castrated art

spirals Kugels laced over organellic and stretched gekreuztes


It would seem that the structure of capital has advanced itself. Each input now takes the form of a photograph, from my phone, which I then post, and which serves to multiply the value of whatever it is I photograph. Isn’t it strange that I am the one who is expected to, not only produce, but even generate this advancement? I produce what Varoufakis has already called a new kind of capital qua data (for the sake of economic actors not myself). This new kind of input occurs, however, without any explicit labour on my part. It is then an even more covert way of associating value with things. Still, this value is never any more than the loop: it is a mutual expectation between whatever it is I am imagined to produce and that which, being photographed, reproduces itself—for the first time.

The loop, of course, is therefore perverse; it waits around to be seen. It is not just any photograph, or, more generally, any input, which “generates” value. We have to have abstract stores of value lying around, and that’s where the Kunsthalle comes in. An exhibition, such as the one above, Devouring Lovers, gives one an object, something just real enough, something which even plays with the concept of being "just real enough", or even "        ", so that, in expectation, of all of the processes of value (speculative) which have been set up in view of the possibility of this store achieving what it is predicted to achieve, it then waits around. It is a means of satisfying itself, because, while speculative, the perverse loop of these processes is that they acquire value on the basis that there is some kind of minimal encounter between the input I’ll make and how the processes of value are valued, i.e. it is as if when an exhibition gets enough hype, it has become valuable purely for the reason that it has generated a certain level of expected value. This value, however, turns out to be nothing more than the degree to which it can generate hype.

The processes, which are bet on the success of the exhibition, whatever that might mean, are not ever eventually satisfied by some real thing. On the contrary, there expectation is, more or less, more expectation; more expectation that can then be captured in "        ", or in stores of value generally. As long as, and this is the belief part of the loop, we are willing to bet all of our economy on the generation of the stringing out of that level of expectation, we will never reach the point at which the valuelessness of a given exhibition will become apparent—not as such, at least. What we naively call real resources are used, and people’s time and money and so on, while no public language is developed in order to really address this expense. To the extent that we participate in some ideology, we console ourselves by not thinking of the cost. There is, however, a strange gyre which we anticipate in capital, which does, at the very least, turn some processes, even expectation, over and over, organising something. It is no surprise that conceptual art intimates it, but it leaves us all the more deeply repressed: how have they expressed the object of my dreams and yet not said aloud the very failure latent in it?

That which we do expend can’t really mean much, so that it remains much more fictitious with respect to capital. It goes, to paraphrase Lacan’s so you think this spot of dick makes you a man: so you think this spot of money makes you seen or makes you contribute or makes you real. Of course, we should resist the illusion of trying to look for something somehow more real than a fantasy, even as we acknowledge the fact that a symptomal discontent emerges when one visits an exhibition. The question, to remain consistent, is not whether or not we are quite worried over the fact that we could imagine a child painting or putting most of this together, but what is it we confront in an exhibition, which we are not ready to accept or assimilate, and which fills us with discontent? What is it, precisely, that is said nonetheless right in front of us about the very object we have been looking for to explain the (castrated) world, which we nonetheless sustain in its castration by pursuing a fantasy of a non-constrated object. All these objects, however, in virtue of their abstraction—their non-contextuality—are castrations; allowed by capital, in some way which reaches after our intuition that there is something impossible in our living present.

These objects are castrati; that is, the very castrated members themselves. Is this not the analogy between what we find childish in this conceptual materialism and the stunted growth (of our very system (of the object))? At the same time, they are precisely stand-ins for our hysteria regarding the gyre of capital, which is anticipated, more importantly, by the speculation that renders possible these castrated objects. Are we then surprised, or indeed horrified, to be confronted by the very fact that our objects are castrated? Is it not that we are confronted by a strange functionality even as they seem impossibly functional, one which then demands some speculation to explain its possibility, i.e. the proposed inversion is that capital exists to explain the possibility of such objects (which capital nonetheless makes possible). This is, furthermore, to bring into focus another inversion we could have mentioned earlier: an exhibition of this kind (or indeed all exhibitions of conceptual art) more or less propose, not something on which capital can speculate, but the very place capital will have speculated—without any intermediary.

We feel, and react to, the unconscious reality of our belief: we see that we do believe in something more, and yet we have not chosen it. This is what, in part, we reject, and, inevitably, fail to really reject. We never end up articulating it. It is not that we believe in the art, but that we presume the existence of the efficiency of some belief behind all of this which we consider perversely essential to the function of things. It is, at some level, an awareness of the perverse loop, which doubles moreover as an experience of the unconscious itself: I know these art forms could have been made by children, but I nonetheless see how they must support some deeper system. More importantly, I have not chosen it, and my hysteria is invariably addressed to whatever or whomever has chosen it: have you really chosen this to regulate everything? Once we add the dimension of castration things radicalise, and capital comes properly into view: it is just “any” fantasy, because it is the very replacement of where we expected to take place. It is not that these objects are not really capital, but they are, in fact, what we really believe (the object, in both senses) of capital this. This means, furthermore, that whatever it is that they do not do for us ultimately sets up how they are where capital has, so to speak, visited. The very way in which they remain the castrated objects of capital is what allows them to stand-in as capital itself insofar as, it is precisely this castration, which sets up the visit from capital nobody witnesses.

In order to understand this logic, consider in what respect we imagine that the system we call capitalism, such as it exists, operates some mastery over us, which we nonetheless detect does not really function and give as evidence the (castrated) objects of contemporary art. We say, again, is this really, it, and yet what follows is not some immediate rebuttal whereby, say, some more apparent, even conspiratorial (master) functionality prevails and we realise further the latent deceit, i.e. these objects were only ever intermediaries of capitalist speculation. Instead, something much weirder happens and where our analysis seems to hover off the ground: we realise, so to speak, that the master is also ill, only his illness, rather than either confirming some adulterated corruption or leaving us to despair over an inevitable and forthcoming collapse, is precisely the object of our fantasy. This means that, while we say to ourselves, and do so with great resolve, that the system is, of course, failing, see how they show us precisely the game they’ve been playing all along, we wonder nonetheless how it can still all be running along. It is our fantasy, in other words, that, even while we know he is ill, he can nonetheless keep working. The next step is to assert that this is precisely why an eager critique of capital fails, because it misses the fact there is no moment in which capital really works. This is surely what we really confront when we come upon such objects, that they signify precisely in what respect these castrated objects are nonetheless that through which capital has passed. Of course, the logic is more that capital only has or will have passed, so that the more we assert there apparent uselessness, invariably in the form of pointing out in what respect they are empty intermediaries for speculation, the more we entangle ourselves, not only with the very hysteria (of our dream of capital’s functionality), but with the fact itself that the castrated object is precisely as a beginning. it would almost be as though the instruments of our torture had been laid before us, while we had been repeatedly told they do not exist. We would have the courage to point out the reality in front of us if it weren’t for the fact that when we are faced with the question of which reality is supposed to be behind these instruments, i.e. capital, we are confronted by the more horrifying question: but what is this reality of which you speak? This is equivalent to our trying to say, but we know that these objects are not real, and yet we nonetheless believe that they are the proof of our castration.

The question of whether it is possible what we already know is going to happen, or is happening, merely sets up the more horrifying insight that, not only do we already know, but this already, rather than implying some special foreknowledge, implies the opposite, i.e. the unavoidability of whatever is coming. This is precisely an insight into the unconscious, because it is the very process by which we become aware of whatever is going on that confronts us: this process never exists, so that all we get is the before/after of what we already know is happening (right now). It is precisely what designates the schism which is the subject, so to speak, carries into reality. What we become tentatively aware in our master’s illness is that his being ill is not really an impediment, that the very castration itself (of reality) is the name of the subject. What we see when capital has already, so to speak, emptied these objects of their function (and even, without their having functioned, made them up for the sake of the having-happened of its own speculative process) is precisely what makes these castrated objects finally appear (as what they accomplish for capital). If it never was that they were that upon which we speculated, then what we see is that they work insofar as through them we see precisely the castrated potential of capital; its potential, after all, is not an actual process of speculation, but merely the implication that such a process has either occurred or is going to occur, for which the object serves as the material proof of (this very) castration. This means that, the very way in which we come upon the fantasy itself that capitalism works, even while it is dead, is what we call the process of speculation itself—the taking off of clothes from a body without clothes. We see, for this reason, the (pre-capitalist) object for the first time, which names precisely that these objects come alive in the very castrated potential of capital.




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