Letter to Pamela (Seven questions about Politics, Grapus, & Philosophy)

Aubervilliers 26.06.2003

Dear Pamela,

I will try to respond to your seven questions about Politics, Grapus, & Philosophy

  1. I left Grapus after a half day’s work. I recognized that the group was a hierarchic organization. I couldn’t accept to do what others told me to do. I wanted make my own graphic design for them, but this was not possible. I decided to do what I wanted to do alone.
  2. No
  3. It is not beyond all reason, it is not stupid or ideological to talk about revolutionary art practice now. Perhaps, it is a bit fashionable. In any case it is not the question of post-revolutionary art, whatever that means. Doing art is a revolutionary act because it is a way to exist in the middle of reality; I try to do this. This is a way to surpass reality without fleeing into another world. There is only One World, There is no escape, no emergency exit. We have to stay in front of what is real; art has to stay in front of what is real. Art and philosophy are two practices that try to become the subject of reality. To surpass reality means to surpass our own “object-status.” I want for my work to show that I am a subject; of course I am. We are all determined by historical facts, economical facts, and sexual facts, but this does not mean we are free. I am free, and freedom is absolute. Our non-sovereignty, including my own, is objective. I want to be free with myself. I want to fight for this. It is the fight for the absolute. It doesn’t matter who wins, but it is the necessary fight for me because art is a revolutionary practice. It is the fight for the impossible. The fight for freedom in a world without freedom. I think this is a movement of resistance of absolute resistance. No art is possible beyond this idea and principle of resistance. There is no art and there is no philosophy beyond the absolute will to revolt.
  4. As I said Art and Philosophy are tools. Philosophy is the way a person confronts himself with the time, with the world, and with reality. I am not a philosopher. I am an artist. Philosophy helps me to live. I want my artwork to help others to live. Of course, in a way, all philosophy is political, but I am not interested in political thinking. It is sterile. I am interested in absolute thinking. I want to confront myself with pure thinking. The power of philosophy is in its purity. Politics are not pure. I want to confront thoughts which provokes the activity of thinking, the activity my own thinking. Pure philosophy is able to do this for me. I love Spinoza for this and Deleuze. Philosophy gets interesting because it is not politically oriented but it can include politics. In this sense it is not only non-political, it is trans-political. This means a way to think the political without being political or becoming political. The conflict is between the political and philosophy is irreducible, but there is no conflict between art and philosophy. A philosophical notion such as the Multitude in “Empire” cannot be fulfilled by any historical fact. There is an irreducible gap between the fact and the notions. The scene of philosophy is not the side of the facts nor is it the side of opinions. It is this absolute distance or this absolute conflict or the abyss between the two dimensions. Philosophy as well as art are contentious things. It is a kind of war. Philosophers and Artists are a type of warrior, not politicians.
  5. I do not want to speak about ethical art practice. I believe in art, and I believe in philosophy. I do not believe in ethical art; I do not want to do political art. As an artist, I agree with the new sense Deleuze (and Spinoza) gave the concepts of ethics. I am interested in the relationship between responsibility and subjectivity. I am interested in an ethic of singularity, a kind of ethic of a subject without subjectivity, as my friend, Marcus Steinweg, a young German philosopher, would say.
  6. It is the world with a community of singularities with a community of warriors fighting for freedom.
  7. No I did not read Giorgio Agamben yet, but I had discussions with Marcus Steinweg about Agamben; he knows his work very well. The discussions were about “Homo Sacer” not about “The Coming Community.” I have a lot of discussions with Marcus about Philosophy and Art He made an important contribution to “Das Ontologische Kino” for the Bataille Monument. I do not often use the term community. I want to work for a non-exclusive audience. I want to include with and through my work. Including, my contribution the exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, which will include two new works, Hotel Democracy and U-Lounge. U-Lounge will include “integrated texts” by my friend Marcus as well.

Thomas Hirschhorn