Sunday, February 24, 2013

Douglasistic Democracy

Douglasism is a set of words exchanged for works it wants to become without being indiscernible from them. A becoming not before or less than work but a specific kind of work. Work without work. This would be the schism in the ism Douglas. To have ismated a name lacking a proper body, to have mated that name with an impossible ism, to have founded a practice on a subject as much subject to work as subject of it, is to have created a headless figure whose words emerge wayward everywhere allover ordered by no hierarchies structured by no oppositions. With the cul-de-sacing of the avant-garde there are no longer any isms in art. We all know that. Even those who can reach to the bottom of the bag. Especially them. Especially those who reach to the bottom of the bag by pulling the sack over their own heads. The ones who pull the sack over their own heads to reach right to the bottom of the sack with their own heads know more than anyone about the end of the avant-garde. Douglasism knows this. Douglasism knows that it is not about there being nothing but a no through road, but that all roads are through roads, all more or less temporary, heading not to a final destination but away from the head, heading away from the head to specific or differential fermata and stopovers.

There is but one democracy. But democracy is doubled. Because there is a schism at the heart of democracy. That schism is the constant threat to democracy of being reduced to democratism. It is a necessary threat, and the threat is also the chance. The threat to democracy which is at the same time its chance is its own principle: that everyone in a democracy has the right to criticise it. Criticise everything about it, including this principle and the law on which it is founded but which in truth it founds. And if it seems to us that art is the space in which such criticism is carried out to more effect than in the political system called democracy it is because politics is the reduction of democracy to democratism. For this reason we must be wary when face-to-face with political art and vigilant not to allow art to claim the political for itself. Because art then loses the right to say anything. Democracy is the most open political paradigm, but it is not simply open. Its openness is doubled. It is doubled because art takes something away from democracy and in taking away gives it a space it would not otherwise have. Art withdraws something of democracy’s openness and opens it elsewhere. Art’s democraticness is thus not coextensive with the democracy it is drawn from. Nor Democracy’s self-critical questioning with the self questioned.
Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, ‘Douglasistic Democracy’, Kim Kim Gallery, art:gwangju:12.

Aug. 2012
by Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield

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