10 05 06
The Gothic Style Lives in the Legs of the Cowboys
conclusion was quite depressing: Displaying your own corruption, and pulling
the mask off the face of the institution, doesn’t destroy the fetish-character
of the commodity in the end. Like the demolition of the picture-frame or the
bourgeois superstructure, it doesn’t lead to enlightenment and revolution, but
at the end of the day - it can be sold as well.
disappointing bottom line: after painting as an ideal, irreproducible
exchangeable object had been swallowed by the market completely (like the work
in art spaces in general), and interventions, „like all alternatives“,
supposedly only lead to the „optimization of the system“(as they say), I had,
like many, put my hopes on the unadorned but functional lifeboat named
I know what
I am speaking about, because I have recently taken part in a few exhibitions.
In their desire to devote themselves to a theme or the so-called reality, these
shows have gone quite far in the disciplines „giving up a critical point of
view“ and „ignorance about artistic approaches“. An example: in the frame of
one of these projects, a ZDF chief editor was
sent by the Austrian project leader at the expense of the Kulturstiftung des
Bundes to Moldova. Here,
a celebrated video-artist (shown at least in Documenta11) was taught the
concept of „format-TV“. Quickly a cumbersome performance video had been
re-edited into a jaunty identity-clip in MTV-style. Around it, a toothless
telecast was formatted, in all its harmlessness still too offensive for the
German television man. Workshopped to such an extent, the colleague presented
his new learnings in a congress, intended as an international artistic
exchange, as if he had found Columbus’
egg, and as if „the normative power of the factual“ had never been criticised.
When I witnessed
this art, robbing on its knees in front of the status quo to such an extend,
accompanied by a language tail wagging between therapy-group slang,
NATO-operation vocabulary, and the justifying chatters of the state funded
interventionists, a desire arose in me:
a yearning for sharp segregation, for the Grand Refusal, for negation,
Ad Reinhardt, autonomy, trench warfare, being-right, two litre value packs of
red wine, and unbroken, unquestioned, unwashed, authentic stinking subjective
artists, who break the filters off the cigarettes before they smoke.
Is the situation really that sinister? The other day I withdrew myself from the
world and into bed with my girlfriend, when fun and enlightenment came in
through the Television in the shape of Terence Hill. The title of the movie was
super and promised consolation and contrariness in hopeless times: „Darn it,
Damn it, and Hallelujah!“ (Man
of the East, 1972). Even more super was Hill’s entrance in the following scene
– actually, the climax of the movie. In it, the actor displays, with a dodge,
what art can do, and what artists should do:
institution shown in the scene is the western-unavoidable duel with the rival.
Up to this point, Hill always had avoided the duel: he found it silly and did
not want to be pigeonholed into the Oedipal triangle of the Western-Movie, and
he didn’t want to participate in its male initiation rites, either. Much rather
he preferred to cycle through the Wild West in his Oxford-suit and
to do his Yoga exercises. But
in the end he can’t avoid the fight. His deceased dad’s boozing companions
teach him to shoot and ride, and how to make your opponent insecure with fierce
looks or sure-of-victory-grins. Finally our hero rides into high street.
Instead of picking off his enemy with his new self-confidence (while getting
his competitor out of his way, subjecting himself, through this act, under the
oedipal order), Hill does something completely different, that is to say, first
a gymnastic exercise on the horse: a virtuoso, half-minute-long headstand.
Hill succeeds in propelling himself out of an oedipalising situation, and
moreover succeeds in blowing up the Western-Format - with such a lasting
effect, that it actually has become impossible to ever shoot a duel-scene again
after this: the duel to end all duels.
good artist, Terence Hill does not back away into the ivory tower of the
institution, but mingles with the people. I find the current rejection of the
idea of immanence understandable, but the return to critical theory, pure art
in the white cube and an adornoesque distance from
the profane world, as it is suggested by some academics, is neither possible,
nor desirable – as this separating thinking and this type of fictional distance
has been rightly criticised as „royal science“.
But for the
trip into the real life, Terence Hill can give you an advice or two: Play,
first, the game following your rules, your agenda; look at the world from a
different perspective; introduce a new, artistic language and invalidate the
language of the ruling institution. Second: for a dialogue with civil society –
do not turn up unarmed.
 Dan Graham: Dean Martin / Entertainment as Theatre, in: Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writings by Contemporary Artists, Vol. 2, Ed. Brian Wallis
 ZDF – Second German Television, the second biggest public (state-run) television station in Germany
 German cultural foundation for the arts
 Literal translation of the German title: Verflucht, Verdammt und Halleluja!
 Interesting in our case: Hill plays a guy returning from the English University to the West and the low lands of real life, named „Sir Thomas More“.
 In this scene, Hill says the significant sentence: „Man! Do not forget, you are still an animal!“ Deleuze & Guattari before Deleuze & Guattari... Terence Hill’s exercises in becoming-an-animal:
 Analogous to those orthodox leftist groups that criticised the EZLN, arguing that you can not change the world with poems, and analogous to the current cyclical turn against Negri & Hardt and their concept of immanence in the name of the pure doctrine.
 Read as „White Cube“ here. Also see: Anne Querrien’s research on the Gothic Cathedral builders using „minor“ or nomadic sciences. The medieval builders worked with intuitive (Archimedian) static, that was able to calculate tension – in contrast to Euclidian mathematics, stuck to gravity (royal science). This groundbreaking research by Anne Querrien from the late seventies has still not been published. References to it in: Deleuze, Guattari: 1000 Plateaus, Chapter 12, 1227; Treatise on Nomadology - the War Machine.
other languagesThe Gothic Style Lives in the Legs of the Cowboys Die Gothik lebt in den Beinen der Cowboys