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Why would we have to share if we didn’t have limits?


13 March 2017
This month's topic: DIY
Aldo Urbano sobre l'Auca del Senyor Esteve, encarregat per Fireplace, a Supersimétrica, Madrid.

Why would we have to share if we didn’t have limits?

Why do we work in a self-organised way (1)? Why do we call the projects, or spaces in which we work, independent? (2) What do we want to be independent from? Institutions? What are the institutions? Who is the institution? Are we an institution? Can we self-institute? What do we organise when we self-organize? How do we organise it? For whom and what do we organize? Why do we have to share? With whom do we want to share? With whom do we want to work? For whom do we want to work? Do we think of ourselves as an alternative? Do we think of ourselves as a solution? An alternative to what? Are we vindicating something? What? Against whom? Where do we do it? How do we do it? Who are we? Who’s talking? Are you an animal, or a person?[[Paper Tiger TV (1989) “Donna Haraway reads national geographic on primates” New York.?]]

What are our limits? What are the limits of others? And our own limits? Do these limits coincide? Are they complementary? Does it suit us to dissolve these limits, or, on the contrary, make them evident? What are the benefits of the different options? Do we have options? Do we have limits? Or can we do all the things we propose to do? (3)

Does precarious mean badly done? Does precarious mean having no resources? Does precarious mean knowing the limits? Or, that there are neither resources nor limits? Precarious means 1 (adj.) Offering no guarantee of duration. 2 (adj.) Fragile. 3 (adj.)What is possession with no title that authorises the possession. Are we ourselves precarious? (4) Who suffers precariousness? Does inverting the logic of precariousness solve anything? Does it change the perspective on the situation? What is the situation? Can we ourselves intervene in this situation? What was the situation before we arrived? Who was there? What did they do? And before, what was there then? Have there always been self-organised projects? When does self-organisation “arise”? Is self-organisation born? Who invents it? Why is it invented? Why does it survive? Is there an origin? How distant is it? Can we imagine it? And a future? Can we imagine self-organisation in the future? Will self-organised projects exist in the future? Will they be the same as ours? Will they be precarious? Will they be independent? From what will they be independent?

Should we work for love? (5) Can one work for love? Do we work in art because we like it? Do we really like working in art? When are we working and when are we partying? Are these people my friends? Are they work companions? Can they be both? Can we invert the logic of work versus leisure? Can we instigate a new system of work according to an inverted logic?[[“the reversal won’t work” says Donna Haraway in Donna Haraway reads the National Geographic on Primates]] Can we quote Donna Haraway in all the articles we write? Is Donna Haraway God? Is God Donna Haraway? Does God exit? Do animals exist? Are we animals? Can we shut animals in a cage? Do animals belong to us? Are we slaves to the animals? Are we slaves to our own work? [[Hito Steyerl ¿Is the museum a factory? e-flux journal #71, January, 2010. In: Blogs&Docs. October 2010. Translation by Álvaro Marcos and online interview at: “(…) the unpaid labour is the dark matter of this universe”. “You are a factory because you already embody the whole system of hierarchy of a normal factory, you are your own boss and you exploit yourself”.]] If I don’t earn money is it work? Is it professional? Is it not of a level? Does precariousness reduce my strength to work? Does it delegitimize my work? Can I work for less? Do I want to work for more, under what conditions? Who imposes the conditions? Should there be conditions? Who are the art workers? Do they like each other? Do they love their work? Do they love me? Do we love each other? Do we know each other? Are we competing for something? What thing? If we are precarious, why do we have to compete if there is nothing to gain? Or is there? What? Power? Control? Precariousness makes the system more collaborative? If we are united can we beat it? Can we beat it if we stand as one? Can we stand as one? Who do we have to beat? Why do we have to win? Are we the resistance? Are we the rear-guard? (6) Can we talk in terms that aren’t warlike? Do we talk of love and partying¿ Do we have to celebrate everything we do? Or do we have to put a stop to this festivalitis? Is Barcelona a party? Can we think of non-celebratory strategies? Will we like them? Will we have a good time? Does one always have to be happy? Can we complain? Can we do nothing? Can we do nothing to contribute? [[Gustav Metzger dixit.]]

What space does art need? (B) Does art need a space? What do we really want to say when we say space? (7) Do we mean to say an absolute-space? Do we want to put up frontiers? Do we mean to say it is private property? Can a space be symbolic? Relational? A conceptual space conceptual? Are space and project the same? Are we confused? Do we need someone to help us? Whom should we ask? Who could help us? Does our idea of space serve for anything? How can we see what surrounds is, that which is too close to us? How can we see what we do, who we are? How to establish a critical distance? Do we need a space to think about it? Can we construct this space? Does it have to be a new space? Can we share this space? How de we finance this space? ? How much does this spacecost? Is it a small or large space? Can we lend this space to someone else who also needs one? What if they damage the space? Can we ask someone for a space who doesn’t use it? And if they don’t understand why we want a space? What if we don’t want a space? Can we work without a space? What if they confuse us with another space ? With which? Who have they taken us for? Have we turned into another person? Or into something else? Have our limits been confused?

(1) A self-organised project is a project with limited resources, and where these limits are made the principal feature of the project.
(2) “Independence” is an attribute that functions as a shared space, which means that it maintains a respectful relation with what demarcates the limits. It makes me think about difference, that is to say, in what is not self-organised.
(3) Self-organised makes me think of energy, enthusiasm and the time of the people who are, and who make, these projects, and above all their own limits. The translation of the concept of self-organisation to the English acronym of D.I.Y (do it yourself) is fairly recurrent, representing someone, or something doing it for herself. Which can mean not wanting to wait for someone to satisfy their own desires, but also that necessarily what is satisfied is a different desire from the one that would be fulfilled if you waited for someone else to do it with you. In this latter case we would choose the English acronym, D.I.W.O., do it with others.
(4) To all intents and purposes self-organisation implies that one person or a group of people develop all the tasks, they do it themselves; whereas a project that is not self-organised means that the organisation is distributed and each person has a specialised function. I find it hard to imagine the director of a contemporary art museum, whichever it might be, sweeping up the day after an opening, not because they might not know how or be open to sweeping, so much as because its not their job, they’re not paid for this, or for example designing the educational activities and at the same time placing the event on Facebook, bringing the web page up to date, writing the exhibition leaflet or also the press release. I’m not sure to what point it is evident that self-organised projects are worked via, in, or with precariousness. But firstly, this doesn’t mean to say that what derives from it be, by definition, either precarious or of poor quality, and secondly, here lies a question (another) – maybe it’s because we’ve misunderstood the idea of precariousness in detriment to taking advantage of resources?
(5)The Army Of Love, for me, is a project that generates many contradictions. It proposes a community, an exercise, whose aim is to give and receive love constantly and interchangeably. If one soldier falls, another ought to be able to act as a substitute. Not all the constituents of the army share the same concept of love – a less romantic, sensual love-, but they do share the idea of liberating love and redistributing it in favour of an amorously more just world. They’ve produced a video that bears the same name in which they interview some of the current members of the group. It’s available online. I saw it at the last Berlin Biennale. Lying on an undulating carpet, where I could support my head and shoulders in such a way that I was left gazing comfortably at the screen and could think about all this; the fluids, the caresses, love and war. I saw this video once again in Madrid, -with a different quality and in other conditions, in the context of Supersimètrica (A), ), a self-organised fair presenting independent /self-organised and artist run spaces from the south of Europe and Latin America.
(6) Just like the love that the army advocates, independent or self-organised spaces generate a constant flux, not so much of love, that as well, but above all of spaces that situated on the margins of official institutions propose an alternative, a solution, a necessity, an occasion, a mushroom. This makes me think once again of the energy and the enthusiasm. A finite energy, limited, that some take from others to take their place. One of the problems of this finiteness is that it doesn’t generate memory, so often a space is initiated with the enthusiasm of novelty, of being the first, and not as a relief, a rear-guard, or a force of resistance. Marc Vives placed, once again, this question on the table in the activity at Fireplace (B) where he participated as a speaker.
(7) The italics used to highlight the word space serve to indicate the multiplicity of meanings it has. The geographer, David Harvey made the distinction between three meanings: absolute space, relative space and relational space. The first has an existence independent of materiality (establishing frontiers or limits of dominion), the second exits in relation to what it contains, and the third exists in the relations that take place in it. This does not mean to say that each one of the meanings refers to a different space, so much as how concepts can coexist in the same space. When we talk about self-organised or independent spaces (or projects) we can’t separate the idea of the physical space from that of the project, given that where it is placed and the contents it proposes, as well as the relations it establishes and they way these are done form a totality. In this way the form in which we trace or define the space will also constitute what we propose to happen in it.

(A) Supersimetrica (#) is an initiative of the people who run the Salón, one of the independent spaces in the city of Madrid with the longest trajectory and constancy in the last few years. This year, for the first time, they organised, to coincide with ARCO, an alternative fair where they invited independent spaces from the south of Europe and Latin America. The idea was to take advantage of the draw the Salón has had up until now, to expand and make use of its network of contacts, and the influx of people during these dates in the city. As well as to put people in contact with such projects. For this the achieved a bit of funding to be able to invite people and house them in the city. (B) Returning from Madrid, Fireplace, an independent space in the city of Barcelona, celebrating its second anniversary, organised a round table around the question “What space does art need?” In fact some of the reflections laid out in this article are based on what was commented on during this activity, particularly the reflections of Mariona Alcaraz, who intervened, as an architect, talking about the concept of space from the use it has. (*)The question of the title is hers. Often we understand space as a physical place. But we also refer to “space” as “project”. (7) If we think about space as specifically a physical space, we could say that a space like Fireplace or Salón, shouldn’t’ –nor can or wants to- confront the heavy-weight machinery supposed by a building-monument such as, for example, the Museum of Contemporary Art. The space is inseparable from the costs it generates and consequently the uses derived from it. Often this is what determines the form in which sustainability is planned. The institute where I studied secondary school is by day a secondary school and by night the official language school of the town. The house where I live is occasionally an exhibition space. The bakery underneath my house is a second hand bookshop. Why would we have to share if we didn’t have limits?(*) The most extreme example that occurs to me now is the very case of Supersimetrica. This Artist Run Art Fairwas located in a disused metro station (Note: disused in this case means that although the metro doesn’t stop there the numerous convoys of line 1 continue to circulate along the tracks). (Ah and in disuse also means to say that this old station is currently a “metro museum”. (Uff, disuse = museum?) In this case the example of the coexistence of two spaces is extreme. It functions as a metaphor – literally – for the underground, a word that incidentally is no longer used, terms like “emerging” or even “independent” being used now instead. The literality of the metaphor is left patent with the chill blasts of air, the humidity, the leaks and the noise. In this case the determinant features and limits of the space surpass the contents of the proposal. The limits have to be controllable, be managed; it has to be possible to play with them rather than them playing with you.

(#) According to particle physics, the matter is formed of particles that transmit the fundamental interactions of nature. The super-symmetry proposed by string theory, extends the number of particles of the standard model so that a super-symmetrical particle, called a super-companion, corresponds to each particle. Some super-symmetrical particles could offer an explanation for the problem of dark matter of the universe [A few days ago we also talked about dark matter [here]]. Supersimètricain Madrid wanted to extend the limits of independent spaces and propose a new dimension, a testing ground. But like the scientific theory, it is not yet proven, so its organisers want to repeat it next year, do it differently and better.
Perhaps this “new dimension” where the super-companions find themselves and complement each other is one where precariousness doesn’t refer to the extensive use of the resources available (love, space, experience) but rather to the opposite, precariousness refers to the infra-use of spaces and resources. In this dimension the budgets and costs, the contents, the spaces and their uses are sustainable and super-symmetrical. Hence it wouldn’t be about inverting the orders of institution/non-institution so much as we’d have super-companions, from other ambits and contexts, from difference, that would inform us of other experiences. Perhaps, in this new dimension, we think as a whole, a team, a common organ, a system, or to put it better, a complex eco-system. Perhaps we’d forget less and remember more, we’d save more energy and share resources not in an ostensible but in a sustainable manner, with peace and love.

Caterina Almirall has only just been born into this world, but has lived in others, in similar parallel worlds, both liquid and solid. From each she has learnt something, and forgotten something else. Learning to unlearn. In all of these worlds she has been caught up in a web that interweaves everything, some call it ’art’…Entwining, unravelling, weaving and destroying this labyrinth has been her occupation in each one of these planets, and she fears that it will be the same in each of the ones to come.

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