2015 Year Enders, End of Year Lists, Music

Year Ender: Zach Phillips



“Imagine artists for whom every hope for the future of art has been purged in the apotheosis of the economy; artists sick of the constant parade of recuperations, of being caught in all the double binds of opposition (the anti is mandatory, the anti is impossible); artists who know that the death of the avant-garde was the terminus toward which they were always driven. Without exception art that calls itself art, that is registered as art, that circulates within art contexts can never again pose as anything but systems-maintenance. The only critical art would be that which is neither critical nor art: a point beyond which there is precisely nothing. What is somehow irreducible in this figure of what once were artists is that even at this null point, even in the crisis of a delegitimization that was for them the only legitimation of art, they must still paint, write, compose, construct, and must still follow the movement of the anti. How will they proceed if there is nowhere left to go? Perhaps by going nowhere, by following the anti through its death, by a kind of discursive suicide. They are so resigned to recuperation that they resign from it. No more frenetic searches to discover the newest autonomous, semi-autonomous, internal autonomous or post autonomous zone that will only turn out to be tomorrow’s endocolonial enclave; no more dialectical push-pull between art and anti-art, but a curious departure, an abandonment of art and its discourses in favor of … what? It cannot be described here, for the next stage of resistance must be carried out against this very discourse. What one must imagine is an unprecedented silence, exile and cunning; samizdat networks, amnesiac and sub historical; a moratorium, a boycott, an invisible strike that pretends to neither parnassian nor critical autonomy, that makes no pretense whatsoever, that is fully committed to its anonymity. [Not an] ‘empty avant-garde gesture,’ in fact not a gesture at all. Not a critical theater in which to represent oneself but a hidden struggle to dismantle in oneself, in one’s network, the entire theatrical apparatus. A fast for burning off discursive toxins. … It is not in order to escape to any utopia that one imagines this disappearance. One is quite willing to accept the fact that for those inside a culture there is no outside; one is quite willing to drop the rebel, the outlaw, the exile, or any of the other stock figures under which most readers will subsume this refusal, and to take the critique of autonomy all the way. But that is not the same as acceding to the implication that lacking an ideal exteriority one can only play by the economy’s rules, that one must continue to supply it with recuperative occasions. It is the arrogance of discourse to assume that all resistance must acknowledge it.” — Paul Mann, 1991

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