1. How important is it to appeal to the Communist roots of globalization today?
I’d rather argue for continuity. Capitalism is so ugly that no single drop of criticism can be too little. However, no strategic form can be eternal. At the time, the International was a very attractive and promising strategic direction since the connections between national states were evident. [The worker’s movements] were acting in similar ways within their own countries and it made sense to co-ordinate action internationally. The contemporary global world is different. Today, the division between the rich and poor within national states are no longer decisive. The whole world is divided into two: the places where capital is concentrated (the centers) and the places where there is no capital (the peripheries). There is a difference of interest between those who have no access to profit in the places where capital is concentrated and those poor in places where there is no capital. Furthermore, these latter places of no capital are highly differentiated. Still, the borders of the nation state cannot limit the field of action. Nowadays, one can already observe organized groups doing things elsewhere, in this or that region, pursuing particular aims and outcomes in completely other places. This looks more poly-national, if one still prefers to stick to a notion of nation rather than community.
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 ongoing democratization of art is something that I probably fail to recognize. Instead, I tend to agree with those who observe the crisis of art’s utopia in parallel to the crisis of civil society’s utopia. The institutions make the art system function. For their part, the institutions are founded by society and perform according to the interests of that particular society. As soon as this society changes, its institutions will also change. It is not the other way around. And artists can and need to fly on the wings of desire. Someone said that capitalism is unable to cope with desire; it has a place only for interest.
3. How important is it today to stop the conveyors of big events, opting instead for internationalist work on location?
Unfortunately, the peripheries are deprived of many things including art, including philosophy. To make the world more just is a wonderful intention but that is too complex an issue. What does one do with big events? Should one ban them? Should one boycott them? I don’t have anything against big events. They have their positive function. International work on location – which location? If you bring Russian and American artists together in some center, all the problems of the division between rich and poor will manifest themselves instantly. On the other hand, bringing projects to peripheries is like having people with empty stomachs watch MTV. Is this so nice? I don’t think so. The real problems lie beyond these two forms of activities.
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?
The fact that a local community can “go global” cannot be overestimated. First, it is produced by a convention to which anyone can subscribe, no matter who and where he/she is, thus identifying himself/herself as raver, hip-hopper. This, in turn, can also lead to the appearance of a more substantial identity. The possibility itself of such identification through such an unlimited mechanism can be seen as a challenge for any artist, intellectual, politician, revolutionary or anybody who has a project.
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?
Internationalism was perverted, but not discredited. The Soviet experience was a unique, valuable lesson. It taught us how and what to do, and what not to do. As to for art that is “national in form and socialist in content”, I don’t see anything wrong with it: it was a good formula for that place and time. Here, language was also already being unified in painting and sculpture, combining the genre basics of early European 19th century modernism with the elements of classicism. The style itself differed depending on national aesthetic preferences. I would say that nowadays we have the same situation. Of course, there is one big difference – there is no socialist content. But then again, there is no content at all. Just as socialist politics were trying to fill the work of art with a particular content, capitalist politics drain artworks of any content. All productions of meaning are constantly aborted. The world is cluttered with individualities, whereas presence is not tolerated as an identity. Here, I don’t mean paper-controlled identity, but authentic identity, an identity which has something to say. If people could ultimately tell themselves “I am the one who ” instead of humbly occupying their places in the existing order, it would anticipate a different social climate and we could actually expect something to change.
I myself work on a particular ground on the territory of a deterritorialized subject. The material I work with is my localized experience. I believe it is generally relevant. What I am doing can be asked anywhere, whenever the discourse of deterritorialization or adjacent discourses are brought into focus. I would say that I am committed to “highlighting” the experiences spotlighted by my identity. I guess I am not too far from the issue of “highlighting the uniqueness of a local cultural context as something of general relevance” which I think is not a wrong idea, it can work when things are done elaborately. But the question is how can any work be done elaborately on the peripheries? There are so many things missing there that unfortunately, usually, one ends up with no more than painful frustration.