-time of collective redemption that he imagined as embedded within these neglected artifacts.



Alienocene, the Journal of the First Outernational. >

Theoretical, artistic, political, and scientific, Alienocene is an electronic journal that gathers texts, sounds, and images seeking to reshape the relation between the human and the inhuman, the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial, the near and the distant, what is familiar to us and what persists in remaining – despite everything – alien.

Aliens, foreigners, exiles: the figures of the Alienocene are cosmological as well as political, they go beyond the framework of the Anthropocene and the quasi-incestuous relationship that anthropos maintains with the Earth. Against the sedentary nature of the Anthropocene, the electronic journal Alienocene seeks to promote – through poems, literary and philosophical writings, musical and video compositions – an existentialwandering: we are strangers to the world in the world and our existential alien-ness tries to dismantle any economic alienation.



Karl Marx >

As said before, Marx’s theory of classes is based on the recognition that in each class society, part of society (the ruling class) appropriates the social surplus product. But that surplus product can take three essentially different forms (or a combination of them). It can take the form of straightforward unpaid surplus labour, as in the slave mode of production, early feudalism or some sectors of the Asiatic mode of production (unpaid corvée labour for the Empire). It can take the form of goods appropriated by the ruling class in the form of use-values pure and simple (the products of surplus labour), as under feudalism when feudal rent is paid in a certain amount of produce (produce rent) or in its more modern remnants, such as sharecropping. And it can take a money form, like money-rent in the final phases of feudalism, and capitalist profits. Surplus-value is essentially just that: the money form of the social surplus product or, what amounts to the same, the money product of surplus labour. It has therefore a common root with all other forms of surplus product: unpaid labour…



Commodification >

In other words, genealogy. In any event, it seems to me that the three-fold dynamics of dialectical forms are easily established, from Lockean liberalism (with its three temporal orders of the contract) to Marx’s critical diagram of political economy: exchange value, surplus value, value. The crucial ‘third term,’ the specificity of capitalism, is surplus value, not commodification.



How to Be an Unprofessional Artist

To be amateurs, dabblers, dilettantes.

An amateur is filled with love beyond compensation, the dabblers fearlessly go places they don’t belong, the dilettantes happily lack the hidebound pretensions of experts. When we step out of the imposed confines of professionalism, we can be as open as students, able to flirt with other modes, to seek knowledge, experience, and value in our lives without limits.

Stripped away of institutional validation and the pressures of the market, we are free to be human, to be artists, to be unprofessional.



AR March 2018 Feature Irredeemable Form / Features / ArtReview

Among critics of the original event, Boris Rhein – minister of higher education, research and the arts for Hesse, the state in which Documenta is based – argued that ‘any comparison to the Holocaust cannot be allowed, as the crimes of the Nazis were unique’. While it is impossible to disagree with such a sentiment – which points fundamentally to the difficulty in doing justice via art to the specificity and magnitude of the Holocaust as an event – the difficulty in responding to the renewed threat of racialist supremacy without recourse to artistic statements should be recognised. It would appear that in the artworld we are prevented from entering into the fullness of a debate on the resurgence of a white-supremacist politics by our own rectitude. On this note it is worth recalling that twentieth-century German philosopher Theodor Adorno’s famous injunction on the writing of poetry after Auschwitz was followed with the proviso that we should continue to try to make art anyhow, as a challenge to the cynicism of the rightwing. While Adorno favoured an abstract art, which was as such able to circumvent the difficulties of directly representing human suffering, he was writing as a survivor of the Holocaust, who fled his homeland to the UK and then the United States to avoid persecution. As such, Adorno wrote of the best course of action once all opposition to rightwing racialist tyranny had failed and the worst had already happened. Today we face the problem of looking back to a past that we must do justice to while at the same time having at our disposal the full range of available rhetorical and artistic devices in order to counter the far right. As it stands, the sensitivity of the topic often leaves art professionals and academics hamstrung when facing rightwing imagery.