Thursday, April 29, 2010

Art that You Can Dance To

I can dance to this, which is in part why Carlos Zerpa's art, thus his politics, has been co-opted by both officials in Caracas and by the New York Times. While neoliberals bemoan the lack of federal funding of the arts in the U.S., Canadian poets such as Reg Johanson are making documentary stand as-is and alongside strophic bursts of cacophony, atrocity non-representational as can be. I can't dance to Reg's work, nor can I dance to this. Which is how (and perhaps why), in part, Taylor Brady and Rob Halpern have treated this work at length--in their collaboration Snow Sensitive Skin--viz. writing thru it or to it (how much distance is there between myself, sitting and hitting the keys, and Kerbaj?), and, paradoxically (but not so paradoxically if one asks what the ear hears when disaster sounds) they do so by way of lyrical poetry.  Not ekphrastic so much as these are projects, central to Nonsite Collective, of making legible occulted disaster, presenting re-narrating practices that radicalize thru making legible, and attempts at legibility are decidedly not poppy or danceable or sloganized such that one could imagine a commercial break between stanzas or sections--as the investigation is how and to what ends, and why, all the songs go like so, and so that song, that song of songs, transliterates an ugly selfsameness, sounds like guts & the usery of the industry that makes the foot tap. Established forms of protest stand not in relief here to socially engaged artforms that refuse a mute reality while retaining a strategic non-representational, closural structure (how modernism is still with us!), but in tandem with. A good organizing campaign is also not predictable. In both cases visibility of the invisible by the often invisible comes down to a question of tactical movement, intentionality. Where "intentionality" here is perhaps, again paradoxically, not a clamp-down on or control of the tiniest detail of composition (tho compositional intent and precision are necessary conditions) but the resultant submission to the forces that activate. Where might the hand or the ear go on its own? What is the logic of that movement? What does that logic sound like? This is a strategically recursive refusal to do anything much more than submit to the beat's infrastructure in order that one's body isn't recapitulating the song's output but investigating its output's intended and unintended effects while tracing its source beyond speaker.

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