m of care – mar 23

Between Fascism and Communism: the Aestheticization of Politics and the Politicization of Art


This is a follow-up of the reading group on Walter Benjamin’s text The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

m of care – feb 8

We ran out of time to read Timothy O’Leary’s text Fat, Felt and Fascism: The Case of Joseph Beuys.

This discussion will include the essay by Boris Groys On art activism, which makes reference both to Beuys and Marinetti whom “Benjamin calls as the crucial witness when, in the afterword to his famous essay about “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

Here is some more thoughts that Scott Thompson and I developing around these texts.

from ‘here’ link nika:

It seems to me, too, that the task of changing something is infinitely important, if only because it is the only way to freedom.

Perhaps the key phrase Marx said, which I definitely like, is “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

So the crucial question is how to change the status quo. For this, of course, we have to agree on general terms to understand what is actually going on. Academia, the art world or any other institution is not helpful in this. They certainly have no interest in changing anything, which is why I personally place great hopes on you and me, and on any other impartial party. 

If we compare musical notes with cash that can be lent to strangers by accurately calculating the interest on the loan if we compare musical notes with the mathematical laws of the golden ratio with which the ancient Greeks described “Beauty and Eternity,” it is clear that we are talking about the same thing everywhere: using technology to abstract and scale away from specific social relationships.  

David writes that the emergence of thee abstractions, appearing almost simultaneously in different parts of the world, was accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the sciences, philosophies, and arts and, at the same time, a surge of incredible violence and wars.
Yesterday we read chapter 11 of The Debt of 5000 Years and it seemed to me that when David wrote his last book on War, it was this chapter that he planned to develop and finish.

The description of FRANZ ERHARD WALTHER VS JOSEPH BEUYS Fights Club project was framing the following up discussions.

notes/quotes from 66 min video:

simona: on connections between art and politics

1 min – scott thompson: quick intro to tim o leary’s article on beuys and question if article was fascist.. beuys misconception that politics could become a matter of aesthetics.. o leary: ‘uncontrolled application of outmoded concepts: creativity, genius, mystery.. leads to a processing of data in a fascist sense.. all efforts to render politics aesthetic culminates in one thing – war’..

7 min – scott: david in giant puppets.. revive sacred and used to diffuse situations of potential violence

giant puppets et al

14 min – scott: would the aestheticization of a centralized/heterogeneous network of aesthetic and political enclaves based on a fallen equal participation.. voluntary association .. direct democracy.. and a non vanguardist revolutionary practice produce the same result as a fascist aestheticization of politics

(to me) yes.. any form of m\a\p.. which to me includes any form of democratic admin.. voluntary compliance.. et al

scott: how would a non vanguardist revolutionary art practice based on a tactical use of ritual work.. *would an art practice based on a liminal concept of ritual be capable of generating new models or forms of social org.. **are even the most democratic of the spaces dependent on the sovereign violence/authority of the artist as their legislature.. i’ll stop there or you’ll end up as confused as i am..

*(to me) no.. same song

**(to me) yes.. so to me.. not legit free art\ists et al

16 min – nika: how i understand .. the question is.. there is politics as we know that and there is art as we agree now what is art and what is politics.. i totally with scott that .. whole convo for me started w bumping into the article of tim oleary about beuys.. where he accused him of using rituals.. and suggested that we may digitalize art.. and so it was totally obvious that it’s not possible with them.. even if it would be desirable..

17 min – nika: but then we started to dig farther and read a bunch of other texts.. ie: groys text.. i think is really clear about art and activism.. asking same questions about connection between art and politics.. according to groys.. he’s clarifying.. what do we mean by art.. contemp art.. and he’s talking about art that was born after french revolution.. turning old art into the museum.. groys pointing out that all that really was a design.. so answer in this case by groys.. doing literally specific part of church world.. they didn’t design whole church.. in contemp art artists claiming to design vision of world.. so working in politics.. not just designing uniform.. so political technology

art – being human et al

and if that.. art (by day/light) and sleep (by night/dark) as global re\set.. to fittingness (undisturbed ecosystem)

19 min – nika: why i asked simona to moderate and for steven to come.. for me..

20 min – nika: the core answer is the following (that is my opinion about relationship between art and politics)..groys like angel in benjamin’s piece.. talking about past.. trying to see future that already happens and its a disaster..

21 min – nika: i think the problem here is not about the rituals.. but loss and belief in this loss.. that we all believe in crazy laws that drive our society.. have to lead us to proletariat dictatorships.. artist supposed to serve these universal laws.. like you were saying scott

22 min – nika: so answer would be.. if you make these rituals as carnival.. no such thing as dictatorship.. diff kind of org that we can have rituals.. and some really harmful for us as human.. ie: belief in existence of outside laws.. bigger than humans.. but we can understand them and make them work and build our societal relationship according to these laws

24 min – nika: groys summary: discussing design.. something very like application.. not collected to this amazing b clause.. (?).. so one important contribution was architect tone that was models of future houses.. we are living in these houses now.. i am rowley way.. but it wasn’t just application.. it was universal claim of his vision he tried to promote how humanity should believe according to him..so that’s the separation between politics and art that groys is saying in this article.. is wrong

25 min – scott: ah.. you think it’s wrong.. good

nika: of course.. why

26 min – scott: i found it quite confusing nika.. he says in activism essay.. that benjamin wasn’t using aestheticization in sense of design but more in artistic..

nika: um.. groys.. i think what is very important is everybody is using same words.. design, art,.. but everybody means diff by them.. so for this convo i think we should decide on common understanding of term and go from that

27 min – scott: i would see aesthiticization as glorifying.. making feurer legit.. but he (groys says in that essay that’s not how he’s using it)

nika: yes.. groys is saying that design is application.. but then it exists the art.. so he’s making contradiction between design.. something low and art.. something universal/big.. the bigger values..

28 min – christian: in beginning confusion mentioned several times.. probably benjamin more that groys.. like good lyrics.. people can take something away that nobody else would.. graeber ‘do we read classics or do classics read us’.. he saw something new in things that had been there long time..

29 min – christian: i find it hard to resolve them.. can you use art in political activism.. yes.. but then have to start with.. what is art.. all have diff defns.. for groys.. everything he defines as art is political (?)

30 min – christian: not sure if this is true.. but the.. ‘art can make the hidden thing visible’.. which is also things he says.. you take something and it exposes about our modern society as a dead thing.. you put it on a pedestal in museum so can see it’s already dead.. so maybe you can only make things visible and then from this realization that the thing you made visible is dead.. it stops working so to speak..

to me.. this is huge.. naming the colour ness.. defn/observe ness as killer .. society of spectacle (book) et al

31 min – like mcluhan.. medium is message.. then changes.. this is basically .. i think groys is clearer than benjamin

simona: i will add to confusion.. just have random thoughts about it.. not sure i understood 1/2 of what scott says.. so i will answer randomly suggestions.. 1\ ritual/sacred 2\ use art for politics.. i’d say first thing is to use art is a fascist idea.. what you can use from out 99% pov.. that everybody is an artist.. breaking up of separation of art and profane reality.. the thing i think both david and benjamin were fighting was this separation between profane and sacred/not-profane.. it is separation that creates hierarchy/power.. it is the very fact to pretend there is something more universal/true.. than day by day life.. so day by day creations are setting up hierarchies and power

34 min – simona: what carnival does is de-secularize (?) carnival is a form of art.. the masquerade/joke/giant-puppets.. a collective de-secularization of reality.. dismantle this idea that some are more universal.. like david says about manners.. and this is the sacred ritual that has to be dismantled

manners, defer, private property et al

36 min – simona: this essay by benjamin we should put it in context.. it’s an outrage to marxists.. it’s also an attempt to connect/take on the leftist side.. some ideas of futurism.. i think this is the reality benjamin is talking about.. but one thing i think he doesn’t see is the very medium of art.. the broadcasting creates a one to many situation .. a form of sacred.. where people not any more aware that art and abstraction are an abstraction from what they create day by day

38 min – simona: one more thing about ritual.. as distinguished from sacred.. ritual/myth are collective expressions.. become fetishes when we forget they are our creation/projection.. actually nothing bad about fetishes.. as long as we remember we can destroy and recreate them.. just as we recreate our collective engagements.. so art is just an expression of all of this.. and the fascism is when it becomes sacred.. when it pretends to be universal.. and also when you think of it as a separated thing that can be used..t if it’s our collective creation of everyday life.. it’s an expression of our collective ability to create.. it cannot be sacred

40 min – nika: i think it’s much more clear simona.. can i ask you.. sacred same as ritual.. always exists.. problem is only when they’re fixed.. anything that pretends to be above human.. absolute.. make us do the same.. it’s always something sacred and something profane.. problem when violence impose on this to fix rules.. t

42 in – nika: so if have mech in society to constantly re org then things will work well.. and that’s why beuys is totally correct to my opinion when he is saying.. if everybody is an artist then things will go well because everybody will have access to re-creation.. constantly remaking of what we think are sacred/ritual..


imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us so we can org and re org and re org around legit needs

(tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness)

art (by day/light) and sleep (by night/dark) as global re\set.. to fittingness (undisturbed ecosystem)

43 min – scott: i do agree nika.. about the importance of things not being static.. so beuys.. talks about theory of sculpture as metaphor for movements oscillation between cold/hard form.. that it doesn’t become static.. constantly moving from one to the other

max: i made an animation that i think contributes.. i read some of eisenstein.. the russian film guy.. on plasticity.. (shares screen video clay animation like.. where rabbit ? ends up covered in clay and becomes the hand – making it?)

45 min – max: my response to this.. my frustration of environ.. art is a way to challenge.. finding ways of change.. animation as postponing our disbelief.. this ability to charge of my realm – having to be at work for 8 hrs.. something about the skills we own in our lives and how we work together..

47 min – steven: that actually gets at one of things that fascinates me about this topic.. that also leads to the confusion.. the distinction between ritual and aesthetic value .. seems to be opposition of these two realms of value creation.. that ritual and aesthetic are separate.. and not sure i see that.. ie: ritual value produced.. when one does ritual.. it creates a separation.. sacred from profane.. as reproduced.. hierarchy in that separation can widen.. as ritual expands form being just a micro cosmic into macro cosmic unit.. individual actor to fetishistic performance and can take on a factor of degrees..

49 min – steven: but what has me curious .. is .. is there a distinction between an aesthetic and ritual value.. because to me it seems everything is inherently a ritual value because everything is ultimately an expansion of some micro cosmic unit that analytically we can get down to that micro cosmic.. i’m speaking in structuralist terms.. down to that basic unit of analysis

to me.. sounds like.. infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness

50 min – steven: that’s where i’m left kind of wondering if even these distinctions are fair ones to make.. or perhaps i’ve misread everything and they’re not really making these distinctions..

nika: i can ask more clarification.. why do you think repetition of every ritual will widen the gap between profane/sacred.. could be liberatory ritual.. ie: carnival.. doing the opposite.. as some theatres do..

51 min – steven: that’s precisely what i’m getting at.. unless deliberate efforts to combat the tyranny of structurelessness.. then there has to be those deliberate refusals.. and scott mentioned this.. like the giant puppets piece.. the simultaneous dismantling and constructing.. . t

freeman structure law (?).. structureless\ness.. et al

52 min – steven: that’s where i think ritual behavior.. i was so happy to hear simona mention the manners piece.. because sacredness is associated w avoidance.. so there is an avoidance.. that as that avoidance gets reproduced.. it can become more fixed.. i agree it isn’t inherently fixed.. but i tend to think in the absence of some kind of mech to work against its solidification it will have a tendency to solidify.. t but i don’t know

to me.. i’d say that’s what we need detox for.. to me.. in an undisturbed ecosystem (where everyone was legit free to dance) we’d dismantle and recreate as our being .. like breathing.. like we couldn’t not do that.. but today.. as whales in sea world.. intoxicated with fixed ness.. we do need that mech for for a global detox/re\set

ie: means/mech to undo hierarchical listening to self/others/nature .. imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us nothing rigid about that..

53 min – christian: isn’t that also what we talked about in debt reading group

steven: one of pieces david never got to finished.. he gave it as a paper in 2018 – on debt and servitude.. tries to tease out origins of capitalism.. which cuts against all major theories of origins of capitalism.. but i think he’s dead on.. that it began as this ritual of avoidance.. yet that avoidance at its heart was a level of intimacy.. because person brought in was royal retainer.. captured as prisoner war.. kings son/daughter/successor.. nothing to do w/art.. but how rituals of avoidance start at most intimate places typically

manners, defer, private property et al.. steiner care to oppression law et al..

54 min – nika: i think it has everything to do w/art.. esp contemp artists exist by redefining self constantly.. that’s actually good things about art

55 min – simona: i don’t know why.. but i keep thinking about (?) and his idea of the opposition between closed mass and the open one.. and his idea of metamorphosis.. closed one is the one that cannot change.. blocked from metamorphosis.. don’t know why it resonates w me in this context.. maybe you have an idea.. maybe about masses being closed or open..

56 min – max: closed mass as in mass of people..

simona: english word is crowds.. crowds and power.. most important opposition is one between undetermined spontaneous crowd.. forms in march.. and a crowd that is enclosed like in a stadium/church.. that is id’d and has inside/outside.. and the origins of war/power were all in the enclosure of crowds.. that distinction between enclosed crowd and external.. but i’m really taking discussion outside

59 mi – nika: for me it’s really clear.. i don’t have doubts of what’s going on.. i think benjamin is totally correct and why so popular.. confusion is confusion in terminology.. and we should just clarify it.. what we mean by: art, design, politics, ritual.. i think there is no such thing as only design anymore unless very pragmatic.. but i still think aestheticization of politics is fascistic and aestheticization of art is communistic.. equal access to all who want it.. sacred and profane always there.. no such thing as absent.. so that’s important to clarify

1:01 – simona: yes sacred and profane always there.. sacred reps projection of collective power/creativity.. i was referring to essay on fetishism.. always a dialectic.. sacred is a projection but as soon as we project.. it reflects our reality that is wider than each of ourselves.. that bad in it is when somebody pretends to represent these universal thing.. and when we forget even if it’s bigger than each one of ourselves.. it is still ourselves

1:02 – nika: and all contemp politics are built on that projection.. biden/putin.. claiming to be universal.. lots of people working very hard to design it as absolute.. very diff from medieval artist.. producing stuff inside overall system.. critical that it’s diff type of work/attitude..

1:03 – nika: so i think what we should all do is we should all engage in making as many carnivals as possible.. and spreading around the tech of how everybody can make them as many as possible..t

huge huge huge

ie: would happen via tech as it could be and imagine if we ness

1:04 – nika: that’s why i love extinction rebellion.. first who give people tools of how to create art movements that is political movements.. ie: produce flags/garments.. come together.. new art that’s no fascistic.. but very political..

simona: we should discuss extension rebellion italy .. because it looks quite diff from.. but this is another part..

extinction rebellion

simona: friend wants to discuss.. moma?.. a novel about banks storing our time.. and there is a movement wanting to get this time back






another art world et al




museum of care meetings

museum of care