Fragmentary notes on Reading Loop, 18/6/2011
Jacques Rancière, Ten Theses on Politics
Politics is not the exercise of power.
Politics is about rejecting the very idea of a dispositif that accords power and non-power.
Democracy is grounded in the absence of the right to govern.
Democracy is not a political regime; it is politics itself, in that it collapses the very idea of there being a right to govern.
The demos is: those who are not counted, whose voices are not heard, who are not accorded the right to speak. They are anarithmoi - the unaccounted for, the supplement. They suspend the very logic of legitimate domination.
Politics is litigious. It is a deviation from the normal order of things. It is a denaturalising gesture, a rupture and an interruption.
Politics is dissensus. Consensus is the loss of thought. It is politics understood as the affair of government.
‘Political dispute separates politics from the police’.
The police order is ‘characterised by the absence of void and supplement’. (Think how protest is appropriated by the police order. Mark Fisher, in Capitalist Realism describes how the ‘subversive’ and ‘alternative’ are allocated spaces within the mainstream; they become styles within the mainstream…)
Art and politics?
If a controversial work is accepted as art, it’s expected to be wild, so it is not disruptive. In this case, the brinkmanship is the art.
A great deal of work claims to be political by wearing politics on its sleeve. (Zizek observes that ‘so long as we believe (in our hearts) that capitalism is bad, we are free to continue to participate in capitalist exchange…’)
We disavow our complicity with capitalist and corporate structures, yet remain complicit with them. (The Venice Biennale as a corporate hospitality event…?) The erroneous idea that art can be removed from the functioning and performance of global capital (there is nothing outside capital).
Dissensus might be to say: there is no such thing as political art.
Silence as a form of dissensus?
If art can be defined, it becomes consensus. It is in the (taxonomic/epistemological?) gap that we might begin to think differently.
Zizek observes that ideology is the way we see things. So art is like putting on glasses to see things differently.
Galleries and museums are necessary for the system to continue working. ‘Political art’ is a kind of safety valve, which ensures the wider system can remain intact, its fault lines depressurised by an art that is critical but does little.
There has to be something else. (The spandrel. The Eeyore Corner.)
Politics is done by those who cannot speak, who can barely articulate that towards which they are moving.
Art is art to the extent that it is not art. Artists are artists to the extent that they are not artists. The interest of anonymity as a political gesture? (Think of The Invisible Committee & The Coming Insurrection… (Read some of it here.) Or Virginia Woolf’s account of anonymity…) But in a democracy, there should be no need for anonymity? Consensus = individually anonymous but visible. How can we reclaim anonymity…?
There is a consensus of privacy, but it is a fake privacy.
Protest? Or political organisation?
The futility of noisy protests that everyone agrees with…? (That leads to more consensus.)
Art as a means of disclosing the ‘necessary’ and ‘inevitable’ as contingent? (See Mark Fisher, p. 16). The denaturalising function of art.