Edited by Jacob Lund and Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, issue no. 49-50 of the Nordic Journal of Aesthetics is dedicated to “Art, Remembrance and History.” In addition to articles by the editors, Gene Ray, Gavin Grindon, Ernst van Alphen, Terry Smith and Peter Osborne, it also contains my essay “Apocalypse (Not) Now,” which examines artistic and activist responses to Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and the daily (un)reality of the post-war nuclear regime.
I will continue to work on the subject matter in lectures and a final(ish) article or book chapter. Unfortunately, a few typos and other glitches made it into this text -including, most embracing, the year 1946 for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. That year was supposed to go with Wolfgang Paalen’s play The Beam of the Balance, which responds to that event. While I’m a Gutenbergian, one vexing aspect of print is that these things stare everyone in the face and continue to be overlooked till it’s too let and the text is set in ink on paper.
Image: papillon advertising a 1958 tract against nuclear power written by André Breton and signed by a number of Surrealists and hangers-on.
The November/December 2015 issue (no. 96) of New Left Review contains my essay “Personafication.” Typo-prone though I am, the title is a deliberate attempt at a pun. The text investigates the crafting and deployment of a public persona as an aesthetic or political strategy. In addition to individual personae as as an externalized or objectified self, the text also discusses the persona ficta or juridical person, and artistic and activist versions of the persona dicta (which can at times take the form of doubly fictitious personae). Along the way, cases and practices are discussed that range from Fluxus artists to the Belgian Surrealist Marcel Mariën, Beuys and Schlingensief, the Invisible Committee and the Otolith Group—and, for good measure, Michael Serres’ revival of Auguste Comte’s notion of the Great Fetish, and Bruno Latour’s use of the conceptual persona of Gaia.
The text was triggered in part by my discussions with a student, Jesse van Winden, who wrote and excellent thesis on the artist’s persona and who recently co-edited an issue of the journal Kunstlicht (which is affiliated with the art & culture department of the Vrije Universiteit, where I teach) on the topic. In this issue, I discuss the V-Girls and introduce a section from one of their performance scripts, Academia in the Alps: In Search of the Swiss Mis(s).
Image: propaganda for Christoph Schlingensief’s political party, Chance 2000 (1998).
Issue no. 100 of Texte zur Kunst, which is also the magazine’s 25th anniversary issue, is dedicated to “The Canon.” In my contribution, titled “Falling Apart, Together,” I reflect on canons and counter-canons, on institutionalization and fragmentation, on consensus, filter bubbles and the proliferation of Other Criteria.
It’s that man again: the illustration shows the first and the latest issue of Texte zur Kunst, from 1990 and 2015, respectively.