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DAMTP PRAGUE REPORT. NOVEMBER 2011 Print
Written by Redas Diržys   

The presentation of DAMTP papers and proletarian positions of psychic workers took place in Prager Kabarett, Prague on November 15th, 2011.

Very symptomatic was the conjuncture of DAMTP presentation with the presentation of Czech-American artist Woody Vasulka, who confessed there being uncomfortable when named as artist and prefered identifying as a film worker – that was nice to hear from established avant-gardist, but hardly trustable in the context of the occasion – his talk was arranged as a special meeting with public due to his some honourship received at FAMU (Film Academy of Prague).


Next turn for the evening was pending on me. Even before my talk I did a mistake inviting people who came for the first meeting also to stay for DAMTP presentation and simply naming being bourgeois those who are not willing to talk on reproletarianization of the art sphere. My psychic apologies to all people then being here – I think the fact that there were some people directly involved into official events by some academic rituals couldn’t be an excuse to abuse all. In the result not many people left for the next talk. Those details gave impact on my nervousness in the beginning of the DAMTP presentation. But there were incredibly well intentioned people around - they were willing to discuss on the critical topics analyzing contemporary situation in the psychic working conditions. The collective attempts balanced the situation and eventually turned up into an intense discussion.

I found myself quite uncomfortable to start talking on behalf of the DAMTP. When I write “we” I mean usually what I think when trying to look at myself from aside – i.e. when I talk on some imagined community I would like to be part of. The same way is how I treat the organization of the art strike biennials. But the problem is that I do not want to talk on behalf of some very concrete people involved into those concrete events. I started from “I” in that talk because in advance I was presented personally with my name and people came to listen to me as concrete person.

Instead of talking on the structure of DAMTP I choose to talk on myself and how DAMTP gradually substituted poisonous residues of being a “serious artist”. I’ve criticized art system from the point of view of artist and art organizer what I’ve practiced for years and know well from within. In the same way as being a teacher and education organizer – I criticized educational system based on identification with cultural clichés. There is nothing new in those positions – everyone in those spheres is used to know it, but it is always out of the subject to talk about. Instead we are about to criticize other fields of activities while using our specialized skills and milieu as expression. There was the point for discussion to rise – the example was about the position of leftist Slovenian philosopher and publisher Marina Gržinič, who is arguing that everyone must fight with his own specialized tools in the frame of his/her own specialized field and so to rise the broader problems from that prospective. I’ve argued that her position instead of solving anything indeed deepens the processes of capitalist specialization and produces alienation. That is actually the fundamental problem of the academicians stuck into their enlightenment idea and without ability not only to realize anything in practice, but also disabled to dismiss uselessness of themselves. I am used often to ask the theoreticians: what would be your input into the General Strike? What is your activity to be suspended then? They usually treat their servitude to the academic capitalist system as a resistance to it…the same with the artists… and that is what I am in doubt about. What I would propose from my prospective? I am used to talk with artists (besides doing things together) about usefulness of arts and their involvement in it, instead of their beloved topics of “healing the people and democracies”…I am used to talk about basic education problems with the teachers and the organizers of the educational process (besides working together along in the field), because usually they are used to present themselves as true enlighteners of humanity while are conformists and discipline-risers in reality… I am used to talk to journalists about journalists’ problems (instead of providing them with attractions), what they are treating not as important as global ones… I am used to talk about activism with activists (besides demonstrating together) who are also into the trap when realizing getting paid for some activism almost like a wage-slaves, or even racism apparent in their ranks of organizations. I am active in many disciples and this basic problem is not an exception in all of them. The problem is not the falsified production even, but the playing the specialized role which is remained without critique from within and from the outside – the last because of incompetence of outsiders. The idea of strike is exactly about striking the production in particular specialized field the worker is involved into. That could be considered as one of the aspects of situlogy.

One of the mostly frequently asked questions (and sometimes it is presented as accusation even) is about still being too artistic, about doing an art project, about trying to gain a profit on a collective product etc. That question I got immediately after presenting situgraphy of the DAMTP papers also there was added the note that I am still in organizing of cultural format holding biennials. It is hard to deny all the similarities – especially that I was trained for that and was practicing it for a long time…and also then with deep trust in it. I had distrust into the Soviet type of cultural-political propaganda, but Western was told being the real one, but we were used then to distrust to everything told in the Soviet system. It took a long time to get into what the “western” (cultural) propaganda is about. I was practicing “artistic” looking tools to fight soviet superstitions, also I was applying my sharpest tools towards the new-born bourgeois rituals and it still looks like an art. But I am sure it is not the art what my and many peoples’ activities look like, but rather the art overtook what people are used for their communications and other kind of everyday-need-for-self-made-miracles. The DAMTP paper for me was not the way to present mine ideas, but to gather the people’s ideas, positions, expectations and so to try to proceed towards common interchange without any hierarchies of 1-stness, 2-ndness or 5-thness… or top and bottom issues – there is nothing artistic, nor aesthetic (aesthetics I treat as a tool for glorification and humiliation) in it. It’s a process. And I’m enjoying being in it. What’s due to the artistic project – that’s a very seductive point – I had got some attempts to sell it as my art project for the art events and so to incorporate it into the art system… I am able to resist it still and so I have no any intentions to lead it (and trying to avoid it) – just my all efforts are towards letting things to happen.

Crucial question I found to be the position that there is no art system existing as singularity any more – this is plural nowadays: consequently there are many art systems. That is not even mistaken but a poisonous position. This position leads towards separating one worker from another one, sinking into the continuous fights of each on his own separately instead of understanding that similar looking individual fights are indeed the one and the same to all workers.

Historicist proves were also few times used as arguments. Historic argument is not an argument because it is always produced retrospectively by those holding the power. The main intent of it is mystification of the status quo and it’s sustenance. The discussion followed on the eurocentrist concept of historification in general – as further development of the erroneous concept of spatialization of the time dimension. The mostly evident example I’ve remembered is that of Osha Neuman’s – the thread used as a way back from the spatial labyrinth doesn’t work in the time labyrinth – following the thread in a time dimension one is getting lost instead of getting out.

The discussion ended up on critique of racist issues of the whole eurocentrist cultural discourse including historicism as well. As a counter argument was provided the example of European cubism which was claimed to be a manifestation of modernist message towards decolonization. The answer was simple accuse of Eurocentric modernism being one of the colonialist practices to fill up their exhausted fantasies. The counter question was: does the opponent know any Black cubist artist? So far the answer did not followed I found relevant to shortly to present our recent DAMTP discussions on racist aspects in surrealist, jazz, rock’n’roll movements and also in anarchist communities as well. Now I can add also those aspects present in today’s actualities known as “occupations” – if the Black people distancing themselves from “occupations” movement it starts to be nothing but the new colonialist movement.

Redas Diržys
DAta Miners & Travailleurs Psychique