1. How important is it to appeal to the Communist roots of globalization today?
For me, the appeal to such roots is not important. Instead, I see a number of principles, one of which consists in a serious reconfiguration of all relationship-systems, a change that has taken place within the last years. We have long since passed the transnational stage of capitalism’s expansion, the stage that influenced the birth of the Communist Manifesto. In examining all of the contemporary system’s components, it is impossible to find anything that corresponds to the historical conditions of the Communist International and its functioning. Since the multi-national model of capitalism is being replaced with its virtual variant, the strategy of conquering new markets and subjugating Third World countries has been exchanged for the subjugation of consciousness. The ideology of “the alien other (i.e. of foreign birth)” has passed the stage of “knowledge as the other”. Now, it is in the process of becoming “biology as the other” before our very eyes.
Today, the idea of the commune as such is not important. The only thing that plays a crucial role is individual choice as the only basis and only real criterion of its activity
On the other hand, I don’t understand why is it necessary to keep raising the brilliant dead, even if their ideas had a powerful impact. Obviously, any relatively complex system of axioms will eventually generate a question that its axioms cannot answer. For this reason, I see no reason for reanimating the International in its Communist essence. But to set some kind of marker nevertheless, I find more and more reason to call today’s phase the Rhizomatic International, a phenomenon whose ideological and technological characteristics are adequate to our time.
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 growth and preservation of any process depends on physical differentiation. It also depends on a heightened unity of the field. This is how I would characterize the rhizomatic essence of any community’s existence, no matter whether they are artists, activists etc. Note that we are not speaking of solidarity as a constant quality the community faces each motivation as it arises, forcing the community to change its vector of development each and every time. However, the ideology of “big events” or institutional success does not play any decisive role, in my opinion. I would characterize one of the Rhizomatic International’s attributes as the capacity for self-organized criticism. The combined effect of a multitude of small communities can break into the exclusiveness of global representation. Technological re-tribalization – the gradual reversion of communities into a tribal state, accompanied by a strong technological dominant is our time’s most important need. Without it, any progressive idea will inevitably become a decorative idiocy, once it takes its place at a trade-fair.
3. How important is it today to stop the conveyors of big events, opting instead for internationalist work on location?
I wouldn’t talk about the possibility of stopping the conveyor of global events if I were you it reeks of leftwing rhetoric of most worn and infantile-romantic sort. Stopping the conveyor is the same as stopping the actual broadcast of a TV channel while sitting in front of a television. While you can turn the television off, the broadcast itself will continue…Among other things, a century of pragmatism sets us apart from the revolutionaries and their troubled times. Since then, it seems that people have learned a lesson taught by history, namely not to act through head-on confrontations. Today, one needs to act in more round-about, mediated, tactical, indirect ways, as technology teaches us. We need to be more subtle…In this sense, tactical media make no difference between global and local events. Under the conditions of the “global-localization” effect, which has already been described, this or that project inevitably focuses the meta-linguistic interlinks themselves, organizing significance. Thus, your question of whether one should reaccentuate one’s activities from the global to a local field means almost nothing to me.
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?
It is obvious that subcultures are actually divided and in conflict with one another. Many phenomena are descriptively identical to art. They fulfill art’s functions for people who aren’t involved in art or who have made too few or too negative experiences with it. Today, one can discover many instances of what Peter Weibel calls “hotel cultures”. Oriented toward presenting changing impressions, they address fields of significance that have long since lost their uses (among them, all-time favorites such as MTV-consciousness, fashion, lifestyle, and clubbing). Some components of the art system have shifted: elements that were once auxillary supplements have become primary, as far as pop consciousness is concerned. In turn, elements and characteristics that once played the role of dominants have now become secondary. In the end, on both profane and expert levels, they supply us with a pre-validated factor of indifference, translated from one event to another. Returning to the question at hand, I am interested in the experiences of some communities connected to contemporary art, while the experiences of those who camouflage or disguise themselves as contemporary art simply leave me cold.
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?
My experience and praxis in the field of hi-tech art calls into doubt the recipe of producing pieces executed in an international style but making reference to local contexts. I would call this “pavilion thinking”, in analogy to the many “big event” with their representation through national pavilions. This kind of thinking was already old and lame at the end of the last century. True, the experiences of a number of artistic movements from Fluxus to International Network Culture have developed “international styles”. But who said that technology is still at the same level it once was? Because the development of technology actually unifies local specifics; by now, it is an empty waste to accentuate these “differences”. For an example, during the early 1990s, net culture (as a developing technological principle) devoted a great deal of attention to local specificity, all in an international style. But now, 10 years later, the socialization of next-generation technologies developing on a molecular level simply lifts the question of local differences, rendering it useless. The specificity of a local cultural culture dissolves if technology finally becomes a part of the body on a molecular or atomic level etc. As technology becomes an inside-element of the body and the mind, the artwork can now be imagined on a hitherto unthinkable molecular level. So why should I accentuate the nuances of local difference? In my opinion, the representatives of contemporary art need to realize that we have reached a stage at which the development of technology (including bio-technology) has rendered moot many of the questions that we were asking 3-5 years ago. Today, they have not simply “lost their currency”, but have actually disappeared from the field of vision completely. I would say that the dichotomy “international style” vs. “national content” is one of these disappearing questions. In other words, the genome revolution has led to a state of affairs in which “Faust shudders in fear when he hears of Matter, around whom there is no room, only the continuing groundless of space”…
See the Russian version of the site for the author’s complete answer.