1. How important is it to appeal to the Communist roots of globalization today?
I do not think that the concrete, historical form of international solidarity can be revived in a situation whose conditions have changed so fundamentally. The same goes for what is known as capitalism in contemporary Russia. If we superimpose any conventional raster even a Marxian one we understand very little of what actually makes up the uniqueness of the situation as it has come about here.
2. Which chances do you see for the ongoing democratization of art? Is it possible to break out of the framework of market hierarchy and exclusive global representation?
The possibilities for democratization are coded into art itself. Although art is excellent in that it calls all firm artistic or institutional conventions into question. I will take the liberty of saying that today’s artist is a private person, realizing his individual project, a project which may indeed never be shown anywhere. But if the artist is able to reflect or express the emotional dominant of his-her contemporaries in the process of his activity, if he finds a language, or more accurately, an authenticity of images, there is only the pre-semantic openness of time experienced together. At this point, he is not only being faithful to his community, but is giving his-her community the chance to emerge.
Of course, the market attempts to capture even such “private” efforts, dividing its value into shares. This runs contrary to the “community” from which it emerged. Yet the artist also exists in a place where he resists this subjugation, this translation into the language of “big” art, even if he is exhibited everywhere, becoming a symbol for his country or his epoch. If this artist has any real format, even if they hang him on museum walls or show him in special spaces, his works will resist by confronting the compulsory context with some kind of senseless or inappropriate non sequiter.
3. How important is it today to stop the conveyors of big events, opting instead for internationalist work on location?
I think the problem is that regional artists already don’t want any kind of local integration, that their audience has changed decisively. Their success is made or unmade somewhere else, on the international biennales or at exhibitions in the “First World”, for an example. It is impossible to retain (gain) an identity without tapping into the transnational flow. This is actually quite problematical, since it takes place through adaptation in the broader sense of translation. What is actually becoming a part of the network? Under which circumstances is it being hooked up? Your ethnography, your post-colonial (or simply your colonial) burden, the fact that you’re an eccentric? Does the predefined placement of regional artists into special places reserved for them in the international art world represent a full-fledged integration into the real global context, constantly expanding? A context, one might add, whose distribution of power is obvious, where politics play their usual role, corrected slightly to meet the changed international power balance. I think that the current tension consists in the fact that too much is being constructed in advance, following predefined lines and routes. The artist is not free to choose which path to take. How is it possible to find one’s place, evading these templates or at least exchanging them, bringing confusion to the hordes of professional art dealers? This, to me, is an open question.
4. In how far is the experience of new local communities that draw their linguistic legitimacy from global pop-culture? In how far do they influence the development of contemporary art?
First of all, to be fair, the following observation: any subculture, all the more so a subculture with pretences toward “radical chic”, is already not a community. In general, the theme of the community actually arose through Communism’s concrete institutional materializations. In materializing as a bureaucratic system, Communism successfully discarded this kind of togetherness, since it is impossible to express in an institutional form such as party, social institution, state etc. The community’s togetherness resists being frozen or transformed into a registry of easily identifiable institutions and norms. In other words, this society is on the edge; marginality is the experience it endures. As we all know, artists and revolutionaries experience this most intensively. Such new communities and their experiences are only interesting to the extent that they remain subversive. The degree of their subversive potential can be determined by measuring how many of their signs are doubled by the dominant culture which is not necessarily pop.
On to pop-culture. Many intellectuals have a relation to pop that is ambivalent to say the least. You can examine pop as an object. But can you really love it? May the Lord preserve us from such misery. At the same time, the sharpest among today’s contemporary artists are those who come from this craziness in one way or another. Pop-culture is capable of saying more than one can even imagine about communities that accept clich?s apriori. The fact of a clich?’s use is something we won’t argue about. On the other hand, in this form of consumption, for the shortest possible moment, the clich? is interpreted freely; culture does not control the direction of its effects. When the clich? dematerializes and loses itself in the power of significance, it suddenly becomes a substitute for memory and even for experience altogether. Then, an artist arises and expresses this experience. The experience of togetherness already exists, the clich?s are already present; the newcomer reveals the clich? in its new quality.
5. Is international style the only relevant possibility for addressing the local problematique? Is there any room left for creative misunderstandings, lost in translation, experiences that are both subjective and local? Which experiences have you made in highlighting the uniqueness of a local cultural context as something of general relevance?
Intranslatability is one of communication’s prerequisites. In my opinion, the unification of language and style is little more than a big utopia. Of course, things flow together into some common language de facto, be it in art or in international communication in general. Ideally, “big events” demand a special language for their reconstruction or their translation. To put it differently, “big events” lead to a certain idiom; they also face the other, the representative of another culture, another language. Thus, their idiom will not be too difficult to understand. In any case, it is not necessary to adapt anything “for them”. There are no two languages, neither “dominant” nor “marginal”. There is, however, a field of problems. The researcher tries to think about these problems, while the artist attempts to express them. Since these problems are not particularly local is any problem really “local”? they will certainly be able to generate some form of interest.
See the Russian version of the site for the author’s complete answer.