Dead Thinking

Saturday 7 December, 19h30, at CNDB
with Alina Popa and Florin Flueras

















There is an absolutely obvious, normal step, almost a command, an obligation to do what one should do in order to secure and improve one's life. We want to belong, to succeed, to achieve something in this world. Considering the way our contemporary life and society is shaped, if you have a healthy, alive thinking chances are for you to end up in the financial sector, advertising or, in the best case, in academia or being successful at art venues, or something like that.

What can be a dead thinking and dead feeling is our question then, or if not dead at least pathological. Probably a dead thinking is a thinking less from this world, less determined by what we know and more oriented towards darkness and unknown. Or maybe it is not thinking at all anymore. In the Wari' tribe from Amazonia the soul gives the body not feelings, thoughts or consciousness, but it gives it instability. The Wari’ hold that "healthy and active people do not have a soul (jam-)". Diseased, almost dead thinking (a thinking-feeling) opens up a possibility for metamorphosis, hence a brittling of the human form, a constant loss of any definition of humanity. The oscillation between unknown and the worst, between dead thinking and deadly thinking could be the starting point of discussing a new kind of politics, knowledge and existence.

Second Body (Shadow Body)


First Body

Since the end of the 60s it was clear for many people all over the world that it is not enough to try to oppose the economic-political order. The problem is not just about how to bring more bodies into the streets to fight the power and the obvious problems, but also about what kind of life powers those bodies. The bodies of the protesters and that of the rulers are not that different - in spite of the racial, sexual and class differences, at certain levels we share a degree of rigidity and limitations in our bodies, life capacities and potentiality. Intuitively, a lot of what happened at the end of the 60s was very much about addressing this situation, and about an liberation of the body from racial, sexual and disciplinary constraints. Since then it was a lot of talk about capitalism that constructs our minds and bodies, about an imperative to follow our desires and to bring freedom to the body. And some experimentation with common living, sexuality, psychotropic substances and everything that can be done to bring freedom of the mind and body.

A good example for this attitude was the passing from a disciplinary regime to a sort of expressive regime of the body in the dance of that period. Improvisation was the keyword and everything seemed to be possible, the body freed from the classical and modern dance discipline could finally express itself. The enthusiasm and the joy of the freedom lasted for a while but, after years and years of self-expression, a depressive moment arrived when the realization that there is no ‘itself’ to express couldn’t be postponed. The ‘authentic movements’ and the expressions of the ‘freedom of the body’ started to appear just as a bunch of clichés, stereotypes and patterns of movements - recombined remains from the trashed disciplinary dances. The same happened also with the less dancing bodies - our bodies of the post-disciplinary, control society are the expression of automatisms and habits from the previously disciplinary and older power regimes. Old and new commands are embodied and expressed in our free movements and behaviors.

The free body -  obtained through hard experimentation with all kinds of substances, all kinds of sexuality and all sorts of techniques of freeing ourselves - got exhausted and turned up not that free after all. The joy and the sensation of freedom felt from getting out of the disciplined body was quickly consumed. Soon the party was over and hangover lasted many years after Woodstock. Woodstock is also good example of how the freedom of the body was transformed into a spectacle, a representation of freedom largely consumed. After that, the capturing and instrumentation of this 'free' and self-expressive body continues and becomes central to a new economy in which sensibility, intuition, affectability, creativity and other capacities are put to work. ‘Express yourself’ seems to be the urge nowadays and Facebook is just an example. There is an opening for the consume of more experiences but this kind of liberation does not produce a new body, it is just letting the old body express itself.

Silvia Federici(1) considers that this body that we want to liberate is actually a machine whose construction was necessary for capitalism to appear and develop: “the human body and not the steam engine, and not even the clock, was the first machine developed by capitalism”. This body-machine was built with the help of philosophers like Descartes and Hobbes who were also engaged in another necessary project - the annihilation of a more open and sensible body that was present in that period: “What died was the concept of the body as a receptacle of magical powers that had prevailed in the medieval world. In reality, it was destroyed. For in the background of the new philosophy we find a vast initiative by the state, whereby what the philosophers classified as 'irrational' was branded as crime. ... In Descartes, the reduction of the body to mechanical matter allows for the development of mechanisms of self-management that make the body the subject of the will. In Hobbes, by contrast, the mechanization of the body justifies the total submission of the individual to the power of the state. In both, however, the outcome is a redefinition of bodily attributes that makes the body, ideally, at least, suited for the regularity and automatism demanded by the capitalist work-discipline.”

There are anthropologists who are seeing this mechanization and radically materialist thinking as “the product of a Western epistemology extending as far back as Aristotle’s starkly biological view of the human soul in De Anima”(2). We can also easily trace back the premises for ‘our’ tool-body to the moment when the agriculture and the instrumentalization of nature started. A lot of (self)organization was needed, a good occasion for discipline, centralization and dominance  to be deployed on the closest nature - the ‘own body’ and the rest of nature. As a result we have a master - slave relation with ‘our body’ in which the body habits, patterns, capacities are reduced to what is economically useful as well as a life and world organized around capturing and predation.

The 60s effort of setting free this tool-body was not enough because, similarly to what happened when this was tried in dance, what remains after the 'liberation' are just stereotypes and clichés. Our bodies are shaped by our type of culture, nature, society, economy, politics, especially in the unconscious layers, in the unknown - at the level of reflexes, habits, perception automatisms, affective circuits, etc. It’s not enough to deconstruct or to apply critical thinking to the tool-body or to the world. You need to reconstruct the body and that’s a different kind of work. On the other hand we need this tool-body too because it is what we have for navigating this world.

Second Body (Shadow Body)

The familiar habits and patterns of perception and movement are silencing all the inhuman factors in the body. "One instinctually arranges one’s life so that the tasks, the tools and the problems and the encounters will recur the same each day, one avoids the limits”(3).  In this way the first body constantly confirms the world and its behaviours, the first body always encounters a known, stabilized world. The quantity of known is constantly expanding until it becomes the totality of perception, until we actually perfectly know what a body can do and what a body is. Our bodies are impregnated with a biological conception, there is a scientific knowledge that we put automatically into bodies and objects. We just know that they are made of molecules and atoms not of affects, spirits, or something similar and we take for granted that a body cannot be in two locations at the same time.

Even if this seems a very solid, grounded reality, there are spaces where this scientific, materialist thinking is ungrounded. It is possible that an Amazonian continues the end of the last paragraph about the impossibility of the same body to be in two locations at the same time by saying: “maybe not so much in Europe but in Amazonia it can”. This is multinaturalism, one important feature of Viveiros de Castro’s perspectivism(4) “a radically objective diversity. One single culture multiple natures”. There are multiple natures, different worlds, not an objective reality perceived and interpreted differently in each culture. Viveiros de Castro was aware that in this kind of worlds a dematerialization of the body and of the thinking was necessary: “What I call ‘body’ is not a synonym with a distinct substance or fixed shape; it is an assemblage of affects or ways of being that constitutes a habitus”. This type of Amazonian material, says Aparecida Vilaça, will allow us to discern a body that is not impregnated with a biological conception, “a body whose existence is fleeting and whose reality lies in the eyes of others”(5).

For a non-scientific organized perception even a shadow can have the consistency of a body and it is much more than an optical effect. For some Amazonian populations the objects or subjectivities that a person incorporates are immediately replicated by that person‘s shadow(6). Vilaça noticed that many Amazonians use the same word for shadow, soul, traces left by the body, vital principle - because “the soul is actualized as a body in another world, very often conceived as a world in negative, exactly like that of the shadow”(7). According to Carlos Castaneda this world in negative should be cultivated through 'not-doing' which  consists of “a perceptual game of focusing attention on features of the world that were ordinarily overlooked, such as the shadows of things”(8).

For the new sorcerers described by Castaneda this not-doing together with other knowledge and practices are necessary for producing a double, a strange second body. The Body without Organs seems to be related with this world in negative too, and also with the shadow and night - Artaud wanted to build it by ‘dilatating’ the body of the ‘internal night’. And similarly to some Amazonians and the new sorcerers of Castaneda, he didn’t wanted to destroy his own ‘paralyzed body’, the organic body the body object of biology, medicine, hygiene, and so on, what he wanted to do was to rebuild or discover ‘another automaton’ that would generate itself by the “following forces, flows, and time, another time”(9).

We don’t know how to produce this kind of a second body or how to work with the shadows or with the external and internal night, but exactly this impossibility can be the starting point, the unknown can become a procedure - ‘I don’t know’ as the constantly present premise. In Real Time Composition (a practice initiated by João Fiadeiro in the field of contemporary dance) an important aspect is to resist the first decision, the first impulse for acting in a certain situation and to wait for a ‘second wave’, a second inspiration. The first wave options are coming from the habitus, from the automaton body, the second wave, if you learn to recognize it, brings a response that is connected to the newness of the situation and brings presence.

By inserting a tendency to resist the need of manipulating yourself according to what you know, to your evaluation and judgment of the situation, a non envisioned second possibility appears. If at the level of our micro-movements and micro-decisions a small space or a small delay is inserted and a bit of unknowing can occur, then the known retreats a step back, a potentiality for something else to take over appears and this can be felt as newness, as presence. In some zones of contemporary dance the concept of ‘presence’ is very important. Presence happens when the performer is sensible and she connects with an unknown second reality. And, because that reality is not personal and sometimes not even human, somehow this act of being sensible affects the audience too and the black box of the theater becomes magical.

If the worlds and the natures are organized around habits it is not possible to produce other world and other body through simple acts of volition nor just through theoretical approaches. Instead of changing ourselves and developing new practices, we can add layers of unknown to what we already do, by adding  a second nature, second intentions, shadow attention, shadow processes and activities to the everyday behaviours, to the first reality. The first body cannot and does not have to be annihilated or replaced, what we can do is to grow a second body by diverting attention from the known body and feeding the unknown. What could take over is an inverted, negative, shadow attention.

The first body is constituted around an attention which creates the body as an image, as an instrument, as a body schema coordinated from the center of control. It is a spectacle attention which is searching for objects to exploit, an attention which perceives the environment as separate, as something to conquer and dominate. This spectacle attention is stretched to the maximum nowadays and accelerates all the (in)capacities of the first body, especially the incapacity to affect and to be affected(7). Presenteeism according to Peter Fleming can be a form of strike from the first world and first attention: “Presenteeism is where you turn up to your job but you just sit there and you’re vacant and you go through the motions and you do the bare minimum and wish you were somewhere else”(8).

The distance, distrust for the first attention and a bit of unknowing are increasingly difficult to produce in our world but they form a necessary ambience for a second attention to develop. A second attention that reverses the first attention and comes from periphery, it goes from body to mind. It is not so much oriented towards domination as around sensibility. It is not about sending commands to the body but more about receiving affectivity from the form of the body. This is an opening attention, an attention that goes towards the unknown. Tom Sparrow, following Strauss, calls this affective attention an “alingual animal intelligibility”  - “a type of intelligibility nascent in sensibility, an intelligibility that is affective before it is intelligible and vital before it is rational. It is a pre-rational intelligence that we humans share with the other fleshy beings”(9).

This sensibility connects us to what Massumi calls the ‘non-human strata’ that are integrated in the human body(10) and to what a ‘radically open’ body absorbs from the context, environment in which it moves(11). Towards a general bioaffection, a general sensibility and empathy between living organisms are pointing also the studies on ‘primary perception’ in plant life by Cleve Backster(12). Maybe there is a general communication or circulation that forms of life are sharing or even the ‘inorganic beings’ if we listen to the new sorcerers described by Castaneda who are placing affectability in the inorganic world as well, by speaking of inorganic entities “with awareness, but no life as we understand life”(13).

The main technique for lucid dreaming and for out of body experiences is to become aware of your body or a part of your body while asleep. This creates a strange feedback loop which initiates awareness and intensifies the presence in the ‘dream world’. By making the dreams real or by becoming real in the dream the dreaming body appears. This kind of body attention is an interesting way of creating a body and probably there is a key here about how the first body is constituted, and about how the shadow body can be created. Maybe by deviating a certain amount of attention, of affection, of energy from the first body and the first world in the direction of an intensification of the Unknown, a second attention and a second body can appear, in the same way that, by deviating attention from the dream activity, a dreaming body appears.

For Deleuze and Guattari “the concept is the contour, the configuration, the constellation of an event to come”(14). Second Body can function as a sort of attractor that maybe at a certain point can shake the complete identification with the first body. Second Body as a concept is necessary for a partial coagulation, stabilization and configuration of affects, ideas, practices and habits that arise around the shadow attention. Second Body is a concept but it can be also an concrete unvisual, ungrounded, unknown body, a second nature or even the body that flies in your dreams. Second Body is not so much about what exists or what is possible, or about what you can comprehend or validate, Second Body is not a body that you have, it is rather a body that has you, it is a occasion through which the unknown can abduct you.

Now my body is engaged in writing this text not only in typing it but also in the production of the text, all the organs involved in the act of speaking are also active in thinking and writing. And now your body is engaged in reading what I write. Both our activities intensify the principle of a mind organizing and commanding the body. But concomitant to this executive flow there is a second, affective flow that comes from the body, which is usually silenced. While you are reading this a second attention can be added by feeling the information that comes from the posture, small movements, expression of the face and the atmosphere around them. And  by feeling the shadows that in this way become more important than the features of the world. This can change a bit your perception of beings and objects in your proximity or even distance. By registering all these a small sensible feeling between you and the forms of life and objects around you can appear. You add in this way a second perception, a non interpretative one: that is related with a direct sensibility. If this shadow attention becomes a habit, a shadow body and other worlds acquire some consistency.



1. Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch, New York: Autonomedia, 2004
2. Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret Lock, The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology, http://www.jstor.org/stable/648769
3. Alfonso Lingis quoted in Tom Sparrow, Bodies in Transit: The Plastic Subject of Alphonso Lingis, http://t.co/oM9oFTAH
4. Viveiros de Castro, Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism, http://clst307.wikispaces.com/file/view/perspectivism.pdf
5. Aparecida Vilaça, Chronically Unstable Bodies: Reflections on Amazonian Corporalities, http://www.ppgasmuseu.etc.br/professores/aparecida/txt/chronically_unstable.pdf
6. Fernando Santos-Granero, Beinghood and people-making in native Amazonia, http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/25
7. Aparecida Vilaça, Chronically Unstable Bodies...
8. Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power, http://controlledfolly.googlepages.com
9. Kuniichi Uno, The Genesis of an Unknown Body, Sao Paulo: n-1, 2012
10. Florin Flueras, We are all Reptilians Now, http://florinflueras.blogspot.ro/2012/08/we-are-all-reptilians-now.html
11. Peter Fleming interviewed by Jennifer Martin, Working stiffs : Corporatism and its impact on our jobs and lives, http://t.co/C5bjKeDQ
12. Tom Sparrow, Bodies in Transit: The Plastic Subject of Alphonso Lingis, http://t.co/oM9oFTAH
13. Brian Massumi, Like a thought, in A Shock to Thought, Expression after Deleuze and Guattari, Edited by Brian Massumi, London and NewYork: 2002
14. Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect, http://t.co/c0OT4UY3DT
15. Cleve Backster, Evidence of a Primary Perception in Plant Life, http://www.rebprotocol.net/clevebaxter/Evidence%20of%20a%20Primary%20Perception%20In%20Plant%20Life%2023pp.pdf
16. Carlos Castaneda, Power of Silence, http://controlledfolly.googlepages.com
17. Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, What is philosophy? New York: Columbia University Press, 1994

Love of Gold and Fear of Darkness

...possibilities are, in effect, more open to him who relinquished knowledge (the walk through fields with a botanical textbook) Georges Bataille 

To reach a new an unknown land and journey along unknown roads, travelers cannot be guided by their own knowledge . . . the soul, too, when it advances, walks in darkness and unknowing John of the Cross

Gold is associated with sun, stability, the highest value, it is the precious solid of the solar capitalism. It is brightness, enlightenment, light of knowledge maximum visibility, peak of spectacle. Gold aspiration (also in the form of wealth or money aspiration) is the shared common dream, the common denominator - gold provides the bridge between the human desires, and, in the end, makes possible the contemporary human communities the way we experience them today. 

Alchemical procedures were developed for extraction/production of the gold out of nigredo - the maximal putrefied blackness. Alchemy's aims are to clearly separate or create the good, useful substance from dirt, cheap materials, unwanted residues, unshiny substances - to transform the obscure, mysterious nigredo into maximum clarity of the pure gold. Along the way of alchemical experimentation, with the help of philosophers like Descartes, a scientific rationality was developed with a similar approach of separating the truth from lie, the rational from irrational. This rationality needed a huge and violent purge of irrational, a witch hunt against the nigredo of irrational to install itself. 

Reza Negarestani considers that this attitude of avoiding the unknown was and it is central for what he calls "old rationality". This classical rationalism verifies what already knows, it cannot mobilize itself to confront the obscure, the unknown. That's why appears as rigidity, dogmatism. But Negarestani speaks also about a new elan of the rationality, a new rationality that is no more afraid of the irrational and unknown. New rationality is like cowboys in the wild west, it is the frontier man of reason, it carries the violence of reason. New rationality deploys the whole armamentarium at the limits of the irrational. Instead of dismissing the irrational it confronts it frontally. It confronts the irrational not to verify it but to imagine new methodologies of reason.

The new rationality, visible a lot in the Speculative Realism movement, is a way of radicalizing the fight against the irrational and unknown. It is a way of amplifying and accelerating the paradigm of the known. Its methods are still the methods of old rationality, that of bringing out the shiny nuggets of knowledge from the darkness of the unknown, it is a violent radicalized mining, like all contemporary mining. But how would a retreat of the violence of knowledge from things be like, how would it be to try to get along with the unknown? What could be the anti-gold, the unvisual ungold of darkness, holes and unknowing?

Black Gold was historically coffee, coal, oil, slaves, but it is also the gold related with the black sun that illuminates the dissolution of the body, and the blackening of matter. Dark gold is a currency for the unknown, a non visual gold that unshines when is touched by nonlight. There is no scarcity of dark gold, but its presence is repressed exactly because it can be overwhelming. Dark gold is an accumulation of unknown and unknowing, but it cannot be yours, it is not something that you possess, you cannot accumulate or invest in dark gold. At best your body can feel it as a shiver of fear when you enter alone in a black forest during the night. Dark gold is there all around and all the time and appears by undoing the knowing, in the same way that darkness appears when you withdraw the light. Dark gold is the ungold, the unknown. 

You don't accumulate dark gold by doing something, dark gold can accumulate you if you undo your impulses and habits. Undoing means to suspend the proper way of answering to different situations: undoing of the images through practices like giving selective importance to the shadows rather than to what we perceive as objects; undoing of the orientation by turning the heights into pits and the pits into ceilings, depriving verticality and horizontality of their meaning; undoing of the body and its habits of perception, sensibility and action that are grounded in known; undoing the knowing by ceasing the study of the darkness with a flashlight and by going with the night. 

Undoing brings night and confusion, you lose the ground of the known and the pits of unknowing are opening "under" you. By dissolving in this way the gold of the known one performs a kind of reverse alchemy, from gold to nigredo. This requires a reverse attitude in which the love of gold is replaced by fear of darkness. The fear of darkness is the moment when your senses cannot extract much from the world, what is available to you, and what you know is not enough for being in control and to maintain yourself stable. Then a sensibility for the unknown can appear, first in a form of a cold chill of fear in the body. This fear of the darkness of unknown grows in us as a second nature or a second body that can easily fall in the pits of unknowing and eventually starts to "see", to feel the unshines of the dark gold.

Biosorcery at House of Drama Oslo

5 September, 20h30
Florin Flueras, Alina Popa

Paradoxically, we experience an infinite openness of the real, we are overwhelmed by the vastness of the possible and at the same time the reality is more and more something to consume in pre defined bits - packages of pre-fabricated, ready made life-slots. There is a new assembly line of lived experience at the center of contemporary production, the financial catechism structures and automatizes affective flows. Without necessary knowing we embraced an economic logic that works as a religion, creating the forms of life that we are and that we experience around us. And, as it was the case with the great witch-hunt of the 17th century, any inflection of belief, superstition or imagination blasting the drone of biopower is dismissed and repressed, patronizingly looked at and coldly subordinated to science and to the uniformity of collective perception.

How to escape the mechanisms that are creating only one possible world, that are confining the virtual to an extent that any potential of variation is exhausted? How can we place ourselves in a position of self-fragilization, which allows a power to affect and a power to be affected?

Sorcery was always the last resort for resisting this kind of religious take over of reality with its total organization of perceptions, behaviours and affects. Biosorcery is about production of new life from the precarious, bare life that inhabits us. It is about exhausting the spectacle potential, about achieving an affective attention as opposed to the current marketization of distracted affection and non-empathic attentiveness. Biosorcery is the displacement of the habitual microstructures from the monolithic body-home and their autonomization. When the body de-organizes and de-connects from its familiar structure, when its movements override the normative patterns prescribed by the economic logic, then the human can become something else.

Part of the Postspectacle days in Oslo:
http://postspectacle.blogspot.com

(With the support of Teatru Spălătorie Chisinau)

We Are All Reptilians Now

We Live a Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories are in a special relation with reality, they are perceived either as the most radical and profound explanation of it or as pure fiction. They are theories of extremes - you make fun of them or you approach them religiously. Or at least this was the case before 2008, now it looks like they become more and more common sense, banal reality. The recent occupy movements brought the 1% vs 99% discourse in the headlines and slowly by slowly the "financial elites" moved from the weird Internet sites abounding in one eyed pyramids to the mainstream media. It is not so easy to laugh about conspiracy theories anymore.

Some conspiracy theories described long time ago the verticalization of power, the pyramidal dominance of the world and of our lives by supra-democratic structures and financial capitalism. Some of them prefigured also, what is now almost a common place already, the fact that the new economy is centered on the production of subjectivity. They are contemporary mythologies that captured the collective imagination explaining in simple ways what's going on and providing glimpses about the future. Not surprisingly Boris Groys considers that following the death of God, the conspiracy theory became the only surviving form of traditional metaphysics as a discourse about the hidden and the invisible. Where we once had nature and God, we now have design and conspiracy theory.(1)

The Birth of Homo-Saurus

But who are "we" in these last mythologies?
In the beginning of the 80s neoliberalism took over and new forms of life were born, a new subjectivity appeared, mainly as a result of increased exploitation of our intimate capacities like affectivity, sensibility, imagination... Conspiracy theories and some areas from the periphery of culture like obscure SF and B movies were sensitive to the changes that appeared in the human shape, and, as a result, the reptilian was born. The reptilians appeared in movies, writings, peoples dreams, in repressed memories of abductions extracted under hypnosis and they were retrospectively projected back onto the entire history.

The reptilians are described as cold and calculating individuals devoid of empathy, extremely individualistic and competitive, with lack of compassion, "far less emotionally sensitive than humans". They are mostly from the ruling class, like successfully CEO's, media moguls. And they are contagious, they seek to influence everyone by stimulating the behaviour patterns of the reptile region of the brain that is responsible for hierarchical thinking, aggression, conflict, division, lack of compassion, etc.(2)

Now we know that the reptilians do exist. Of course, in the scientific research they are not called like that but psychopaths. The main characteristic of the psychopath is the same as that of the reptilian, the lack of empathy with the others. And it seems like the psychopaths are likely to be found in the same places as reptilians, namely business, law, politics and the media, or, to put it in the words of Robert Hare, who did years of research on psychopathic behavior: “Wherever you find money, prestige and power you will find them."(3)

Psychopathy is a successful adaptive behavior for getting ahead in our type of society. In general if you are sensitive to the ecological, social impact of what you are doing and empathic with human and non human suffering you're out of business. In order to be economically successful you have to be a psychopath. Psychopathy is the job description for success.

This is in a way, for the 99%, a very comfortable situation - there are some bad guys, the one per cent of pigs, reptiles or anyway something fundamentally different from us, the relatively good guys, and they do all the bad economico-political stuff. There is a historical tendency to degrade what you want to exploit, dominate, torture or eliminate by identifying them as animals - to compare the victims to brutes who deserve such treatments. In this crisis the same mechanism was set off - there was a lot of hate towards the greedy bankers, hedge funds managers, towards the disgusting animals that started all this collapse.

But Neoliberalism or Financial Capitalism is not only on Wall Street, it is in our habits, patterns of perception and movement, in our reflexes, attitudes, desires. The most scary thing is not that the psychopaths are privileged and socially and economically rewarded in this Financial Capitalism, but the fact that this new economy and our way of organizing society is producing the psychopath. Recent studies using fMRI and magneto-ecephalography (MEG) have established that cultural experience and the way our society is organized radically shapes the microstructure of the brain, virtually influencing all critical brain areas; shaping and determining neural patterns; affecting brain structure; and modulating cognitive function. Our bodies and minds are organized by these reptilian impulses and empathy is the "obstacle" that is wiped out in this financial reality (4). We are all reptilians now.

The Imperceptible Evil

The new subjectivity was so much different from the previous one of the industrial capitalism that it was perceived as radically alien - it comes from far away, another galaxy or from underground bases. The neoliberal subjectivity appeared as something repulsive, sometimes scary, the new corporate life was perceived as a fundamental evil.

Similar phenomena seem to happen in periods of fundamental socio-economical change. Michael T. Taussig describes how in South America, as a result of colonialism and the appearance of Capitalism, new forms of exploitation appeared with effects like: the individual is dislocated from the community. Wealth exists alongside crushing poverty. Economic laws triumph over ethical ones. Production, not man, is the aim of the economy, and commodities rule their creators. All this new situations were perceived as manifestations of the Devil and the collaboration with the new economy was perceived as a contract with the Devil.(5)

This perception changed quickly and the previous horror of capitalist organization of society became ordinary reality, normal everyday life. This kind of normalization seems to be happening all the time and was happening with the reptilian too. At the end of 80s the cultural assimilation/camouflage of the reptilians looks to be completed. Movies like They Live or Society captured very well this situation - you need special lenses or a special sensibility to can perceive or feel the reptilians and the horrible things that they (we) do.

In the former Eastern Block same process happened but with a bit of delay. In the beginning of 90's in Romania, when people started to travel to the West, all kinds of stories about their contact with the capitalist subject appeared. They were depicted as cold, individualist, non empathic, with fake professional smiles, non-human, robot-like, without soul or with a small one. But turbo-capitalism arrived at full speed and all these stories are gone, we are the same species now, yet with minor cultural differences. Very quickly the reptilian becomes the normality, and this perception of difference disappears.

It looks like in order to be able to criticize our own form of life we need a contrast, a big shift in the economic and social forces that are producing us. In transition periods between two systems (as it was the beginning of neoliberalism) there are short time-windows in which the shape of the subjectivity can be visible. But what can be done in a situation like the current one when the difference that rendered the production of Homo-Saurus visible has quickly disappeared?

Film still from They Live, 1988, by John Carpenter

Becoming Empathic Reptile

One of the favorite solutions of conspiracy theories for defeating the reptilian is love, to send love right along their energy streams. Make the Reptilians defeat themselves by having them transmit love energy wherever they intend to travel, abduct, possess, etc.(6) This makes sense, if the reptilian's main characteristic is a total lack of empathy, love as radical empathy seems to be the solution. Love is the opposite of reptilian-neoliberal simple and efficient, profit-oriented algorithms, individualism and permanent competition with the others. Love as radical empathy is one of the few states of being where we can be, sometimes in a dramatic way, triggered out of our economic patterns of perceiving all human and non human presences and relations. Nevertheless, there is a big problem with this kind of solution, it is not very helpful, it's like saying that the solution against poverty is to get rich, which may be true but has little practical use. The problem is that there is no place from where the states of mind and feelings related to love and empathy can be experienced because they are almost erased from the current map of our subjectivity.

Paradoxically, a first step in addressing our reptilian nature can be to go in the opposite direction, to intentionally become reptile, to consciously embody the reptilian. When we intentionally perform the (micro)behaviours and (micro)perceptions that constitute our reptilian nature, an awareness can appear at this molecular level where the reptilian inserted itself almost unnoticed in the human shape. We can become aware about the way we embody the reptilian and maybe we can start to feel our reptilian features. And this is the moment when mutations start to happen and new forms of life, different bread of monsters can appear.

(Speech delivered in the Postspectacle Shelter)

1. Boris Groys, Self-Design and Aesthetic Responsibility http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/68
2. David Icke, The Biggest Secret, Scottsdale Arizona: Bridge of Love Publications, 1999
3. A Radical Blackfoot: Capitalism: A System Run By and For Psychopaths, http://aradicalblackfoot.blogspot.com/2007/02/capitalism-system-run-by-and-for.html?m=1
4. Gary Olson, Empathy and Neuropolitics: This is your brain on neoliberal culture. Any questions? http://home.moravian.edu/public/polsci/pdfs/EmpathyAnd%20Neuropolitics.pdf
5. Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010
6. The Mystic Avenger, How to defeat the Reptilians, http://www.mysticalwonders.org/group/about3077.html

Bio-Sorcery at Teatru Spălătorie Chisinau, Today

Florin Flueras, Alina Popa 

Paradoxically, we experience an infinite openness of the real, we are overwhelmed by the vastness of the possible and at the same time the reality is more and more something we consume in pre defined bits - packages of pre-fabricated, ready made life-slots. There is a new assembly line of lived experience at the center of contemporary production, the financial catechism structures and automatizes affective flows. Without necessary knowing we embraced an economic logic that works as a religion, creating the forms of life that we are and that we experience around us.

Sorcery was always the last resort for resisting this kind of religious take over of reality with its total organization of perceptions, behaviours and affects. Bio-Sorcery is about production of new life from the precarious, bare life that inhabits us.

What can we do with an Apocalypse

It is 2012 and the Apocalypse is here. The question is what can we do with it, what can we do with this concept, what is its potential? Apocalypse in the common sense means the end of the world, it etymologically means a lifting of the veil or a revelation about what is already here, hidden in plain sight.

Nowadays we have too many signs of the end and not so many about the revelation. We cross or we are about to cross some major important boundaries like climate change, species extinction, the disruption of the nitrogen-phosphorus cycles, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, freshwater usage, land cover change... Each of these rifts in planetary boundaries constitutes an actual or potential global ecological catastrophe.(1) The panic of the end is everywhere: it is in the current desperate phase of capitalism with its aggressive and destructive scratching for the last resources, using techniques like tar sands, fracking and deep sea exploitation... And, similarly, it is in the aggressive exploitation of the sensitive zones of human subjectivity - our emotions, empathy, sociability, intuition, imagination are now extracted and put to work at the center of the economy. The consequences on ecosystems, socio-systems, psycho-systems are the same – they are all collapsing.

All this should be presented daily in the news, everybody should think, debate, try to find solutions... But it isn't. To deal with some peripheral symptoms then facing the monster seems to be preferable - what to do with the fact that acidification of oceans dangerously increased by 30% lately, climate change is now largely irreversible (2) or what about the fact that we are in the middle of the fastest mass extinction in the known history, including the 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs extinction? (3)

The spectacle goes on at any price, and the price is continuously growing, while more and more policing at all levels is needed. A militarization of police takes place everywhere. Even drones with no human attached, the perfect partner of capital, are in the air now searching for enemies. And there are drones that are set to operate on the domestic fronts too, the war is with the 99%, the enemy moves closer and closer, the terrorist is your neighbor, the enemy is you. With all the private contractors that are replacing the police and the state army, the administration of death can become more profitable than the exploitation of the living. So, the morbid component of capitalism (until now only externalized and contained at the periphery, in the 3rd and 2nd World) is spreading everywhere.

All these conditions provide a continuous state of emergency, a lot of important distractions and non-events. There is a great time acceleration, always something urgent to figure out, to fix, there is no time to reflect, to evaluate the whole - all the solutions are technical and punctual. The veil is lifted but there is no time to see.

Even the supposed resistance looks to be trapped in this small range of perception – in the end, for protests we have to be realistic and to have reasonable demands - like, everything will be OK, we just have to change this bad and corrupt politicians, we just need to have more people on the streets... There is a very conservative impulse beyond all this. Everything is based on the image of what already is, there is a strange lack of imagination, it seems that the only solution that we can imagine is to amplify the problem.

Two million people in New York against the War in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Athens, sometimes even winning in confrontation with Police, but what for, to be ruled by a technocrat from Goldman Sachs? The same thing happens now in Romania: the government was changed at "the pressure of the streets" into something much more toxic. Just to have an idea, the prime minister is a former head of a secret service agency, the Ministry of Agriculture is the CEO of Monsanto Romania... We are not ready to face the hopeless situation of the protests, maybe because it is too late, and somehow we can feel it... Ignorance and collective denial seem to be the main strategies in use, in order to cope with the depression related to our present and (no) future.

Our needs are linked in a complicated way with the present capitalist reality and this makes it practically impossible for us to can really move away. Without necessary wanting it, we continue to protect the status quo and to operate according to an economic logic that pushes us to the wall. In a perverse way, we are all depend on our collapse and that's why we can't even imagine an alternative.

Talk with the elephant in the room, in its own language

It is a hopeless situation and we still have too much hope. In the “2012” movie, between the hundreds of the 1% elite that saved themselves on that ark, miraculously there was also one family from the 99% to show that even in the midst of the catastrophic end of the world there is still some hope. We have to kill that stupid hope or to leave it to the 1%.

There are some small signs that we are more ready than before to give up hope and to go a bit beyond the reformist impulses. For instance, as a reaction to the softening of the discourse around the Occupy movement, a FULL COMMUNISM meme appeared on Twitter. Here is a very good description of this meme: Like #occupy, it’s a shared shout of “I’m fucking sick of this shit”. Unlike #occupy, however, it also holds an added threat: “I’m so fucking sick of this shit I have no desire to reform it. I want to go beyond. I want to fuck shit up”. (4) Similarly in Romania people preferred to #occupyRomania, #Universitate (the name of the square where the protests happened in Bucharest), the #revolutie (revolution) hashtag to communicate on Twitter.

And there are also small signs that are visible everywhere in the daily life. For instance in all statistics Romania is one of the most depressed nations. Some friends from abroad are amazed that the waitresses, saleswomen and salesmen are not even trying to smile to their clients anymore. But this is an important sign of sanity, of connection with one's own feelings, of acceptance of depression and the misery of (self)exploitation. It is much more problematic to try to keep it up or to be adjusted. The world as it is now doesn't seem to be the best moment and place to be happy.

Maybe we should occupy our depression and hopelessness and let it work. A lucid desperation can be a good idea. Even fear can be a good idea. Probably the best way to go through this panic and anxiety era is to stay afraid, to stay in contact with the collapse - panic and anxiety to get their object of fear. Maybe it is time to see what is happening when the collective energy of hopelessness, depression, mixed with a lucid fear and an apocalyptic awareness, accumulates. If we don't block them anymore and we let them work.

In one of Castaneda's books (5) Don Juan speaks about a kind of death awareness as the base of some very powerful transformative processes. He speaks about Death as our eternal companion that is always to our left, at an arm's length and it's always watching us, until the day it taps us. Death awareness is essential for a different perception about what is important and to give the necessary impulse to start the radical change of subjectivity needed to become a man of knowledge or sorcerer. It works as an advisor and puts the things that we deal with in a configuration with much more potential.

What if we do the same with apocalypse at a social scale? Being aware that Apocalypse is at the length of an arm away can be the social equivalent of Castaneda's individual approach to death. Having all the time in our peripheral view the current collapse - the thousands of starving children that are dying every day, the 200 species of animals and plants that are disappearing every day - can give us the real dimension of what is happening, the needed urgency and the impulse for radical change. Apocalyptic awareness can be the constant transformative presence that we need - a weapon-concept that reopens the field of the possible in a dead world. So, let’s talk with the 'elephant in the room', in its own language.

1. John Bellamy Foster, Capitalism and Environmental Catastrophe, http://t.co/0AsQYGAw
2. Gilbert Mercier, Overpopulation, Climate Change, Food Crisis, War: The Horsemen Of Apocalyptic Capitalism, http://t.co/LPxz9SE2
3. Here is an archive of articles about the current mass extinction http://www.well.com/~davidu/extinction.html
4. @Spitzenprodukte, On FULL COMMUNISM: cursory notes on the evolution of mimetic non-demands http://t.co/QtW2tWoM
5. Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan, http://controlledfolly.googlepages.com

The Inauguration of the People's Salvation Cathedral

The Romanian Orthodox Church wants to build a huge People's Salvation Cathedral. Of course with money from the state budget (around 900 millions euro). Ironically it will be next to the House of the People, the huge building made during Ceausescu's regime. The construction is on, but near it a small, simple and cheap prefab-church has been already built for temporary use, as a way to mark the territory. The Presidential Candidate organized a public campaign announcing that the People's Salvation Cathedral has been already finished and 11.11.11 was the date set for its inauguration.

For the ceremony the Candidate dressed in priest and, after a very short religious procession, he inaugurated the prefab-church as the actual People's Salvation Cathedral. He also apologized in the name of the Orthodox Church for the exploitation and commercialization of gypsy slaves by the Romanian Orthodox Church that went until later 19th century (a taboo issue for the Church).

The priest announced that the orthodox churches will be open day and night and will serve as a shelter for the continuously growing number of homeless people, pushed away from their homes by the harsh Turbo-Capitalism.

He announced also some possible reforms inside the Church, for example granting women the same rights as men to perform the mass and have access in the hierarchical structure at any level, not just to clean the church and sell candles. He also criticized the hierarchical structure of the Church and its hypocrisy - everything is in gold, a lot of properties and political power. The top members of Church travel in limousines surrounded by police, blocking the traffic for the rest of people. In all these facts, the Candidate-priest recognized the Antichrist - the opposite of the Jesus message encompassing simplicity, poverty, love...

Nevertheless the general tone of his preaching was pervaded by a sense of thankfulness for the honor to inaugurate the People's Salvation Cathedral. The priest was happy to help the Romanian Orthodox Church make such an important step towards christianity: choosing to build a simple and spiritual church instead of the opulent home for the Antichrist.

The official sermon was abruptly interrupted by an aggressive orthodox faction that pushed the priest down the stairs and recommended him to perform a self-decapitation immediately after he would take off the holy costume.

An Artist More a Terrorist Less

In Romania during the so called "communist period" there was what they called "the resistance through culture". In the sense that some artists and intellectuals didn't compromise to praise the dictator, but at the same time they didn't take any risks, they went with the regime doing their art and now they pretend that they were dissidents. They are very badly judged now. They are called "collaborators". Paradoxically they are more badly judged than the obvious collaborators. People accuse them that it was their responsibility to criticize the regime and because they didn't do it, they legitimized the regime. It was their responsibility to set how the struggle should look like and what they provided was a kind of a fake resistance, succeeding in this way to steal potential from other kinds of resistance(1).

Same now. There is the obvious collaboration, the clear example being the "creative industries" and the artists that are "sent" in problematic places, in slums, between immigrants or in "emergent" countries to prepare the terrain for "democracy" and capital - the stalkers of capital, like in the past the catholic priests were send in colonies to introduce the christianity and the economic thinking.
But more problematic is the fake resistance, the subtle collaboration. The so called "political art", the majority of "critical theory" that are carefully attentive not to pass some clear limits. It is problematic because they are setting the tone of how the resistance and critique in society should look like.

Analyzing how media works, Chomsky noticed a kind of interiorised self-censorship, an interiorised authority at the core of it. The tendency is to self-adjust to the "normal"/official perception, to the status quo. People automatically take the frame of the superior publications, which take the frame of officials, which take the frame of the financial sustainers. The self-censorship is not so much about what information is presented, it is more about the perspective about reality, about the implicit paradigm from which the reading of what's happening emerges(2).

This kind of analysis can be easily extended to art and to entire cultural component. The artist, like the journalist, is in a chain of economic-political power relations. He's the subject of a pressure from above - curators, programers, which are the subject of a pressure from politicians or banks/corporations (via financial support). From this point of view the artist is a link between officials and the subjectivities it addresses, an important piece in a chain of power influences.

The majority of the population is sufficiently "covered" by the mass media and entertainment, apparently the contemporary art play a small role in the big picture. Maybe from the quantitative point of view, but from the point of view of how power operates, the target of high culture (contemporary art, academic theory, etc.) is tremendously important because it assimilates and addresses the marginal people that are more at unrest, emancipated, unsatisfied, activists, critical, etc. Foucault noticed that the power always focused to assimilate, to integrate or to criminalize/annihilate this dangerous, more marginal, independent subjects(3).

Art (and Academia) seems to be some of the best solutions for assimilating, absorbing, discharging and disarming in its key points the resistance, dissent, revolt and frustration accumulated in society. It works like a substitution, it swallows real struggles, the real potentiality and transforms them into consumable spectacular cultural products like art. It is an appropriation of struggles. This accumulation of struggles creates the cultural (and artistic) bubble, a luxurious prison where the dangerous people, thoughts, concepts and intentions are domesticated.

Art is Infinitely Better Than Reality

Ranciere is enthusiastic about the fact that aesthetics were set since the beginning to work on the egalitarian principles: "The very idea of Art - of the aesthetic experience - as defining a specific sphere of experience was born in the late eighteenth century under the banner of equality: the equality of all subjects, the definition of a form of judgment freed from the hierarchies of knowledge and those of social life"(4).

We can spot here a fundamental problem - the fact that art was set since the beginning to answer to this important needs and aspirations in an alternative reality - to function as a substitute that enables an abstraction from the concrete ideologico-political constellation. Religion offered this kind of compensation-refuge further in time, in the next-other life, art seems more efficient and can give a compensation now, but not here - in alternative realities, escaping in spaces of creativity, representation.

Freud considers that "life as we find it is too hard for us; it entails too much pain, too many disappointments, impossible tasks. We cannot do without palliative remedies… There are perhaps three of these means: powerful diversions of interest, which lead us to care little about our misery; substitutive gratification, which lessen it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensitive to it. Something of this kind is indispensable"(5).

Art/aesthetic seems to be a good "remedy" that plays all this three palliative functions so needed to cope with the inequality, exploitation, domination and precarity of life. Art can be seen as a space in which you can play with "radical" changes in a safe and inoffensive environment - a provided, institutionalized place for critique and experiment in order to keep the status quo outside of it.

Ranciere and with him others artists and theorists, says that art is already political just because it exists and modifies the regime of sensible, producing emancipation, etc. Of course these theories are a big hype among artists because they justify and provide rationalizations for "my art is my activism" attitude. It is very convenient, you just stay in your art studio and work at the level of finesse and sensible, and you are in the same time revolutionary, subversive and so on. You are a radical artist without touching on the power relations. You keep the privileges and you do resistance at the same time.

Everybody is happy - the artist, the State, the Capital. The Power don't want the artists capacities, intelligence and knowledge to be used in real dissent activities or in real protests. So, since ever, the power is friendly with the artists. They always had a privileged place at the King/Capital court.
We can see the cultural component as the domain of biopolitics, where the power invest in the people's capacities for different reasons - to integrate and assimilate dissent, to softly control the critical discourse, the values and references in society or just to harvest the artists productivity after.
The cultural component can be included in what Chris Hedges calls the soft language of power -"the language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators"(6).

The brutal language of power, the war component, the morbid capitalism is the domain of necropolitics, where the power is a dis-investement in life, is more an administration of death, war and brutal exploitation. It is reserved to the periphery of capital in the violent expansion zone where things are turbulent and the power is classical, not subtle, not hidden behind benevolent appearances. The morbid component is for the second world a bit and for the third world a lot.
The morbid component for the periphery cannot exist without the consent of the center, without the cultural component.

And the cultural component, all the financial speculations, immaterial labor, etc. cannot exist without a base, without the classical power, violent exploitation, without the war component for the periphery. In a way all the immaterial labor and the cultural component are more a way to administrate and externalize the death politics in the periphery of the capital. The cognitarians are just the administrators of the very concrete and brutal production that happens in the periphery.
But the periphery is coming closer and closer to the first world. The cuts in fundings for arts, humanities probably means also that the cultural component is not so needed anymore - it is not necessary or it is not working anymore to keep up the appearances, the illusion. So there is a move of the morbid component towards the center. Probably it is better to hope that artists will always be rich...

The Final Crisis

The morbid and the cultural (spectacle) component put a huge pressure on the subject creating an universal capitalist subjectivity which constantly reinforces the capitalist reality. So it is a vicious circle - a constant unbreackable loop.

The capitalist expansion reached all the populations, all the resources and the limits of the earth. The economic-financial paradigm is omnipresent, addressing the totality of life - at the level of the organization of society through the power of the neoliberal dogma and at the level of subjectivity where probably the last fight, for the most intimate human "resources", capacities, sensibility, intimate desires, believes, is happening now. We can say that the ultimate battle is in the cultural domain which is almost entirely occupied by the economic logic.

Probably in this context if we want to produce a change, first of all we have to go out or against the institutionalized art bubble. White cube and black box provided a bit of oxygen in a stable society and a suffocating environment. They played a function then, they were important. But now is possible much more, the times are changing. We should help that art bubble to burst, the crisis to work. Maybe now, in the crisis there is an opportunity for us to go out from the assigned art bubbles and to use our time and skills to intervene on the biggest stages (mass media, politics).

Maybe is time for art to go where things happen. To interrupt the flow of spectacle, the institutional chain of passing the cultural agenda. Not to listen and even sabotage the administrative protocols in art - the artist has to become a cultural terrorist. "Terrorist" is a label that points towards any enemy, potential danger to the establishment. The terrorist and the little brothers, pirates and hackers are the only ones that are not assimilated and integrated in our society.(7)

And there is an another level were we also should go. If capitalism is modelating our cultural core, we should go at that level too - to radically work, experiment with subjectivity. Not just to play safe in the realm of representation with creativity but to experiment with essential human behaviours, values, perceptions, attitudes. If we really want something to change I think we have to go a bit beyond our comfort and alter the core of our identities. If we are Capitalism, the exploitation, the extinction of species, the climate changes, at least some parts of us have to transform radically or even die. In this sense, maybe we have to embrace a bit of cultural (artistic) apocalypse.


1. See Stefan Tiron, 10 years of beautifying misery in Bucharest http://caminultaucultural.blogspot.com/2011/05/premises-10-years-of-beautifying-misery.html
2. Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Pluto Press, London, 1999;
3. Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge, random house, US, 1981;
4. Jacques Ranciere, Art of the possible, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_7_45/ai_n24354911/pg_6/?tag=content;col1
5. Sigmund Freud, Civilization And Its Discontents, Buckinghamshire: Chrysoma Associated, 2000;
6. Chris Hedges, Recognizing the Language of Tyranny, http://jerichorendezvous.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/recognizing-the-language-of-tyranny/
7. See Dorato Action at Pavilion Unicredit as a cultural terrorism example: http://florinflueras.blogspot.com/2011/07/dorato-action.html

DORATO ACTION - PAVILION DISCREDIT

The 'Presidential Candidate' was happy when it got the invitation to participate in 'Just do it. Branding biopolitics' exhibition in Pavilion Unicredit space.

At Pavilion Unicredit one encounters :

Radical left, comunist, anarhist texts – in reality, corporate atmosphere, clear hierarchy and chain of command;

Exhibiting texts and works which critique authoritative power positions – in reality, using any means of authoritative power – may it be academia, prestige, lengthy self-eulogizing biographies;

Texts which critique mass-media manipulation – in reality, using the same tactics of manipulation, disinformation, denigration, attack against anyone who critiques their institution;

Statements for institutional critique and artists’ absolute freedom – in reality, censoring artists which through their works critique the context in which they were invited - in this case, Pavilion Unicredit.

Texts and works which condemn exploitation and neo-slavery – in reality, the exploitation of artists’ work;

Praise for the bank that funded the art institution - artists are not payed, but they are asked to write everywhere the name of the institution in capital letters: PAVILION UNICREDIT.

It seemed a clear case of anarcho-corporate schizophrenia, the perfect context to challenge the politics behind the so called political art.(1)
But, of course, things started to go not so well after telling Pavillion Unicredit what we planned to do and we sent the following text for the exhibition publication:

The Death of the Romanian Presidential Candidacy

The Presidential Candidacy project is dead! Long live The Presidential Candidacy artistic project!

The Romanian Presidential Candidate is happy to announce that the political project has finally arrived home - Contemporary Art. Here, with the support of the State, corporations or banks, is still possible to be political, to do political art. We are happy to exchange the grey, boring and ugly world of politics for the beautiful, free, open, creative, flexible, progressive, white, clean but also critical, radical and political world of art.
The Candidate

After some attempts to control our work, we were kicked out a couple of days before the opening with an email directly from the director, Razvan Ion, even if he previously stated that he would leave all the decisions to the curator, Simina Neagu.

But we decided already long time ago to not respect anymore the institutional power to mark the separation between invited/uninvited artist. In the Romanian Dance History project we reserve the right to perform on stages or present our work in art galeries without any invitation or approval, we decided to take control of the artistic spaces, to not be always framed, programed, curated, etc.(2)

Now we wanted to go a step further, to make all this dynamics visible by reversing this logic - to reverse the hierarchy in which the artist serves the institution: instead of acting under the institution umbrella. the artists can now be the ones framing the institution.

We anounced everywhere the opening of 'Just do it. Branding biopolitics' exhibition as a Presidential Candidacy event. Basically we took the event, we reframed the opening and the exibhition as ours. We started a promotion campaign and we invited the people to come to celebrate the opening with us and with a glass of Dorato champagne. The Dorato champagne is a good looking bottle but with a very, very cheap and dubious content. (around 1euro/bottle)

Furthermore, we announced that will be a special opening, since people were invited to see the opening as our performance. Fortunately it turned out to be a very interesting spectacle. The tension with the Pavilion crew built up so much before the opening that they exploded when they saw us entering with the Dorato champagne bottles in our hands. The show started with the Pavillion crew, led by its director Razvan Ion, screaming and pushing us out of the door in front of the shocked audience that didn't really understood what was going on. It was a big scandal, at some point the Pavilion director, who coordinated everything as a perfect general, put one of the employees to throw the seized bottles down the street (precisely at the entrance of the underground pasage). Some of the Dorato bottels felt on a car and the driver arrived furious and eager to see who was the idiot that did such a thing. In other words, it was a mess.(3)

A scandal is a moment when something is revealed, something burst publicly. It is a context in which the hidden or unconscious power relations become visible and important: a moment of the real, when things are exposed.

We just created the conditions for the real politics reveal, almost following the classical ready-made principle. All the essence of the anarcho-corporatism schizofrenia of Pavilion Unicredit's directors was there in front of everybody's' eyes. The Candidate accomplished his intention, now the contrast was made obvious: the political art on the walls and on the screens of the gallery and the real politics at work visible in the scandal.(4)

1. Here I wrote more about contemporary art situation: http://florinflueras.blogspot.com/2011/08/morbid-side-of-culture.html
2. See Romanian Dance History project: http://rodancehistory.blogspot.com
3. See Valentina Desideri's description of her experience in that evening: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1BbrXUGooOqIIlfpZMYy3PIUi68UC0R7b0A7Z7IaPV1A
4. See also another similar cases with artists that tried to collaborate with Pavilion Unicredit: http://art-leaks.org/

Discussion with Franco Berardi Bifo about the Presidential Candidacy project

Bifo: You underline awareness as the "main word". Don't you think that impotent awareness is kind of masochistic? What's the use of awareness when conscious collective action seems impossible?

Florin Flueras: Probably the impossibility of conscious collective action is because too much unconscious collective action - too much production, agitation, too much immersion in the official perception of the reality, too much involvement in the consumerist-capitalist religion.

Maybe for a conscious collective action the first thing that we have to do is to make space by stoping the unconscious collective action. A moment of paralyzing awareness can be good - a total stop, a total silence, a zero moment.

You have announced your presidential candidacy for the next elections in Romania. What's your aim? What's your program? Do you want really to change the political course of Romania?

We are a group and we mainly come from performance/contemporary dance. At some point we couldn't avoid anymore to raise a fundamental question for our art. What is the point to do our performances in the theatre, what is the point to add another spectacle in this society of generalized spectacle? Based on this question we started what we call postspectacle practice, with the intention to go with our skills and knowledge as performers and makers on the main stages - mass media and politics.

The candidacy is a mean to enter in the official debate, to get on TV basically. We don't go on TV to announce an alternative or another program; we go to expose what is behind a program, how a program works, to expose and to play with the spectacle of power and with the power of spectacle.

We don't enter in the political life because we have a solution. We enter more to raise the avoided questions and to deconstruct the official solutions, to make space, to create the premises for collective intelligence to manifest.

We don't have a plan because planning implies a logic of authority that we want to question. We see every day the unhappy results of planning the lives of the people by the state or corporations. People have the capacity to organize themselves if they are allowed to (as the workers that occupied the factories in Argentina proved, and many other communities when a vacuum of power has occurred). So maybe we can say that our plan is to un-plan. As we said in our announce for the candidacy, we want the power in order to dissolute the power.

We are very aware that first of all we cannot win the elections, and if we do, it doesn't matter. You don't do politics in Bucharest these days. You can see constantly how IMF functions as a kind of super ego that regulates the entire political and economical life of the country. So the democratic game doesn't mater as long as policies are made in supra-democratic structures like IMF, World Trade Organization, World Economic Forum, etc. What they call politics in Romania is the following of the directives of the supra-democratic structures and a bit of a provincial mafia administration and fights for the leftovers. Basically they take their commissions by selling the politics and the economics of the country.

The power becomes more and more verticalized and globalized and the authority becomes more and more complex, integrating the means of discipline, control and management of perception (means of producing auto-control - the interiorized authority). There is not a passage from disciplinary society to society of control, to arbitrary power, it is an accumulation - all kind of coercion coexist and amplify each other, shaping a power that reaches the limits of the world and the core of the subjectivity (exploiting or make us to self-exploit our souls, how you very well point out).

It looks like we are definitely lost. No possible plan, no possible solution, no hope. There is nothing to do but something must be done. We give up hope and in the same time we can somehow (secretly) believe in an event, a miracle or at least an apocalypse.

Can you describe the current situation of the young generation in your country? What are the labour conditions? What the average salary of a young worker?

The average fee in Romania is around 360 euro/month. Better for the people that work in informatics (majority young) average 850/month.

It was just voted the new working legislations and they are proud about its flexibility. But basically it is a flexibility for corporations, for employers to dispose even more and easier of the time and life of the workers, to be able to fire them easily and to overwork them. Basically the rights of the workers are decimated.

Romania is a clear case of a Second World country situated somewhere between the first world where the power invests in some people’s capacities in order to harvest their productivity after, and the third world with its brutal exploitation, fordist production, etc. So you can find something close to the third world sweat shops but also the first world immaterial labour.

How large is the space of cognitive work in the Romanian economy? Can we speak of a precarious cognitariat? What is the salary of a school teacher?

They reduced a lot the salaries for education. The perception is that you are a kind of loser if you work in the pre-university education. So the people avoid teaching and the quality of education is going always down.

The salary of school teachers are between 180 euro and 380 euro in pre-university education. In the Universities can go much higher, like 4000 euro/month in some cases (they were scandals on this issues).

I don't know statistics about how much cognitive work we have. But I can give you other statistics that I think can say something about this issue. Romania has the highest speed of internet in Europe and the first place for internet illegal activities too. Another curious thing is that Romania is the only country from Europe where the law that oblige internet providers to save personal information from people (emails, etc.) it was not approved.

We can speak about a generalized precarious life here. The people that have a job are afraid that they will lose it. And the others are improvising on the spot, each day, to survive. The official debate is allot around how to get rid of state employees, what is still possible to privatize and how to cut what we still have from education, healt care, pensions, etc. Like almost everywhere we assist at the killing of the social state.

What is the mind-scape of the young generation? Which kind of drugs (legal, illegal) are prevailing?

The main drugs, like everywhere in Capitalism, are coffee and allot of alcohol. Coffee to push the productivity, alcohol to kill the little free time and any possibility of a scary moment of lucidity. For the marginal people there is heroin, and for the very marginal the aurolac (a cheap paint inhaled from a plastic bag). I heard allot about people that take Xanax (anti-panic and anti-anxiety pills) and anti-depressives, but I don't know statistics. But I know a statistic that says that generally Romanians administrate themselves legal drugs when they are sick, without consulting a doctor (too expensive).

In general the mindscape is more and more shaped towards right wing, neocons directions, by money and propaganda that gives astonishing results. There is a very toxic mixture of nationalism combined with orthodox religion, racism, homophobia, etc. And this is growing and growing.

The other big tendency is a more centric one, perfectly represented by people from the creative industries. People that are cynical, not interested in politics, "against any ideology" and activism. They are into a life style copying the kind of Berlin atmosphere, parties, drugs, etc. But in practice they are not apolitical at all, they actually are working in creative industries like publicity, etc. - at the core of neoliberalism. And behind the attempts of cool, fashionable, original appearances, the majority shares a very conventional, mainstream and political ignorant perception. They use social networks mostly just for self expression and party events. This category consumes, besides the coffee-alcohol, also ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, etc.

The people invested so much in the Capitalism dream during the dictatorship, that now the confrontation with the real is totally overwhelming. The delusion is too big. No more revolutionary energy. It was consumed, discharged in 89. Now it is apathy and depression.

But there are good sides too. From many points of view seems to be more potential, the capital is not so well organized, there are gaps, the reality and capitalism not totally coincide like in the west. And there is a special understanding in some people, because a change in political systems and official discourses like we had after the revolution can create awareness and a distance from any political system - skepticism towards the power and its solutions in general.

Some months ago we heard voices of a student's movement in Bucharest. How did it evolve? What is the condition of school, and of the university in your country? What the effects of neoliberal politics on the educational system? Do you see any sign of student's consciousness and self-organization?

What you heard was the protests of workers and pensioners, when the government cut 25% of salaries of state workers and 15% from pensions. Is an atypical situation, the most revolutionary generation here are the pensioners, they continued the protests for many days. From this point of view the students appear more conventional and conservative than police - while everywhere in Europe students were beaten by police, here one of the most radical action it was the police protest and strike.

The leaders of the student unions are part of a very corrupt system, similar to the leaders of working syndicates, they are in close dubious relations with the political parties and usually they enter in one of the parties structures after they finish school.

There is no sign of political consciousness and self-organization... It seems that the school works perfectly in creating conventional thinking and obedience. The recent neoliberal policies will complete what is already a disaster. A school in which study and education is not possible, only a dressage for interiorizing the authority and a preparation for exploitation.

How can artistic action interfere with the social process? How can an artist or a poet produce changing effects on the social sphere?

After the capitalism expansion reached all the populations, all the resources and the limits of the earth, now the fight is for the most intimate human "resources", capacities, sensibility - we can say that the ultimate battle is in the art domain. So I don't see so much art as a weapon for fighting Capitalism but more as a battlefield. A battlefield that unfortunately is alredy almost entirely occupied by the enemy, the economic logics. The power domesticated and almost entirely integrated the art and the artist.

In Romania during the Communism period functioned what they called "the resistance through culture". In the sense that some artists, writers, didn't compromised to praise the dictator, but at the same time they didn't take any risk, they went with the regime doing their art and now they pretend that they were dissidents. They are very badly judged. They are called 'collaborators'.

But now is it not the artists that legitimize Capitalism? The artist is in a chain of economic-political power relations. He's the subject of a pressure from above - curators, programmers, which are the subject of a pressure from politicians or banks/corporations (a soft invisible pressure via access to funds). From this point of view the artist is a link between officials and subjectivities and their knowledge and sensibility is preferable to work for power than against.

If we really want to do something, it would be a bit less comfortable, less safe - we have to assume the risks of loosing the artistic privileges and to be exiled from the official art, from the court of the Capital. If we want to produce change in the social sphere first of all we have to go out or against the institutionalized art bubble. To interrupt the flow of spectacle, the institutional chain of passing the cultural agenda. To not listen and even to sabotage the administrative protocols in art - from artists to become cultural terrorists.

"Terrorist" is a label that points towards any enemy, potential danger to the establishment. The terrorist and the little brothers, pirate and hacker are the only ones that are not assimilated and integrated in our society. Maybe now, in the crisis is an opportunity for us to go out from the assigned art bubbles and to use our time, skills and knowledge to intervene on the biggest stages (mass media, politics). Maybe is time for art to go where things happen.

Another possible alternative is for us to become saints, prophets, mystics. What I want to say with this is to radically work and experiment with subjectivity. Not just to play safe in representation with creativity and fantasy but to experiment with essential human behaviours, values, perceptions, attitudes, states of mind, sensibility - so radical that it become religious. If we really want something to change I think we have to go a bit beyond our comfort and to alter the core of our identities. If we are Capitalism, the exploitation, the extinction of species, the climate changes, at least some parts of us have to transform radically or even die. In this sense, maybe we have to embrace a bit of (artistic) apocalypse.

Postspectacle Practice

Postspectacle practice is an ongoing questioning process that deals with performance and its political connotations. It addresses the changes that are taking place within representational arts in particular and in cultural practices in general. In a time dominated by spectacle, performing arts have to reconsider their role - and their power - in society at large. In this world of generalized spectacle, what’s the point to add another spectacle in the theatre?

Postspectacle Practice extends in 2 different directions:

1.In the theater we propose alternatives to spectacle.
- bringing in the theatre the "outside spectacle". The idea is to produce friction between contexts/conventions/languages like we did with the military performance (a military drill on the dance floor).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dICPoZGObQ
- opposing spectacle - if entertainment dominates the mass media and politics maybe we should bring in the theater serious stuff like political theory, critique and cultural deconstruction.
- hacking the big festivals and big art events, as we did with The Romanian Dance History, trying to reveal the logic operating within art institutions and the way values are confirmed and affirmed, as well as the artists value and prestige.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AupKHQL-UgM

2. Performing on the big stages
The second direction is to use our performing skills and knowledge on the big stages of politics and mass media, as we did in the TV performance 2012 - ‘Ultima Apocalipsă’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6qxqKXoi6Y
Moreover we decided as the third part of the postspectacle trilogy to run for president in Romania. We have, since 2009, already made a few interventions and campaign events. The elections are in 2014 but we need that time to organize, explore political practices and make it into the official realm of power as politics as a legitimate candidate. For the postspectacle practice the most important goal is to gain access to these areas and set up actions which deconstructs rituals and create awareness of these charged contexts and also (with the presidential candidacy) to affirm new subjectivity paths and reaffirm politics as an open field of negotiation.

Postspectacle wants to release the accumulated spectacle. The spectacle locked the creativity, performativity in a far away, safe, distant, inoffensive bubble. Spectacle is a commodity that you can consume, or it can consume you, in theaters, on screens, in politics, etc. Postspectacle is when the bubble is breaking and the reality comes in your face.