Marina Vishmidt

Nicholas Negroponte with the Architecture Machine Group, M.I.T., Seek, 1970

Plastic Givens: Some Incidents Between Production and Abolition

Since 2009, Marina Vishmidt and Anthony Iles have been working together on a series of essays, posters and presentations expanding their common interest in the relation of artistic practices to social crisis by reflecting on the roles of machines, labor and value in capitalist reality and communist philosophy. They ask: How do art’s encounters with destruction help us to track the historical nature of negativity, serendipity and accident in art specifically and in capitalist culture more generally?
The project will try to analyse forms of (self-)abolition, negation and subsumption as they figure in concrete instances of artistic production, and find systemic resonances with the current entropy of capitalist society. Recent tendencies show that art is more often affirmed than negated by its incorporation of the ‘outside’, accumulating more efficiently than the crisis capitalism it ransacks for its themes. At the same time, radical politics seeks to dissolve art in ethics or practical activity, itself a conservative gesture when nothing else changes. Can the aesthetic help us here, keeping open the sensuous and indeterminate in the movement of negation? If art tends to lose its borders with other activities in a society transformed by the speculative economy, it shows that the relation between speculation and subjectivity is what makes it urgent to discern a politics that actualizes the constitutive ‘(dis)measure’ that makes art a privileged site for speculation.
Marina and Anthony will use the discursive context of Büchsenhausen’s Fellowship Program for Art and Theory to open this work to further development and discussion, eventually bringing the common thread of these conversations and written work into a co-authored book, as well as developing an archive of the process incorporating contributions from interlocutors, who will participate in their working and staging process at Büchsenhausen.

Marina Vishmidt is a London-based writer occupied mainly with questions around art, labor and value. She is the author of Speculation as a Mode of Production (Brill, early 2016) and A for Autonomy (with Kerstin Stakemeier) (Textem, 2015). She also works regularly with Anthony Iles and with Melanie Gilligan. She collaborates with artists and contributes to journals such as Mute, Afterall, Texte zur Kunst, and the South Atlantic Quarterly, as well as co-/edited collections and catalogs,most recently Anguish Language (Archive Books, forthcoming). She is part of the Theory faculty at the Dutch Art Institute, a visiting lecturer at Middlesex University and the University of Brighton, and has taught at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Central Saint Martins, and Goldsmiths.