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#9: What do we have in common?

Radek Community /// In Search of Our Dream (not finished yet)

By now, we can already say that the Radek Community is our attempt at answering the question of what the community is and how we can be together in the contemporary world. Throughout our entire history, we were always burdened by one and same pressing question: are we really realizing the potential that collectives seem to entail? Are our efforts really all that different from ordinary individual attempts to interact with this world? I am absolutely convinced that this question is inevitable for any community. Once it has asserted its identity in some way, once it has presented the world with evidence of its existence as an independent space for communication, no community ever finds itself at that euphoric point of complete clarity again.

By now, we can already say that the Radek Community is our attempt at answering the question of what the community is and how we can be together in the contemporary world. Throughout our entire history, we were always burdened by one and same pressing question: are we really realizing the potential that collectives seem to entail? Are our efforts really all that different from ordinary individual attempts to interact with this world? I am absolutely convinced that this question is inevitable for any community. Once it has asserted its identity in some way, once it has presented the world with evidence of its existence as an independent space for communication, no community ever finds itself at that euphoric point of complete clarity again.

We could even assert that every history of a community’s becoming is also the history of its falling-apart. Once it has arisen and has manifested its own existence in a broader social context, the group is doomed to constant repetitions of self-identification. This leads to a constant delineation of boundaries, a constant battle for independence, a war with the rest of the world. After all, the alternative communicative practices that form the nervous tissue of any community are not reinforced by the kind of mechanisms that stabilize the belief in the meaningfulness and necessity of the outer world’s dominant practices. Seen in contrast to these, the community seems spectral or illusory, and sometimes even contradicts them directly. Any pause between the community’s acts of self-identification is yet another occasion to call its existence into question. Because the rest of the world never comes to a stop.

For its very inception, the project of the Radek Community was based on far broader premises than just manifesting collectivity on the territory of art. We were always interested in the possibility of the group as such, in light of the entire totality of its relationships to the outer world at large. We were not only interested in the art-world. The fact that the Radek Community was identified with a group of young artists is little more than a logical step in the development of the given group’s possibilities in the present situation in Russia and Moscow, but it wasn’t the result of any conscious strategic idea. It just happened.

It has become our continuous practice to manifest collectivity through the artificial construction of a set of symbolic images that reflect a certain community. We dress in women’s clothing, wrap banners around our necks as if they were giant red scarves, carry around chairs (founding a movement of “Chairers”), and wrap one another up with colored scotch tape (Scotch Party). The Scotch Party is probably the most consequent strategy for manifesting collectivity. Calling ourselves “Scotchers”, we declare that nothing aside from a common love for wrapping one another with scotch-tape unites us. Throughout 2001, this was our guiding principle: we held parties, gave concerts, made performances, and appeared on TV. We also developed Gruppen-Scotch, which became our main instrument for introducing the new community to the public at large; the Scotchers would run into a crowd of people and bind them together with colored duct-tape. Thanks to the mass-media, this simulation of new type of collectivity soon became a belief in the Scotch Party’s authenticity.

The community arises at the moment in which a group of people dreams a common dream. The attempt to implement this dream in reality, or to uncover alternative mechanisms for its production, generates versatile communicative practices and experiments. These experiments pulse with existential importance. The community’s dream cannot be reduced to some concrete goal, which all of the community’s participants are working toward. Quite on the contrary: once the dream is formalized and becomes a palpable, instrumental goal, the community begins to fall apart; the dream’s formalization signals the end of the group and turns it into an organization. After all, the whole point of the community is to construct a kind of sociality in which the dream itself seems possible. But the presence of a concrete goal testifies to the fact that the necessary sociality already exists. All that is left is to find the appropriate strategy for the realization of its goals. Here, there is no experiment, no place for a new community. “Hunger-strike with no demands”: there is nothing left in this protest-action, other than the form of hunger itself; all content, all concrete demands have already been lost. In this sense, the action represents the functional principle behind any community. It is this principle that really presents an alternative to the dominant sociality in that it produces an independent and encapsulated event. After all, the demand is little more than an assertion; all it does is reformulate the complete dissatisfaction with concrete goals which bear no relation whatsoever to dissatisfaction itself, since they are no more than additional confirmations of the existing order of things, where there is always someone asking and always someone giving.

…We believed that we were strong enough to create an experimental space for the development of new communicative practice for the development of this new society by realizing a miniature model of this possible alternative. We were fascinated by the aesthetics of 1968: posters, slogans, bombs, and terrorists. However, at the same time, we understood that we needed other technologies to affect the outer world, some other way of communicating. This is why we stand on a pedestrian crossing and wait for the traffic light to turn green. People keep coming and coming, finally forming a huge crowd. Each of them is going somewhere or another. Everyone is minding their own business; nothing connects any one with all the others, excepting the desire to cross the street. When the light finally turns green, we cross with all the others. And then, we raise red flags and banners above our heads. This is our “Demonstration”. It is defined by our disappointment with and our hope for the prospects of finding a new language.

etc. etc. etc.

But alas, today we can already confirm that we have lost our dream. The date of its death: 2004. Happy New Year, everyone! Hail to the Radek Community!

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