Francis Bacon on art and society


FB Well, I have often manipulated things so that they
should come to my rescue. 1 think I’m one of those people
who have a gift for always getting by somehow. Even if it’s a
case of stealing or something like that, I don’t feel any moral
thing against it. I suppose that’s an extremely egocentric
attitude. It would be a nuisance to be caught and put in
prison, but I don’t have any feeling about stealing. Now that
I earn money, it would be a kind of stupid luxury to go out
and steal. But when I had no money, I think I often used to
take what I could get.

DS I have the impression that following one’s impulses and
accepting the consequences and ignoring security isn’t just
the way you yourself behave; it’s also a prejudice that
governs your view of society. I mean that you talk as if the
concept of the welfare state, with its guarantee of certain
kinds of security, seems to you a sort of perversion of life.

FB Well, I think that being nursed by the state from the
cradle to the grave would bring such a boredom to life. But
in saying that, it may be something to do with that have
never had the morality of poverty. And therefore I can’t
think of anything more boring than that everything was
looked after for you from your birth to your death. But
people seem to expect that and think it is their right. I think
that, if people have that attitude to life, it curtails – I believe
this, I cannot prove it – the creative instinct. It would be
difficult to understand why. But I never believe one should
have any security and never expect to keep any. (more…)


Cuore di mamma (1969)


In Salvator Samperi‘s Cuore Di Mamma the children are psychotic. Their mute and divorced mother is a zombie watching TV all day, stacking books and failing to react to her children terrorizing their caregivers. At random, she stalks a young man, following him to a group of other young people. They are extreme Left wing terrorists with vague ideas, clearly parodies of the Situationist types. It’s a less sentimental version of what Godard did to Maoists in La chinoise (1967) and the speechifying gives way to clown-theatre and bad, awkward folk singing. After a few challenges they accept her and she goes with them, blowing things up. They clearly mirror her psychotic children, who also mouth endless political rants (the children are more coherent and lucid than the adult revolutionaries). (more…)

Notes on Groys’ Art Power

“The only thing that saves us from bureaucratic subjugation, is the inertia of the bureaucracy itself.” – Donald Brittain Paperland: The Bureaucrat Observed

imagesSince Duchamp, the old distinction between artist and curator has collapsed. The creative has given way to the selective. The artist is the authorizer of a selection. What makes it art is that it is exhibited, and this status in time is what makes it contemporary. Contemporary art is the space of exhibition, one which places subjective, even arbitrary selection, into a public space. But the authority is more diffuse. Contemporary art is one of multiple authors, of institutions, curators, committees etc. It is a product of the bureaucratization of selection. Artists become identified with their CVs, not works of art. They produce less than they participate. Unexhibited works are reduced to documentation rather than works of art. “And that is the crucial aspect: the artwork today does not manifest art; it merely promises art. Art is manifested only in the exhibition, as in fact the title Manifesta already states.” (98) Museums no longer display seemingly eternal collections but temporary, transient and bureaucratically re-evaluated ones. They become, functionally, like almost any other part of the state apparatus. Their function as documentary performed makes them identical to the cultural bureaucracy that they are funded by. Effectively, budgets for doomed utopian projects are what is produced by contemporary art.