NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS INDIFFERENT TO US

A performance by Frans Jacobi impersonating Pope Francis. Performed in parallel with Rita Marhaug’s performance at Omstillingslaboratorium, Bergen Bibliotek 24.1.2017. Organised by Margrethe Brekke, Soups&Stories and Stiftelsen 3,14.

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Four sections of the ENCYCLICAL LETTER (LAUDATO SI’) OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS – ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME are recited. Section 11 is mumbled while walking around the auditorium. Section 21 & 22 are recited in a loud rhythmical manner while circling around Rita Marhaug lying in a pool of black oil. Section 231 with a sincere, truthful voice, while kneeling in the black pool of oil

NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS INDIFFERENT TO US

11: Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”. His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

21: Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.

22: These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.

231: Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also “macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones”. That is why the Church set before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love”. Social love is the key to authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity”. In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.

NOTE 1

The full ENCYCLICAL LETTER (LAUDATO SI’) OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS – ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME can be found at www.vatican.va

NOTE 2

‪Hans Kleivdal /react-text ‪react-text: 47 /react-text This was NOT your regular Pecha Kucha NOR cosy TEDtalk event. Kunnskapsdeling ble rettmessig og utålmodig utfordret ved in situ Art Performance med “Pave Frans” som messet om nødvendigheten av grønn omstilling, mens menneskeheten ligger druknet i olje foran foredraget mitt😳 Det var litt som å hoppe etter Wirkola😊

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HALF LIGHT

As I wake up I find myself in a strange half-light. I detect a set of familiar objects, but it is as if they are placed in a completely unknown environment. A room I have never seen before. There is a strange sketch-like quality to the objects – as if they are only possibilities. Emerging from obscurity. From another level of reality.

After a few moments I realize that I am actually at home, that the strange light cast on everything is just the weak morning light rising. Reassured I rest a while, getting to grips with the situation and the tasks of my travel ahead.

Then another complete break in the continuum of space and time; as I sit up I feel my face taking on an expression of my lover. As if her facial expression emerges in my face. This morning she is far away, probably sleeping in her own flow of time. Here though, in my room, she is momentary present – as her expression on my face. What is that deep layer of emotions that makes this possibility happen?

Once again I pull myself together and speed back to my mundane tasks, but the two incidents colors my morning. Even though both experiences are emotional – sensorial perceptions, they are functions of an automatisation.  My body controlled by some outside power. Technobody – not in the robotic sense, but as a bodily reaction controlled from something exterior. In soft gentle ways – these are soft perceptive sensations. Still images from afar. My sensorial organs projecting emotional events from a strange layer of alien possibilities.

 

NOTE 1

automaton |ôˈtämətən, -ˌtän|

noun (pl. automata |-tə| or automatons)

a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.

  • a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, esp. one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances.
  • used in similes and comparisons to refer to a person who seems to act in a mechanical or unemotional way: she went about her preparations like an automaton.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via Latin from Greek, neuter of automatos ‘acting of itself,’ from autos ‘self.’

 

NOTE 2

This text also appears as part of Synsmaskinen/Dark Pools: http://synsmaskinen.net/maskin/dark-pools-etherpad

 A FRUIT, NOT YET RIPE

A garage, in the backyard of some housing blocks in downtown Arkhangelsk. Its dark as we approach the scenario. A crowd of people and the muffled sound of music, a strange folk-punk. Coming closer we see a large video-projection with the band playing. Is it a video? Inside the garage the first rooms reveals another strange collection folk aesthetics, an installation of various objects, each oozing with atmosphere and hidden narratives. Behind a plastic curtain, sealed off, the band is actually playing live; in here the sound is loud and wild. Outside again the wine is absolutely discount and spirits are high. Last nights band arrives and starts a loose, anarchic session of jamming and circle-dancing in the dark.

In seldom moments a new art-scene is emerging, a new community comes alive. The second Artic Art Forum is an attempt at collecting such an emerging art community. Maybe even to take part in the production of such a moment.

The first two days of seminar, concerts, exhibition openings and discussions on art-conditions are sympathetic and interesting, but leaves one with the inevitable question: Is Arkhangelsk and the northern outskirts of Russia in fact too remote and culture too fragmented to claim status as an art-scene in itself?

To me and my generation the strange sensation of an art-scene in bloom, an aesthetics in becoming, is of course connected to the first part of the 90ties, Berlin 91-95, Riga 1993, Copenhagen 93/94. These were beautiful moments of our own becoming artists. Each generation and each community has its own periods of bloom, of creating artistic identity. Something comes together, something appears and a social aesthetic is shaped.

Thursday evening I feel exactly that sensation – arriving at that garage in the dark backyard everything comes together. Something collective is emerging in the darkness and a very specific aesthetics takes shape.

Somewhere in the seminar the next day, someone speaks of herself as a fruit, not yet ripe, but soon to become ripe. This might be the potential of the Murmansk/Arkhangelsk art-scene. Not yet ripe, but in exactly that most exciting state of urgent becoming.

UTOPIAN FULFILLMENT

In his book ‘The Rise of the Global Left – the world social forum and beyond’ Boaventura De Sousa Santos describes neo-liberal capitalism as an hegemonic mono culture that only allows for one utopian concept – the realization of neo-liberal capitalism itself. Global capitalism leaves no space for any alternatives; the system brings it own fulfillment.

But how does this utopian fulfillment actually look? Where does it appear?

One appearance might be the international transit area in Frankfurt Airport. Here the smooth aesthetics of non-space (M.Augé) constitutes itself with a discreet logic that we all willingly accept. Here we are all accepted and treated with pleasant smiles. Check-in, security and passport-control has sorted us and now we can relax. No one is here without allowance. The atmosphere is relaxed and leisurable. If everything goes right we have plenty of time for shopping, eating and drinking until our next boarding.

IMG_1497The class-system is subtle and discreet; of course we all accept that business-people have access to a series of extra lounges and services. They have paid for it and they deserved it. They somehow carry their suits and luggage in a manner that naturalizes their advantages.

Shopping is ‘duty-free’. What does this mean?

duty |ˈd(y)o͞otē|

noun (pl. duties)

1 a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility: it’s my duty to uphold the law | she was determined to do her duty as a citizen | a strong sense of duty.

  • [ as modifier ] (of a visit or other undertaking) done from a sense of moral obligation rather than for pleasure: a fifteen-minute duty visit.

I can buy the things I want without any ‘moral or legal obligation’; without any ‘responsibility’. This is indeed utopian – here my money is exactly that: My Money. No one are to interfere or ask how and why I spend it like I want to. I am free. Free to buy.

I myself have about an hour. I find a nice rustic restaurant and order a pasta with spinach and tomatoes. It is delicious. It perfectly matches the 2009er Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken of my choice. In between eating I am trying to install various apps on my new iPhone.

Now I am in the air, flying into the night. Heading for yet another utopian, non-space, international transit-area.

Touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects, Made, for the Most Part…

IMG_1502NOTES

De Souza text: www.synsmaskinen.net/maskin/utopia-log-4

This text also appears as: www.synsmaskinen.net/maskin/utopia-log-8

 

 

ONLY LOVE

In his upcoming film Shadow World, artist Johan Grimonprez, investigates the dark corrupted ways of global weapon trading. The result is sharp, dark and hits heavy. In his presentation at the seminar ’Action – and its twised relation to the object’ at the Icelandic Academy of Arts this weekend he presented a few scenes of the still not completed film.

In between a couple of very stark interviews on severe political misconduct on a global scale, a schokingly beautiful clip of a rollerscating couple, dancing on a plinth. The voice-over tells us of an uprising in some brazilian city. Protesting against a ridiculous ban on homosexual kissing in public space, the entire city engages in hours of protest-kissing.

This miracoulous little clip, hints at the similar miracoulous ending of the film. Here the philosofer Michael Hardt contemplates his ideas of a new common, build on love. An empathic love, that he sees as a tool, with the capacity to change each and everyone of us. Only love can overcome the evil mechanisms of an all encompassing, capitalist corruption. A corruption of the most basic human capacity to create enduring communities and basic human solidarity. Only love can help us re-create the idea of ’we’. Who are we, what are we, and what do we want?

This most surprising turn of Grimonprez presentation, that ends our intense 2-day discussions on action, object and art, leaves us all exhausted, but silently happy. Here is actually an artist that points to a possible hope. A fragile, but possible glimpse into a future direction of our politics.

This might sound heavy and existential, but as in his work in general, Grimonprez delivers his arguments with a humble and disarming lightness that is hard to resist. Here is an example – the video-clip he uses to illustrate the connection between the twisted object (cake) and the figure of the rebel (action):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3dZ_64Xjzs&index=24&list=PL5Y3O4DgIeNJ7vRL_hvJ47Gk9b89eB2Tu

 

Links

http://shadowworldfilm.com

http://www.johangrimonprez.be/main/Film_ShadowWorld_Synopsis.html

http://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/events/event/11198/

 

 

NUIT DEBOUT

12916111_1709438362667393_3974369689208030479_oIn her reading last night, thursday april 7th at the Audiatur Festival, french writer Nathalie Quintane insisted on an extra text, departing from her book ’Tomates’ that she was invited to read from. In an urgent adress she told us about the ongoing occupation of Place de la Republique in Paris; the NuitDebout (Night on Our Feet). The occupation is attempting to install a direct democracy, deciding everything by voting. This might be a slow process, but there is no haste. As she claimed: ”This is march 38th. This anomaly month might go on for weeks, for hundreds or maybe even for thousands of days….”. By reorganising the calendar in this manner; by claiming a different measure of days, NuitDebout is establishing nothing less than an autonome time zone. The revolt exists in another measure of time. Another world is not only possible – it exists. In the outstretched month of March another world exists.

This new society builds on a similar ’poetic re-claiming of functions’ as I wrote about in my last entry. It reminds closely of the Active Time, that the danish anthropologist Stine Krøyer has written about:

”People become activists by becoming engaged, absorbed or involved in common activity. Against this background, we can define as autonomy the temporal space of social relations that opens up when activists are engaged in common activities, which extends the concept from one relating to physical space. Better even, the space of social relation can be conceptualized as an autonomous bracket or interstice, that is, an interval of active time in the all-encompassing dead time of capitalism.”

The occupation of Place de la Republique and other places throughout France can be conceptualized as an interval of active time in the all-encompassing dead time of capitalism. The ongoing month of March is an autonomous interstice of active democracy in president Hollande’s dead and stiffened state of emergency. The ongoing month of March is a new common. The ongoing month of March is a new society.

Note

The quote on March 38th by Nathalie Quintane is my recollection, and thus not a proper quote. The other quote is taken from Stine Krøijer: FIGURATIONS OF THE FUTURE Forms and temporality of left radical politics in northern Europe, PhD thesis (Copenhagen: Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen 2011) p. 95-96.

Links

#NuitDebout

http://www.facebook.com/NuitDebout/?fref=ts

http://www.audiatur.no/festival/?lang=en

DIRECT ACTION

Private property–and capitalism, by extension–is intrinsicly violent and repressive and cannot be reformed or mitigated…When we smash a window, we aim to destroy the thin veneer of legitimacy that surrounds private property rights. At the same time, we exorcize that set of violent and destructive social relationships which has been imbued in almost everything around us. By “destroying” private property, we convert its limited exchange value into an expanded use value. A storefront window becomes a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet (at least until the police decide to tear-gas a nearby road blockade)…Broken windows can be boarded up (with yet more waste of our forests) and eventually replaced, but the shattering of assumptions will hopefully persist for some time to come.

This is a quote from a communiqué by the ACME Collective, one of the groups in the so-called Black Bloc. As part of the protests of the Globalization Movements against WTO on November 30, 1999 in Seattle, the Black Bloc attacked a series of shops, companies and other capitalist targets, smashing windows and ’defacing’ facades.

The attacks by the Black Block has a double meaning: They are at the one hand real; real attacks on real capitalist businesses. On the another level they are a ’shattering of assumptions’; an exorcizing of ‘that set of violent and destructive social relationships which has been imbued in almost everything around us’. This shattering and exorcising of the capitalist spell is both real and symbolic, but the two levels are dependent on each other. The real action can only be justified because it has a symbolic meaning, and the symbolic meaning only has an effect when it is actualized by being performed in the real. The shattering and exorcising of meaning and the poetic re-claiming of functions are about recreating the world around us, reclaiming it. It is about creating another world, another society. A very real, new reality. In the Communiqué it is manifested in very simple, basic ways; i.e. ‘a newspaper box becomes (..) an object to improve one’s vantage point by standing on it’.

The important point here: The real action can only be justified because it has a symbolic meaning, and the symbolic meaning only has an effect when it is actualized by being performed in the real. The image has to be performed in the real.

Notes

This text is a re-edited version of a text from my phd-project ‘Aesthetics of Resistance’ and was presented as part of my contribution to the ‘Constitutions, Human Rights and Public Knowledge Workshop’ at Cape Town University, April 4-6 2016.

Links

The full communiqué by the ACME Collective can be found at:

http://depts.washington.edu/wtohist/Research/documents/black_bloc_communique.htm