Karin Schneider
Maniac Vicious Circles

September 17 - November 7, 2009


What is the meaning of “work” for those who are the producers of “art?”
This banal question, asked by JG for a publication she is organizing in Central America, is part of a phantasmagorical monologue I have been having since I started producing my first pieces. This question still permeates all my production. This monologue constitutes one of my main (non) work materials and its absent presence regularly prevents me from finding a proper definition of this “work.” However—this time—I will make an effort, and I will try to create a dialogue with you instead, and I hope we will be able, jointly, to disentangle this questioning. I will start this narrative, but I will leave to you the task of encountering the exact moment to liberate this piece of writing from this interrogation.


To read,
for Roland Barthes, is to work, therefore you are, while you read this text, working, and I, as the one who is writing it, am working as well, because I write my reading and vice versa. I am located somehow in this space, between my writing and your reading, inside this text that has been already formed and deformed many times. And, I hope, at a certain point, these lines will nearly embody their sense and at that instant, this text will be ready. It will be published and you will be the co-author, that will incorporate, dissolve, disseminate, delight in, ignore, repudiate, hate, ridicule, eject, and/or act out this experience. You will be between this text and your own (un)limited (in)capacity of letting yourself be absorbed by what will be (un)determined. The equality of our forces, the one who writes and the one who interprets, will be established by this double (in)formal experience, and in its margins of contraction and expansion of detouring to a pseudo text, we will, without violence or dialectic forces, be closely distant. These words are, therefore, a moment of a perturbed intimacy between you and me—it is a pause. It will be our —                   —, and I hope that you can transform it into something else. However, this writing, our work, will be manifested in a courageous fear. I will disclose my panic at writing and my inability to describe with concepts, the meaning of my “                   .” I will touch, thinking of you, the letters of my computer’s key-board forming these words and the rhythm of this writing will be the sounds I produce accidentally with my fingers. The meaning of these words will be marked by another logic, a sonorous logic that will maintain our contract of incommunicability.


life, words, texts, syllables, sounds, matter, silence, memories, corporal movements, political movements, images, savor, smells, the body, the mind, architecture, anger, frustration, desire, concepts, air are some of the many materials that are generally used to produce what we denote “work of art.” An “art piece” is generally recognized by us when an artist disrupts what we have until now designated limits “of perception”—and “of senses,” and “of meaning.” Nevertheless, this “art piece” has to be apprehended by the other, otherwise it is suspect. The nostalgia of the logos is in your hands though, and you—only you—can encounter the detour in your suffocating speech to perceive this inevitable event between us, that will permit us to breathe instead, and please, try to be faithful to it. Try to act somehow. You are consequently responsible for affirming that this expansion exists and that it is still possible. You have to act on these solitary words and take a position about your idle state. In the everyday everything is “everyday,” but you can affirm any “work” without frontiers. When what we call art work is produced, the artist is intrinsically in dialogue—or not—with you and with history (personal, of art, architecture, music, literature, philosophy, cinema, politics, economy, of information…), and she/he is not alone. Therefore, this (                   ) phantasmagorical solitary conversation is what produces the art work and it is what presumably gives it its sense. And please, never forget that you are part of this chain of “troops of meaning.” A single action is not sufficient. The circuit has to be completed by the other. An art work is also defined as such because it never can be completely devoured by anyone, not by you, nor by any culture. It is always open to acquiring more layers of meaning through time, because it can be eternally decoded, and its atemporality is what creates its multiple readings, as well as its fluxus of discourse that has the tendency to accumulate within time. A mythical time, without before or after. However, this process, oftentimes, following the logic of history, is inescapably submitted to the (pure) chance of the mind and it can be found in this amorphous space of hearing the unspeakable. And this hearing is inside your ear.


An artist (why not you?),
is denoted as such because, apparently, she/he can see what cannot be seen, can hear what cannot be heard, can write what cannot be written, can glance at what cannot be perceived, can read the empty spaces between words, can expand meaning, can be subversive, can be free, can produce from nothing, can live the reality as a fiction and vice versa, can affirm and can negate, can attack, can shit, can leap into the void, can steal, can deal drugs, can sabotage, can destroy, can be anti-establishment, can touch craziness, can get old, can create multiple personalities, can play chess, can proclaim silence, can (de)contextualize, can deny work, can produce ad infinitum, can live by leisure, can be underground, can deny the cultural machine, can deny or can affirm the production of desire’s machines, can avoid production, can play, can sustain any position in the terrain of the (im)possible, can affirm life, can fight for freedom, can understand the alienation of our society… But, all these powers appear to be well founded in the impotency of the formation of these (in)accessible truths and in their eternal circulation between certain spaces of negation and affirmation in the construction of an art work (of a life) of this multiple character (anyone), in which real and fictional are in a constant dialogue in this neurotic marriage of power and powerlessness that encounter themselves doubly twisted. The practice of the (non) act becomes, therefore, the only possibility of suspension of this character in this entanglement. In this entanglement’s fugue of meaning—yet to be determined—that lets her/him vocalize (act) from its lack and its silence. But, in this coming and going of signification, in which to be or not to be, to be visible or invisible, to produce or not produce financial capital (or symbolic capital), to work or not to work, to speak or not to speak, to generate doubt or certainty, to produce or to lack a form, to belong or not belong, to be desirable or not, there are some few examples of these spaces in which this (in)complete being exists. And the best possible transgression is her/his constant circulation among these semantically —and dualistically—claustrophobic codes so well defined. In reverse, in gener-ating multiple degrees of (in)visibilities and different speeds in these (non) silent discourses, this character, with absence of meaning, creates herself/himself from—among—these polymorphous spaces in which she/he emerges almost as an accident, as a constant and essential exercise of freedom, where form is content and discourse is practice.


The work of a multiple character,
therefore, beyond her/his (non)production, still has to be attentive in determining the places and (non) forms of her/his (non) action. She/he should be in a vigilant dialogue with our historical, economical, philosophical, political and cultural moments. Her/his/its perception and understanding of her/his/its (non) being in these worlds is what will determine her/his/its capacity to communicate the unspeakable, and to practice her/his/its speech inside our well codified information economy in a culture of global spectacle, that constantly devours her/him/it. To protect oneself (and attack, and participate) in this process is part of her/his/its raison d’être. To understand the spectacle and diminish its influence is possible on a personal level. Our habits and consumerism needs determine who we are. We share the same responsibilities. The cultural machine, we all know, reinforces certain artistic, political, literary, critical and/or poetical vicious languages and corrects discursive codes that supposedly communicate to an audience establishing a negative or affirmative —and critical—dialogue with its history. In order for any work to be visible, it has to be absorbed by those who authorize it. Its resonance is what gives the production the status of an art piece in our society in which we all are part of it, and in which we are accomplices and in which we are acting distantly together. This participation is also inscribed in the engagement of this character, that does not want just to be assimilated, with its quotidian life and with her/his social-economical reality and with her/his context, to acquire a social status. And although you can still think that we are disconnected, we share this space with an abysmal silence. For this reason, we have to try, concomitantly, to crack this maniac vicious circle that is the logic, dilated or compressed, multiple or singular, in which we motionlessly manifest ourselves. Coming from you or from me, from the center or from the periphery, from a concrete space or an abstract space, from politically engaged or alienated artistic production, from complex constructions or simple minded executions, this responsibility has to be slowly shared.

Some moments of inflection,
in the speeds and movements of certain individuals, are likewise moments for you (and me) to investigate: from going unnoticed to being understood and getting an ovation, from being consumed to being rejected, from being marginal to being a hero, of never existing, of being semi transparent, of being totally opaque, of being vernacular, of being universal, of being always “the cool” one, of emerging from the ashes, of submerging in decadence, to stopping production, to multiplying ad infinitum, to becoming stagnant, of constantly producing the same thing and being ignored, of constantly producing the same thing and creating consensus, of being the voice of authority, of being rescued alive, of being rescued dead, of never emerging, of producing as hobby, of being ruled out, of being the totally accepted, of being commercially inviable, of being the anti-establishment figure that everyone wants to decimate, of being the indispensable feminist, the necessary lesbian, the delicious gay, the one who criticizes everything, the one who complies with everything, of being the illustration of a philosopher’s thinking (or an art critic, or a curator), of being the explored, of being alienated, of not having any chance, of being exterminated, of being expatriated, of being considered a genius many years later, of being considered genius at her/his time, of being condemned by society…these are only a few of the numerous facets (un) digested by our Society. To unmask this (non) absorption and understand its rhythms, the levels of grays and its hues, its nuances and its different speeds of (non) circulation are also material for our work. To uncover and observe the infinite codes of our (in)correctly perverse cultural (and social, and political, and economical, and sexual…) machine and to try to denude its most internal structure, to operate in the alternate routes in these saturated speeches, becomes almost the only possible reality of our action, to be in the margins of any meaning any one of us can generate. The logic of our thoughts (feelings) is the amount of crises we constantly live through and in this (in)active writing of (dis)connected (and adversed, repetitive, isolated, unsayable) meaning, I murmur in your ears— only in your ears—an invitation to an irresponsible act/reading/writing. This should be the beginning of our (non) dialogue.

To desire to be moreover in plural and to belong to a category of people that do not know, that are not worried with definitions, that are not searching for a territory, that do not feel certain where to go, that do not know the practice of a voice of authority, that drift through the production, that think in the present and act thinking that the effects illuminate the causes, and that we have to act on our desire and to fight to have a better society, less cruel, where freedom and access would be the right of any citizen and think that this basic — suspended — condition should be reaffirmed by us in our everyday in our minimal actions. We do care. To produce from the need to exteriorize the most sincere and internal voice, to understand that to produce is an act of constantly touching the first shit, the most pure, the most primary, the most artless, the most idiotic part that one has inside without being afraid of being ridiculous. We have to try to touch our most sincere lack of logic inside a pseudo structure called knowledge that protects us from feeling pain and from the encounter with a new form.


Karin Schneider, Harlem, July/2009