Friday, January 30, 2009

from: Nomadic Structures

Extracts from the text: The Artist as Res(iden)t by Hito Steyerl & Boris Buden

Residencies create trans-national sets of relations: like space stations for upwardly mobile self-entrepreneurs they function as accelerators for self-marketing and as training grounds for the lifestyle of highly mobile cultural operators. They shape slightly eccentric subjectivities, which are perfectly aligned to the rhythm of global cultural industries.

But let’s ask now: to what public space belongs an artist in residence? It seems very easy to answer this question as long as we imagine a trans-national public space as a sort of mechanical extension of a national public. But the condition of residency – as we have indicated above – doesn’t simply displace the public space of artist’s national origin, nor does it simply enlarge the residential public space in terms of adding to it some sort of trans-national quality. Its impact is much deeper. It hybridizes both public spaces and blurs the very boundary between them, thus between a national and a trans-national public space. Moreover, it makes almost all of the termini technici of the traditional public space – the crucial distinction between public and private, its differentiation into separate spheres of culture, material production, politics, etc, its normativity, the very idea of authorship, etc. – obsolete. But what is even more important, the condition of residency challenges the traditional idea of artist’s political engagement. Becoming political meant for an artist before all his or her ability to make an impact on the public and thus on political decisions, which are in a democratic society supposed to be made in accordance with common will, articulated, again, through the public space. But residency participates in, and simultaneously creates, a public space, which has lost its crucial connection with the monopoly of political decision, that is, with the place where the sovereign (more or less democratically elected political representatives of the people/nation) makes these decisions.

Residency is, therefore, a manifestation of the irreducible liminality of a new public space, which transcends all forms of traditional political subjectification and goes even beyond the very idea of political democracy and beyond the way of life it generates. It is a space of an experience, which hasn’t learned yet to speak and articulate itself. Thus the artist in residency is both a living embodiment of this experience and an authentic witness to it, its non-authorized, silent speaker, a subject-object of a new noise without shape and origin, in short, a messenger without message to deliver. The rest is future.