Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emancipatory Hedonism

From Jan Verwoert's essay

Lying Freely to the Public. And Other, Maybe Better, Ways to Survive

Power structures need public prosecutors because they invest belief into the reality of these structures. Whether the prosecutors defend or criticize the structures makes no difference in this regard. On the contrary, it is precisely the critic of institutional power structures, for instance, who does these structures the invaluable service of making the public believe that the institutional apparatus is the most, if not only, important force that determines the production of art. Converting to this belief, however, means to renounce your faith in the idea that art practice could actually make a difference. One prominent fallacy of political art criticism has therefore always been to ground their critique in a serious belief in the exclusive power of power structures. A criticism that sought to empower resistance, however, would have to analyse the structures, but deny them the service of believing, and instead invest the power of belief into the possibility of change through (art) practice.


  1. The right underwear

    Long live the right underwear the child says;
    in this light she has the emperor on
    her side, a good reason why she should wear
    his underwear, to show the lengths she will go
    to bear him in her eyes and to proceed
    cored as a horse, new to its brain and its
    ravaged locks, like a chopping block too much
    acquainted with the mind and the way it
    smells after accipitrine work. What makes
    your throat smell that way in the dark? The past
    would be less unnavigable in the
    throat if it cried, ‘long live my underwear!’.

    an early sonnet by Beatrice Krill

  2. I asked Beatrice to elaborate on her poem. I especially wanted to know what 'cored as a horse' was getting at. This is what she said:

    'There is a certain violence to emptying oneself of belief, or is that a recognition that belief is in the (art) practice, and it's only a momentary percieved evacuation, or indeed it's the gay shroud again, with the emancipatory hedonism of looking a gift horse in the mouth and being prepared to be rocked by what's inside - to let the alternate army inside the gates even though you know there are Ancient Romans inside...

    'Accipitrine, bird of prey, the small shadow that eats into power structures, and is empowered by being bitten back, never deterred; seeing is believing empowered resistance everyday.'