THE ART OF IDEOLOGY & THE IDEOLOGY OF ART
"Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist… Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art… making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." Andy Warhol
The art of criticism
"…the desire for an authentic life serves as one example of where there is a potential of a radical break with the values of this society." Kevin H. 'The Real Thing' in "Here and Now" #2
The desire for authenticity is the most cynical of all the pseudo-needs manufactured by bourgeois ideologists. Capitalism offers up the spectacle of its own inadequacy and then uses this spectacle as the means of reselling itself to those who 'imagine' they have 'progressed' beyond bourgeois values in a 'return' to the 'authentic'. From health food to anarchism we are bombarded with a thousand and one alternative forms of misery: and while those who believe themselves to be 'different' and 'individual' cling desperately to their 'own' pseudo-brand of 'authenticity', there are others who recognise the social nature of (wo)mankind, the necessity of communist revolution and of a radical break with bourgeois values.
The criticism of art
"In art theory those who would avoid a simple inversion of the code raise themselves to a position of superiority that surveys codes." John Young and Terry Blake "On Some Alternatives To The Code In The Age Of Hyperreality"
While those who make a living from the pseudo-criticism of art choose to rise above commitment to life, there are others who take the distinction between the present and its permanent deferral seriously. The latter are committed to the abolition of time and all other social abstractions; in particular the privileged sphere of 'art'. The work of art is never produced but always reproduced from the reifications of bourgeois ideology. Supposedly rising above ideological constructions, the work of art actually descends beneath them to the lowest layer of ideological production; from this point it can more effectively partake in the endless reproduction of capitalist 'social' relations. Spawn of bourgeois mystification, art must necessarily disappear when the social system it supports is overthrown. The successful completion of proletarian revolution will coincide with the abolition of art and all other forms of creativity and 'self-expression'.
"Seeing the Sex Pistols for the first time was like awakening from a 14 year sleep. Or so it seemed, but then I never really saw the Pistols, I never saw them live, I only saw tv footage." Mike Kemp "Punk In The Suburbs"
There is nothing that makes seeing a pop group in a club or concert hall more 'real' than watching them on a tv screen. However, under capitalism television is simultaneously promoted as the 'universal' medium of technological society and yet somehow 'inferior' to the very communication systems it has replaced. Thus what should have been rendered obsolete is magically granted a privileged status on the grounds that it is somehow more 'authentic'. But then as anybody who has been on the scene of a disaster knows, these events only gain any real power once they have been processed by the media. The ideology of the 'authentic' is used to sell us the pseudo-alternative of the out-dated; simultaneously it reinforces bourgeois social relations by presenting us with the spectacle of choice under Capital.
The Art of Refusal and the Refusal of Art
"We must liquidate this crazy thing called art to make it possible for all people everywhere to be creative. It is our duty to become self-destructive in a constructive way. We must liquidate not only our own function as artists but we must liquidate the art system as well." From the "Manifesto of The International Coalition for the Liquidation of Art"
To demand the destruction of art in the name of creativity is merely a reform of Power. To trade off art against creativity is to take back with one hand what has been rejected by the other. Those who genuinely oppose alienated social relations will not only break with art but affirm the refusal of creativity.
The Art of Suffering and Suffering for Art
"The arts are a growing concern. They enrich the quality of our lives. And they enrich us financially too." From a leaflet issued by The National Campaign for the Arts
What 'individual' artists suffer in the creation of bourgeois ideology is nothing compared to the damage they inflict on society as a whole. If artists suffer they cannot suffer enough; they deserve all the horrors of hell. It is high time these pathetic excuses for humanity learnt that the world doesn't revolve around them; that it is quite natural that proletarians, who are locked in mortal combat with the bourgeois patrons of 'serious culture', should only take a negative and destructive interest in works of art.
International campaign for the Abolition of Work and All Forms of Creativity
"Through the production of an art commodity, the artist has become a businessman. In order to market his commodity and increase its commercial value, he must create a mystique about himself and his work. The gallery is the means through which the commodity is dispensed. The museum serves the purpose of sanctifying both the commodity and the artist. The collector is the stock speculator. The corporation patrons use the commodity as a sanctification and sanitization of their image. The art magazines are the trade journals, the financial reports of the art world. And the critic serves the function of whip hand for all." Guerrilla Art Action Group "Toward A New Humanism"
Those of us who will be making a total break with all forms of creativity between 1990 and 1993 are not interested in the new humanisms of individuals who speak so as not to be. For a minimum of three years we will not create art, texts or philosophies. Since we are interested in the destruction of this society, we view the humanists of both left and right - imbeciles seeking petty reforms - as our avowed enemies, whose liquidation will be necessary before we can dissolve this world of appearances.
Stewart Home, first published in Smile #9, London 1986. Reprinted in Neosim, Plagiarism & Praxis by Stewart Home (AK Press, 1995).
Curation and Violence at the ICA
London Art Tripping (psychogeography of 50 years of bohemianism)
Andre Stitt (live art and shamanism)
How To Improve The World (Hayward show of Arts Council Collection)
THE ASSAULT ON AUTHENTICITY
The notion of 'radical inauthetnicity' was an inevitable by-product of the meeting of post-Situationist practices and 'post-modern' culture in the 1980s. Between 1984 and 1989 I used the publication Smile to stage an ongoing assault on notions of authenticity (see for example the text on the left of this, first published in 1986). I'm not sure when I started using the phrase 'radically inauthentic' but it was certainly applied to my "Art Strike Bed" in talks I gave from the mid-nineties onwards; and I have used the term 'radical inauthenticity' at least as recently as 2004 in the text "Paint It Black". Others have been using the phrase quite independently of me, and quite possibly before me too.
Obviously the term "radical inauthenticity" is in part a dig at Raoul Vaneigem and his empty rhetoric about 'radical subjectivity'. In "The Revolution of Everyday Life", Vaneigem spoke of 'a reversal of perspective', and by attacking the notions of 'authenticity' on which his quasi-revolutionary ideology rests we certainly achieve such a cognitive flip.
Recently I've been concentrating on the practical development of 'radical inauthenticity' via social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook etc. Therefore I'm very pleased that The International Necronautical Society intend to draw out the theoretical implications of this activity in a forthcoming Tate Britain lecture (to be delivered on 17 January 2009). To quote the promotional blurb: "The International Necronautical Society (INS) is an alliance of writers, artists and philosophers. In The Tate Declaration, INS Chief Philosopher Simon Critchley and General Secretary Tom McCarthy attack the self-serving ideology of 'authenticity' that pervades contemporary western culture, proposing instead a practice of radical inauthenticity."
This lecture forms part of "Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009" curated by Nicolas Bourriaud. The attempt to present 'radically inauthenticity' as related to the absurd concept of 'altermodernism' is bound to backfire on Bourriaud (an already ridiculous figure). It goes without saying that the INS have pulled off a prank of the highest order by conning Bourriaud into believing they are merely proposing a practice of 'radical inauthenticity', when I am merely one example of someone they know who has been engaged in such activities for more than a quarter of a century.
Getting Bourriaud to book this INS talk is a truly excellent joke on the part of Critchley and McCarthy. Likewise, since this 'genuinely' anti-ontological turn is a completely new departure for the INS, it looks like Critchley and McCarthy are now considerably more 'radically inauthentic' than me (and possibly even Michael Kearney)!
Capitalism can't go forwards, it can only go backwards, which is why I observed back in the mid-eighties that modernism and post-modernism are simply two stages in a single trajectory, or rather a process of involution. 'Altermodernism' is merely the latest and lamest attempt to cover up this - all too obvious - state of affairs.