#9: What do we have in common?
Jean Fisher and Dmitri Vilensky /// A dialogue on collective agency, how to invent new social spaces and a radical public
DV: In your article Art and the Ethics of In(ter)vention , you speak of the need for new configurations of collective action against what is perceived as accelerating alienation, not just of labor but of the spirit. Of course, for us as a group this is very important. We come together to reclaim collective agency. It would be good if we could talk a little in this direction. How do you see the relation of this agency to the dominant power? How can they dissolve its dominance? Which means of production do they have in their hands?
Artem Magun /// Res omnium - Res nullus / Common thing - Nobody's thing
What do we have in common? What does the common mean? How can we invoke this common, realizing it and by doing so, maintaining its existence? Contemporary global capitalism realizes total communization, the exchange of people and things, but this communization takes the form of a rupture of all social connections. In departing from its initial revolutionary impulses, Soviet "communism" created an alienated, unjust system as a consequence. By the 1970s, this system brought on the atomization of society and the victory of an ideology of individualism and consumerism, comparable to the situation in bourgeois societies. But the Soviet experience also had another side: the "common" or the "collective" really was not appropriated fully; in the bureaucratic system of collective irresponsibility, it often turned out to be unneeded, belonging to no-one.
Jean Luc Nancy - Artem Magun - Oxana Timofeeva /// The Question of the Common and the Responsibility of the Universal
Artem Magun: Dear Jean-Luc! In how far the community changed, in your view, since 1986 ? Among other things, we might speak of the world's repolarization and repoliticization. In this landscape, there emerges not only the question of solidarity and being-in-common, but also the question of collective action, of action that would be both constitutive of the community and effectively realizing it. Can we imagine action, common praxis, that would not be "work" (in Arendt's sense), production, oeuvre?
Glucklya and Tsaplya with Alexander Skidan and Dmitri Vilensky /// A Certain Number of Figures
To sacrifice oneself, to expose the king, and to come out in psychological attack this is the mind-bending madness of Talev's style. It's only a shame that there are so few figures in chess. Laughably few.
Sergei Spirikhin, "Possibly, Beckett"
Alexander Skidan (AS): I would like to start with a simple but cardinal question. What exactly is the Factory of Found Clothes (abbreviated to FNO in Russian)? Is it a fellowship? A collective? A community? Or is it something more? How do you think of yourselves?
Viktor Misiano - Anatoly Osmolovsky - David Riff /// Which ethical horizon are we in need of?
David Riff (DR): In a recent text, the Moscow critic and curator Ekaterina Degot argues that while "the capitalist system of art institutions is oriented toward the [singular] product, [ ] the communist system of art institutions was oriented toward [collective] creativity. This is why the communist system did not consist of galleries and collections, but of communities and groups, ranging from the artist's union to the narrow "circles" of nonconformist art. All of these groups were organized according to the principle of the autodidactic circle." Do you think it makes sense to talk about continuities of a "communist model" of art, and which vector of development do you see in this model? What happened from the late 1980s and 1990s, when there was an explosion of community-based art? And where is this experience heading today?
Dmitri Gutov - David Riff /// Complete agreement is the ideal of the human race
David Riff (DR): How did the Lifshitz (1) Institute form? Was it your own initiative? Or did the group come together collectively? Could you tell me a little about how you came together?
Dmitri Gutov (DG): The "Lifshitz" Institute was conceived as a social movement that concerned the discovery of a new phenomenon, namely Soviet Marxism, primarily of the 1930s. A small number of people discovered that there was, in fact, such a phenomenon, a phenomenon that was completely original, substantial, completely incomprehensible and forgotten. Our idea was to re-read old Marxist texts with new eyes, as the final chord of the Communist drama was fading.
Oleg Aronson - Oxana Timofeeva - Alexei Penzin /// As subjects, we always come in last
Alexei Penzin (AP): The word "community" first somehow became significant in the context of the post-Soviet period, when old notions or words like the "collective" were rejected and the necessity arose to define the new forms of social relation that were arising. But then again, there is a great deal of nostalgia for the collectivity of the past, even if this nostalgia cannot yet give itself a name. At present, the state is actively trying to develop and utilize it, pontificating on "uniting against the threat of terrorism", for an example. Recently, the public sphere that was opened up in the 1990s has been re-appropriated by the state. As a consequence, much of the critical-intellectual milieu finds itself artificially ghettoized into small communities. But at the same time, there is a demand raised both by a broader public space as well as the state, and this demand is connected to a wholly uncritical nostalgia toward collectivity.
Alexei Penzin /// From Commonplaces to Community
Why should we speak of "the community"? In its everyday usage, this word simultaneously carries a note of nostalgia and the aftertaste of an almost inadmissible pathos.
Radek Community /// In Search of Our Dream (not finished yet)
By now, we can already say that the Radek Community is our attempt at answering the question of what the community is and how we can be together in the contemporary world. Throughout our entire history, we were always burdened by one and same pressing question: are we really realizing the potential that collectives seem to entail? Are our efforts really all that different from ordinary individual attempts to interact with this world? I am absolutely convinced that this question is inevitable for any community. Once it has asserted its identity in some way, once it has presented the world with evidence of its existence as an independent space for communication, no community ever finds itself at that euphoric point of complete clarity again.