Readings for Art Users #6
Diogenes, Duchamp and rejection (of art, work and others)
Illustration: Krzysztof Pyda
The team of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw welcomes you to a new series of seminars accompanying the exhibitions "Making Use", "Bread and Roses" and "Why We Have Wars".
With reference to the legacy of flying universities, F/SUW organizes a series of self-educational meetings for users of art. Readings' participants will assemble a theoretical toolkit, which will enable them to operate freely within a vocabulary and concepts crucial for understanding the role and position of art in the contemporary world.
Marcel Duchamp is commonly seen as the founding father of modern art. What is interesting, though, is that Duchamp's attitude towards art was at the very least ambivalent. Art to him had so little importance that instead of positioning himself in direct opposition to it, he would rather play chess or leave found objects at the gallery. This was because Duchamp regarded art as a form of work, which is problematic unless it is completely pointless, and therefore should be simply avoided.
In other words, Duchamp can be understood as a radical advocate of laziness who not only says that making art is not worth it, but also that it is not worth anything to devote oneself to anti-art, because it requires too much effort. He believed that at most one could spend several hours a day on molecular aesthetic and existential shifts. It should be underlined that by withdrawing from art, Duchamp also withdrew from other socially defined categories - ones relating to gender, class and profession. Duchamp as such can be interpreted as a rejection classic (rejecting work, but not only), just like the contemporary social philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato sees it. He compares Duchamp's ascetism to antiquity's cynics’ existential techniques. During the seminar, in order to discuss the validity of this unconventional interpretation, we will juxtapose excerpts from Maurizio Lazzarato’s last book Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work (2014) with fragments of Diogenes Laertius's Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (3rd century CE) and examples of artistic escapology.
The texts in Polish will be distributed a week before the seminar in response to an e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org titled Czytanki dla Użytkowników Sztuki. In addition, printed copies will also be available at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The meeting will be conducted in Polish in the auditorium located at the first floor of Emilia Pavilion.
The team of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw invites to a new series of seminars accompanying the exhibition "Making Use: Life in Postartistic Times"about Readings for Art Users. With reference to the legacy of flying universities, F/SUW organizes a series of self-educational meetings for users of art. Readings' participants will assemble a theoretical toolkit, which will enable them to operate freely within a vocabulary and concepts crucial for understanding the role and position of art in the contemporary world.
Seminars will refer directly to the exhibitions organized simultaneously at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw ("Making Use. Life in the Post-Artistic Era", "Why We Have Wars. The Art of Modern-Day Outsiders", "Bread and Roses. The Strategies of Class Identification"), grounding theoretical reflection in the most recent curatorial and artistic developments.
The cycle will serve as a discursive platform, taking on such questions as:
- What is the use value of art?
- Is art purposeless?
- What does making use mean in such a context?
- Are we living in postartistic times?
- Does an avantgardistic dream of fusing art with life remain an unreachable horizon?
- Can art facilitate radical changes in society and everyday life?
- What is artistic competence?
- How does this extend to other domains of life?
- What kind of plausible art worlds are there?
- What is the value of institutions sustaining artistic autonomy?
- Is the art world capable, and under which conditions, to empower disenfranchised communities?
- What brings together DIY enthusiasts with hackers?
- What kind of work is being conducted by users of social media?
One of the main texts to resurface over the course of several seminars will be "Towards a Lexicon of Usership" by Canadian philosopher Stephen Wright. This work is to be juxtaposed with canonical texts (Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Schiller) and contemporary positions (Howard Becker, Hakim Bey, Claire Bishop, Yann Moulier Boutang, Peter Bürger, Guy Debord, Hal Foster, Miwon Kwon, Lucy Lippard, Jerzy Ludwiński, Jacques Rancière, McKenzie Wark).