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Wong Ping: Still from ”Who is the Daddy" – courtesy of Edouard Malingue Gallery and the artist
Language can never be private
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Alexander García Düttmann

What does “emancipatory” mean today?

Pretending one more time that the world can still be saved and asking whether art contains an emancipatory potential can be a meaningful endeavour only if illegitimate attempts at appropriating this emancipatory potential are thwarted. Its usurpation, which amounts to its abolition, must be prevented. Critique that deserves its name must first and foremost struggle against false pretenders, not against those who do not even claim to be pretenders. The efficiency of critique’s propaedeutic character should be sought in this struggle against false pretenders. If one fears that its negativity may entail a dangerous impotence and if for this reason one wishes to supplement it with a justifying and constructive “affirmationism”, mindful of the fact that it was once meant to prepare the outline of a metaphysics purged of precritical dogmatism, then one risks forgetting that critique ceases to hurt and can no longer trigger an impulse the instant that...

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  • contemporary art
  • critical theory
  • aesthetics
  • morals
  • political aesthetics
On the boundaries of what is permissible to show
On the boundaries of what is permissible to show

Christian Beetz, Hendrik Rohlf

Catalysts of Radicalization

On the way to a digital society, we’re probably at one of the great crossroads in human civilization. The problem is that people have no images for what’s coming their way, and therefore can’t imaging a digital society. For me this is one of the most important and exciting issues around. I once tried without success to make a film about Apple—among other things I was interested in how the most successful corporation in the world was able to maintain...
Arts
About ‘how we treat the others’

Artur Żmijewski

About ‘how we treat the others’

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  • gift
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  • Poland
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  • documenta
  • contemporary art
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  • concentration camp
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An immodest proposal
An immodest proposal

Stephen Barber

A War of Fragments: World Versus America

J.G. Ballard’s self-declared ‘Immodest Proposal’ for a global war-­alliance to exact the destruction of America demonstrates the provocatory zeal of his last fiction plans, as well as their enduring prescience. As Ballard emphasises several times in the World Versus America notebooks, he is utterly serious in his concerns and visions. Although the Ballard ­estate declined permission for any images of pages from the World Versus America archival notebooks to accompany this essay, any member of the general public interested to do...
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Fiction

Diane Williams

How about some string?

I said “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”
“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”
“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”
“Any poison ivy on that? ” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.
He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.
“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.
And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.
I had settled down to pack up the flamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped briefly, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?
I saw our milk cows in their slow...

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Fiction

Maël Renouard

On Memory Atrophy

Externalized memory had always proceeded by contractions, summaries, reductions, selections, breaks in flow, as well as by organization, classification, boiling down. Card catalogues reduced thousands of works to a few key notions; tables of contents contracted the hundreds of pages in a given book. The sign itself was the first abbreviation of experience. An epic stitched of words was an abbreviation of the war, the long years of which were reduced to a few nights of recitation; the written text that recorded the epic was a contraction of the oral narration which pushed aside its sensory richness, melody, life in a thousand details. In accumulating, every level of abbreviation reconstituted an infinite flow, a new dilation that would be contracted in its turn. From the plurality of pages to the index and the table of contents; from the plurality of books to card catalogues.

The abbreviated elements were further arranged, situated...

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Digital disrupture
Digital disrupture

Dieter Mersch

Digital Criticism

We really need an analysis of algorithmic conditions and their paradoxes and ambiguities that gives them an adequate framework and horizon. But instead we currently seem to be finding an algorithmic solution of the algorithmic, much as digital solutions are being offered for the problems of the digital public sphere, in the way that IT corporations, for example, use exclusively mathematical procedures to evaluate and delete “fake news,” inappropriate portrayals, or the violation of personal rights. This tends to result...
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Blood!
Blood!

Ines Kleesattel

Art, Girls, and Aesthetic Freedom Down Below

In Riehen, Basel, as part of a Balthus retrospective, Thérèse rêvant is being shown with an expectedly large media echo. And I’m going to take a look at her, because the Diaphanes publishers have suggested launching the “Collisions” section with a text about Balthus. Of all people. I’d rather not—on the one hand. After all, with his questionable preference for adolescent girls, Balthus has already received more than enough attention. Attention that until his death in 2008 he provoked with...
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  • gender
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  • art history
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Humanities

Maria Filomena Molder

So many egoists call themselves artists…

“So many egoists call themselves artists,” Rimbaud wrote to Paul Demeny on May 15, 1871. Even though that is not always obvious, ‘I’, the first person, is the most unknown person, a mystery that is constantly moving towards the other two, the second and third persons, a series of unfoldings and smatterings that eventually gelled as ‘Je est un autre’. That is why ‘apocryphal’ is a literarily irrelevant concept and ‘pseudo’ a symptom, the very proof that life, writing, is made up of echoes, which means that intrusions and thefts (Borges also discusses them) will always be the daily bread of those who write.

Words from others, words taken out of place and mutilated: here are the alms of time, that squanderer’s sole kindness. And so many others, mostly others who wrote, and many other pages, all of them apocryphal, all of them echoes, reflections. All this flows together into—two centuries...

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