Letter to Joanna (some thoughts about “the political”, about “art”, about “dilemma” and about “boycotting”)

dear Joanna,

here are – as promised – some thoughts about “the political”, about “art”, about “dilemma” and about “boycotting”:

about “the political”:
I want to do art politically and this is what I am doing in participating to “Manifesta 10”, I take this seriously, that’s why I always denied the term of ‘Political Art’, ‘Political Artist’, ‘Engaged Artist’ etc. I refuse these terms because they are lazy and they are used for – in the very end – to neutralize art.
I want to try to do my work of art politically means also to refuse to become a ‘politicized subject’!
To me art is the most important thing and this is what makes it political! I want to insist on this because it is what makes the difference and it is what is essential, I do not want to do politics and use art for it!
Nevertheless my problem – as an artist – is: How can I make a work of art, which – in any cases – resists historical facts? (And here we are in the core of the question “boycotting Manifesta 10”), I have to ask myself: “How can I make a work of art which touches beyond the historical moment, I am – right now – living in? And the question is also: How can I do a work of art, today – in my historical field – which is a-historical? (I think on our beautiful visit to the house of Mikhail Mathusin with the heart-touching works of Elena Guro!)

about “art”:
first of all, the problem is not, to be an artist or not, the problem is: what kind of work of art I want to do?
If I say that art is the most important thing to me then I have to prove it and I have to stand out the ridiculousness of such affirmation and of such belief, the belief in art.

I am aware about today’s tendencies to deny the power of art, nobody has to count on me, to ever deny this power, because this is what constitutes my love to art, and this love is the competence – the only one I have – to do a work of art! Yes, I love to do my work, my work of art.
What my love of art and my belief in art is based on:
Art – because its art – is resistance. Art resists facts (also the annexing of Crimea). Art is resistance, art is movement, art is positiveness, art is intensity, and art is belief. Art – because – it’s art has the power of transformation. The power to transform each human being. Art – because it’s art – can create the conditions of implication. Implication beyond everything else. Art – because it’s art – is autonomous. Autonomy is what gives the artwork it’s beauty and it’s absoluteness. Art – because its art – is universal. Universality means Justice, Equality, the Other, the Truth, the ‘One World’. Art – because its art – can provoke a dialogue or a confrontation, from one to one.
To me – as an artist – art is a tool – or a weapon – to encounter the world, a tool to confront reality and a tool to live in the time I am living in, I want to use this tool or this weapon, I want and I need to use this tool, but nobody can tell me how to use this tool. Nobody can tell me how to use the tool the ‘right way’ and nobody can tell me how to use this tool “correctly”. I want to establish – with and within my work – a critical corpus. (this is my ambition – also – in my work “Abschlag” for St. Petersburg)

about “dilemma”:
I am not afraid about “dilemma”, because to do art is a dilemma, it’s a dilemma between theory and practice, it’s a problem of position and it’s a question of form, because my problem – as artist – is: How can I take a position? How can I give a form to this position? (because to say: “Fuck Putin” is not a form! It’s not a position!) And how can I create a form beyond political, aesthetical, cultural habits, which reaches a truth? A universal truth? This must be my dilemma, my problem, and my question as an artist! So, you understand that ‘boycotting’ or ‘not boycotting’ is a dilemma, but it is small dilemma!
Because in this dilemma there is also a trap, it’s the trap of political correctness (what you are calling ‘fashionable boycotting’), the dictatorship of journalism and of daily commentary (I’m an artist, not a journalist), the obedience to opinion or to ‘arty-opinion’, the trap of the ‘beautiful soul’, the trap of the choice of the ‘good side’ and the trap of the ‘good conscience’,

about “boycotting”:
I am not against boycotting in principle – I did boycotts and I still do – but something I know is: If you do a boycott you have to be the one –the first one – who pays the price for doing boycott. Only if you pay the price for pronouncing a boycott – it makes sense and the boycott will be efficient. Whenever you do a boycott without having to pay a price to do so – your boycott is only opportunism and in the end a failure.

one thing more: it’s not up to you to justify – in first place – why you are ‘not boycotting’, do not let you push into the defensive! It’s up to those who are boycotting to explain why they do it and also – this is very important – how they do it?

take care – take care,
Thomas

(email answer April 5. 2014)