17 April 2008

The Personal Is Conceptual

As a writer I’ve always been a little envious of the narcissistic potential of visual practice in its capacity to shroud what is essentially personal and autobiographical (i.e. banal) in a language based on a lack of transparency. Years ago a friend of mine claimed that one of his peers, a certain highly respected artist with whom he’s worked closely (and who will remain unnamed), had developed his entire body of work on the basis of the inadequacies he experienced with respect to his penis. (No details were offered). And I began to look around at all of those people who had achieved visibility in their careers and to wonder if that success was based on secretly exploiting a personal obsession or insecurity while learning how to carefully hide that autobiographical element within a seemingly objective and universally relevant conceptual narrative.

I also thought about myself and how my professional interests have been absolutely determined by a personal conflict I should been able to resolve years ago, but that I still carry around from one country to the next like a ridiculous weight, and that will continue to determine absolutely everything I do and has, in this way, become the source of my productivity. (Is it obvious I wonder?) It’s even difficult to think about writing critically in the first person after years of being taught in school that this is absolutely unacceptable.

Unheimlich is an exercise in making the self-indulgent visible by very explicitly and publicly exploiting the most intimate, pathetic, and humiliating self-doubts and frustrations that plague all of us at one point or another. It’s a celebration of failure (fracasar así es todo un lujo); an acknowledgement of mediocrity (la curva siempre va hacia abajo); an articulation of dissatisfaction (life is as miserable as this poor asshole); and above all a refusal to hide all of the bitterness and anger behind the good form of conceptual practice or the social diplomacy demanded by careerism (everything isn’t nice) in a cultural context (Bogotá) in which being nauseatingly nice all the time is, in and of itself, an art form and a means of survival amidst all of the aggression that these niceties seek to pacify.

However, Victor’s claims to vulnerability and victimization (underdogged by myself), the feigned transparency with which he seems to openly bear his tortured and suffering self, is the means by which he disguises his own secret. And this is: that the rage so uniquely his own is product not of any real feelings of self-loathing but of a sense of intellectual superiority that makes it difficult to live out the farce of trying to be successful (whether that be through visibility or economic remuneration), or even just a productive member of society, when it’s so difficult to respect those who will ultimately determine that success or the very values required to attain a position of power (el sueño de mi racion que produce insomnia). If these drawings and writings diaristically reflect the inner musings of a pathetic loser, it is a loser who has chosen the difficult path of resisting to stake a claim in the ridiculous battle for social respectability opting instead for cultural relevance which is far less prestigious’ — but who is obsessed with seeing how it will all end.

Michèle Faguet

Michèle Faguet

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