Volume 3. No. 2. Summer 2010
ISSN 1752-6388

The Infinite Demand of Art

Simon Critchley

The Infinite Demand of Art

I’ve been getting increasingly interested in collaborations with artists for a number of years now and what really interests me is the growing interest in collaborative practices in relation to contemporary art and politics. If I get the time, I’d also like to talk about some of the collaborative experiments I’ve been involved with, like the International Necronautical Society (INS), which is about 10 years old, which functions as a sort of headless collective, not in any sort of hippy way, but in a deeply reactionary and offensive way.1 The INS has mimicked the rather authoritarian collectivity of the Futurists as its model, the first Futurist Manifesto from exactly a century ago is brilliant. We use a committee structure to make declarations, issue denunciations and work on a number of platforms simultaneously. Anyhow, I can tell you more if you like.

Another collaborative project I’m involved in is with the Paris-based artist, Philippe Parreno. Philippe and I are working on something together, although it’s not clear exactly what. Maybe a book. We both like books. We began a formal conversation at the Kunsthalle in Zurich last November and will continue it somewhere else in June. Anyway, I’d like to use Parreno’s work as a hook for thinking about the question of the infinite demand of art, firstly because it’s brilliant, but also because he has used the practice of collaboration extensively and, indeed, only really ‘come out’ as a solo artist in the last few years.

I have at 9 titles for this talk. Please pick whichever one you like:

  1. No amount of effort can save you from oblivion

  2. Sensate ecstasy

  3. Things which do not exist yet

  4. No ghost just a shell

  5. Philosofugal versus artopetal – artopetal wins

  6. She left because she understood the value of defiance

  7. The survival of fireflies

  8. Perhaps it would be better if we worked in groups of three

  9. She died of darkness, Mother Pegg, but the void is not your enemy

  10. Does anyone here know Kenny Dalglish?



Still from The Boy From Mars, 2003. Courtesy of Philippe Pareno.

However, I want to begin with some more methodological remarks about how I see the relation between art and theory at the present moment and the way out of a dilemma that might allow us to work in another way, collectively we might say.

Let me begin this way: I think a certain top-down model or ‘theory as legitimation of the artist’ model of the relation between theory and practice has grown old and I think that’s a good thing. Without wanting to insult anyone in particular, but wanting to give a practical example, I saw this in action in places like Goldsmiths College in London in the 1990s, where students on the famous BFA and MFA Program, with more celebrated artists that it is decent to list in mixed company, were cowed into submission and driven in some cases to distraction and quasi-nervous breakdowns where they lost all confidence in their artistic practice through a certain - what I would call - ‘terroristic’ model of theory. They were simply made to feel stupid by their inability to master ‘Theory’, capital T, by which was meant a stack of texts, usually translated from French, with authors often beginning with D, sometimes with F or B, and they were usually terrified of writing the papers they were meant to write because they had little experience doing it. The worst of it, to my mind, and I don’t want to sound arrogant, was that the people who were teaching them theory weren’t that good. People like me used to go in to Goldsmiths or wherever and be expected to explain Lacan or Deleuze at a pretty high level to teachers that really didn’t have much of a clue and in front of students who were simply nonplussed and intimidated by the whole thing. I didn’t enjoy the experience much and neither did they. It seemed pretty pointless at the time and still does.

What was good, however, was that I often got past the ‘bodies without organs’ or ‘traumatic kernal of the real’ blah blah to work with artists in studio visits. I really liked this and still do a little of it when I can at Columbia. We would sit down with cups of tea in an artist’s studio for three hours, usually somewhere cold in South London, and they would want me to tell them about theory. Of course, I would quietly refuse to do that and then try and turn the conversation around to their work and get them to talk in an honest way about their practice and then we’d begin to draw out the theoretical consequences, if there were any.

I’ve always been interested in people that do something that I don’t do and that I can’t do. I’m interested in heart surgeons, cartographers and tap dancers, but I am also interested in artists, particularly in those who are anxious about the word ‘artist’. The issue here is with different modes of articulation, or different modes of thinking. My conviction is that art thinks, just as film thinks and music thinks. Philosophy as a largely conceptual enterprise or meta-practise is thinking about thinking. The question is trying to find a way (not a method, but a way, there is certainly no such thing as a method) of approaching how and what art thinks in its own medium in a way that doesn’t drown art in theory.

Let me expand this point a little. To try and understand or read whatever it is that we call art from the standpoint of some theory is invariably to miss the phenomenon. It is to reduce a visual, spatial (as visual art - the title of this festival3 - is a sort of anachronism) or medial language to a theoretical metalanguage. It is usually to engage in some sort of cod-philosophy with a lot of useless jargon that is meant to intimidate the uninitiated (and many theoretical discussions of art are simply sadistically intended to do exactly that: to intimidate, to befuddle, to cow, to obscure). To put this in Stevensian terms, this is to reduce art to ideas about the thing, but not the thing itself. What interests me, what always interests me, is the thing itself in its truth (I mean truth as creation, as innovation, not logical or empirical truth – this is truth as troth, as a kind of fidelity) and how, say, the specificity of a thing – an installation, a performance, or whatever – might be approached in its own terms and not translated into the blah blah blah of some theory. By the truth of an artistic thing, I do not obviously mean propositional or empirical truth, but truth as creation, the creation of a singularity whose reach, appeal or revealing power extends beyond itself. This is what I will call in a while ‘anarchic creation’.

If a work of art is the illustration of a theory, or the example of a theory then it is either bad art or, more usually, bad theory. We could get into the whole question of exemplarity in art’s relation to theory if we liked, which has haunted philosophy from Hegel’s obsession with Sophocles to Merleau-Ponty’s obsession with Cezanne and Badiou’s obsession with Beckett and so on. Philosophers love their examples. I love my examples too, note how I just slipped in an allusion to Wallace Stevens, but it is important to see how limited and limiting they can be. To see an artistic thing as the illustration of a theory is to engage in what we might call ‘philosofugal’ uses of theory, where theory spins out from itself to try and cover the artwork. What we should be attempting, I think, is an ‘artopetal’ approach where theory is drawn into the orbit of the thing and whatever theoretical reflections are pulled back to the artwork’s centre of gravity. So, in place of a top-down philosofugal model of the relation of art to theory, I’d like to suggest a artopetal model where theory finds some affluence, some contact with the thing and thing finds some contact with the theory which is being used to elucidate it.

Broadly, I see the relation between art and theory as dialectical: art needs a theory that needs art. I don’t see art as standing alone or as being for its own sake. Oh, I guess, we also have the model of the ‘theory is bullshit’ artist, who works by sheer intuition or heroic-macho-ladish intoxication, the idiot savant, the unknowing genius or whatever. But I don’t want to go there. It’s too dumb. The act of elucidation, of reflection, of conceptualization, is essential. All art is conceptual, we might say. But art is not simply conceptual and the concept should not exhaust the percept, we might say. It shows the concept’s need for a moment of sensuality or, better, spatiality, which stands apart from the concept. Art needs a theory that needs art. It’s a two way street with all the traffic in the middle.

Maybe artists are less entranced with theory or with a certain kind of top-down theory than they were a generation ago, you know in the distant days when no exhibition catalogue was complete without a quotation from Derrida. But, of course, we should never underestimate the vanity of artists or their desperate need for legitimation from philosophers and theorists. But, of course, I am vain too and also a prostitute and will happily legitimate artists in exchange for the appropriate amount of flattery, money or both. The less said about that the better. After all, I’m here aren’t I?

But let me look at things from another perspective. From this perspective, we might say that art and theory have not become divorced. We might even say that in some cases they have merged, or perhaps both become attached to a third term, perhaps art and theory have adopted a form of triolism, a ménage a trois, as we say in Brooklyn, where art and theory might be said to get together collectively around a third term. We have to learn to count to three, then. Maybe even four and five.

An obvious third term here, that I’d like to discuss, is politics, not in the sense of governmental politics, but in the sense of the political (I learnt from Christopher Fynsk’s work on this in the past), where so much art is concerned with the problem of community, of being-in-common and in particular with certain utopian experiments in community that belong to the memory and in some cases the present of radical politics. It is extremely interesting to note the way in which a concern with experiments in community lives on in the institutionally sanctioned spaces of the contemporary art world, where forms of what Hans-Ulrich Obrist calls ‘collaborational promiscuity’ are responses to the question: how to give a community of artists a social structure?4 and by implication: how to give any community a social structure?

One thinks of projects like L’Association des Temps Libérés (1995), or Utopia Station (2003) and many other examples that were assembled in Nancy Spector’s show at the Guggenheim in New York, Theanyspacewhatever in Fall ’08, or again in an interesting recent show curated at the Power Plant in Toronto by Nina Moentmann called If we can’t get it together (a book calledNew Communities has just come out, which features a number of interesting texts by Nina, by Emily Roysdon on collective production and the idea of ecstatic resistance, and an absolutely decisive text by Maria Lind called ‘Complication: on collaboration, agency and contemporary art’, which gives the best overview of the history and actuality of collaborative practices in contemporary art – Maria is a force).

In the work of artists like Philippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe and Liam Gillick or curators like Hans-Ulrich Obrist or Maria Lind, there is a deeply-felt quasi-Situationist nostalgia for ideas of collectivity, action, self-management, collaboration and indeed the idea of the group as such. In such art practice, which Nicolas Bourriaud has successfully branded as ‘relational’, art is the acting out of a situation in order to see if, in Obrist’s words, ‘something like a collective intelligence might exist’. As Gillick notes somewhere, ‘Maybe it would be better if we worked in groups of three’. That’s my point. Maybe we can get over the art/theory dichotomy in relation to a third term, like the political. Actually, I am collaborating with Liam on a project related to football, soccer, actually the world cup, specifically Millwall FC football chants, but that’s another topic.

Of course, the problem with such experiments in collectivity is twofold and perhaps obvious: on the one hand, they are only enabled and legitimated through the cultural institutions of the art world and thus utterly enmeshed in the circuits of commodification and spectacle that they seek to subvert; and, on the other hand, the dominant mode for approaching an experience of the communal is through the strategy of reenactment. One doesn’t engage in a bank heist, one reenacts Patty Hearst’s adventures with the Symbionese Liberation Army in a warehouse in Brooklyn, or whatever. Situationist détournementis replayed as obsessively planned reenactment. Fascinating as I find such experiments and the work of the artists involved, one suspects what we might call a ‘mannerist Situationism’, where the old problem of recuperation does not even apply because such art is completely co-opted by the socio-economic system which provides its life-blood.

I like the phrase, ‘mannerist situationism’, you know mannerist in the way Caravaggio stands to Raphael, exaggerated and bloody, but ultimately decadent, compromised and slightly nihilistic; but in many ways, much more attractive.

Despite these slightly obvious criticisms, I think there is something to the idea of the relationship between art and theory becoming orientated around a third term. Despite the whole business of art fairs, and I’ve been to too many of them of late because, as I said, I’m a cheap intellectual whore, despite that and despite the art market and the commodification of art, I think that the artworld has become a key space in culture for the thinking through of the nature, the possibility, the limitations and, most importantly, the memory of resistance. I don’t know if you know this, but Lyotard, who famously curated a huge exhibit at the Pompidou called ‘Les Immateriaux’, from 1985, was planning a second show called ‘Résistance’. Philippe has the idea to try and find his notes and do a posthumous show. It’s a great idea. Someone should do it.

So, in my humble view, the hugely compromised space of the artworld, at least in certain localities, is much more interesting than what is taking place in universities, maybe because it is so compromised. What I’ve always liked about the artworld is the nakedness of its mediation by capital. Yet, because of this nakedness, perhaps there is always the possibility for the aesthetic articulation of some outside of the logic of capital, close to Hakim Bey’s delightful idea of the TAZ, a domain of what Liam calls, and it’s an interesting word, semi-autonomy, listen to that: semi-autonomy. Maybe we could come back to that. This outside is always mediated by an inside, compromised by it, recuperated by it, but resistance should always persist with its logic, and persist with its ever-compromised creation of enclaves, of pirate utopias, or whatever. The artist is a pirate, both at a willed distance from the law and wholly parasitic and dependent on it. A doomed character, no doubt.

Still from The Boy From Mars, 2003. Courtesy of Philippe Pareno.

Of course, to stay with the idea of reenactment, maybe the meta-thought here is that it is not an objection at all. What was the Renaissance but a reenactment? They found all this wonderful Greek and Roman stuff and said, come on let’s do it again, it looks great. Look at those domes, terrific! Plato’s dialogues, awesome!

Or again, the history of the left is a history of reenactment, think of the way in which the history of 20th century radicalism from Lenin to anarchism to Maoism to 1968 to contemporary insurrectionism like the Invisible Committee turns on the status of their relation to the Paris Commune and the question to which radical memory can claim the truth of the commune. Maybe new wine is always poured into old wineskins.

Staying with the idea of the third term, maybe there are other third terms. Another example is the concept of work. Let me talk about another collaboration I’ve been involved with. Maria Lind and I organized a series of seminars in New York this winter around the concept of work. The last one, with Carles Guerra from Barcelona and Michael Hardt, was four weeks ago. We took as our starting point in the observation that today the artist—defined by creativity, unconventionality, and flexibility—appears to be the role model for contemporary workers. Always creative, full of unconventionality and flexibility, the bohemians in general and the artists in particular are the perfect entrepreneurs. The questions we asked in each event, each of which included an artist and a theorist, were: how did this strange situation arise, where the artist becomes a career model, an aspirational figure in a fairly conventional sense, namely that they appear to be rich, don’t work hard and get to have lots of fun. We asked, more generally: what is the good of work? How and why did the future change from the sixties and seventies vision of a leisure society, that was sold to people like me (I was told at school that I would live to 120 years old and spend my life lounging around in brightly colored polyester clothing), to an exhausting life of increasingly purposeless work?

Furthermore, why is work valorized in contemporary society? What happened to the critique of labor and its radical potential from the Middle Ages (Franiscans, mendicants, mystical anarchists, Free Spirits) up through the strategies of the Situationists, the autonomists and others? As unemployment becomes an increasing reality, how might we think of unemployment as an artistic and philosophical category? This is a good example of how to organize a fruitful exchange between art and philosophy around a third term.

There is also no doubt that questions of didacticism, pedagogy and education are strong candidates for such third terms and if Maria and I get the funding again (which seems unlikely) we will devote a series of events to the concept of education. There has been an explosion of interest in questions of pedagogy in relation to artwork, kicking off from Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster. There was a great show on this in the Cabinet space in Brooklyn in January around New Zealand artist Darcy Lange’s movies that he made in schools in England in the 1970s, innocently called Work Studies in Schools.

For me the question of the relation between Art, capital A, and Theory, capital T or Philosophy capital P, misses the point entirely. These terms are just too big and clunky for me in relation to the work I try and do, in relation to the way I try to look, to think and to write. Let me explain how it usually works. For whatever reason, usually by chance, as I am not such a big gallery rat, I develop a liking for someone’s work. Sometimes I don’t know them, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I get to know them quite well and we begin to work together. This is what I’ve been doing a little lately with Philippe Parreno. When I talk to him or look at what he does, it is clear that it is not what I do, that is, his mode of articulation is very different, but our concerns are tightly related and we’re reading the same books and looking at the same things. When I was writing recently on his films, I wasn’t trying to impose a theory on them. I was trying to listen, to attend to something that I thought was going on there and then begin to articulate it in my way. We are dealing with different modes of articulation for the same matter, the same matter.

If it seems appropriate at any point, maybe elucidate this schema:


I don’t know how much time I have, but I’d like to talk about 7 themes that spin out of PP’s work. We can finish whenever you like, just start shouting and I’ll stop.

  1. Anarchic creation

  2. No ghost just a shell

  3. Fireflies

  4. The natural and the artificial

  5. Poetic construction

  6. Football

  7. Heroism, melancholy, humour

  8. Things which do not exist yet


Anarchic creation

There is a strange process of creation in Philippe Parreno’s films. Things are not created. Rather, a frame is established which allows something to happen. What interests me is the attention to things in their mineral quality, in their sheer materiality. By focusing intensely on a particular, by following the course of that particular in its randomness with an intense, Cyclops-like, cinematic eye, something necessary comes to pass. There is a happening where the order of intentionality flips around and things are somehow thinging irrespective of our will. In the scenario from The Boy From Mars (2003), my favorite piece by Philippe, he calls it—with a strong whiff of spontaneist anarchism—“magic, in a process of non-authoritarian creation.”

He deliberately points the camera towards things. But the camera is not the subject that inspects objects. On the contrary, it becomes the subject of the object’s gaze. Things turn to look at us. In films like The Boy From Mars, whose seemingly random beauty recalls the series of oblique images that end Antonioni’s L’Eclisse (both eclipse and ellipsis – absence, a failed transcendence), there is a concern with nature in its sheer massive physicality in a way that rubs against the grain of the utter artificiality of the situation, of the fact of art. The Boy From Mars is an ode to light, the poetry of cataract-infected water buffalo and extra-terrestrial visitation.

Parreno’s films are about the happening of an atmosphere, a space of breath where some kind of stillness is possible in the turning world. A calm, an ataraxia of sorts is being cultivated here. This is nothing mystical or quasi-Buddhist, it is more Epicurean, it is simply the attempt to track material particulars in their course, to return authority from the author to the contingent massiveness of nature. Anarchic creation. It is a question of another order of time.

Anarchic creation is the attempt to track material particulars in their course, like moths, like fireflies, actually they are balloons with candles inside, and to return authority from the author, the artist as author, to things in the happening of their truth.

This is what Herzog calls ‘ecstatic truth’, as distinct from the truth of facts in so-called cinema verite.

Ecstatic truth is the unwilled surging up of a happening, it is a different order of duration: episodic, random, flickering.

It is the experience of grace.

Grace is what Zidane has, both in willed movement and bringing about something unwilled.

Anarchic creation is the attempt to invert the order of intentionality and to arrest or at least slow down the passage of time. There is a slowness here, an attempt to track things slowly, to reflect, to think at a certain slowness. The pacing and the shifts in temporality are what is essential.

Sensate ecstasy.


No ghost just a shell

This project was conceived by Parreno and Pierre Huyghe and exhibited in different, indeed mutating, forms between 2000 and 2003. The ‘shell’ is a manga character that Parreno and Huyghe bought for 46,000 Yen after picking her from a catalogue in Tokyo. She’s called Ann Lee. Different artists, as well as writers, musicians and even an immunology researcher, were invited to occupy the shell and, well do what they liked. The results were assembled into different exhibitions and a beautifully produced book. Huyghe describes her as a ‘deviant sign…around which a community has established itself’. A figure who is not only wholly fictitious, but, as she says, ‘I am a product’. But the product is freed the circuit of commodities she was meant to feed, ‘drop dead in a comic book’ and freed from one market into another market, an art market. No ghost just a shell is fascinating because it is a project, as Maria Lind says, ‘clearly inscribed in the logic of the art market but frustrates it at the same time’. Semi-autonomy again. Ann Lee was officially declared dead in 2003 and PP and PH established the Ann Lee Foundation in her name for the price of one Euro. Obrist argues that No ghost just a shell occasioned a shift in the very paradigm of the exhibition as a ‘dynamic system’, like a life form or maybe a laboratory full of life forms where artists are post-Fordist workers functioning collectively. It allows for a polyphony of collaboration, a collective form of production.

Still from Anywhere Out of The World, 2000. Courtesy of Air de Paris.

Ann Lee is not only a Manga character. She is a homonym for the enthused young woman, known as Mother Anne (1736-84), from Manchester who brought a select band of persecuted Shakers (more properly, The Church of Believers in Christ) from England to New York 1774 before setting up communities in upper state New York and Western Massachusetts. Various divine visitations led her to declare celibacy and the imminent second coming of Christ. She was seen by some as the female equivalent of God, the female complement to the divine male principle. But that, as they say, is another story. As is the story of Ang Lee.



So, the question of politics becomes the question of survival of fireflies, which begin to disappear from Europe in the 1950s. For fireflies disappear along with collective ideologies. They disappear along with pollution and the collapse of the political imagination. Fireflies are tiny markers of resistance, the suicide bombers of the insect world. If Lyotard’s ‘Résistance’ were ever to be brought into being, it would have to involve fireflies. Lots of them. It would be a posthumous show about something that no longer exists or is disappearing. Or about something that does not yet exist.

In his movie, Zidane, Philippe Parreno & Douglas Gordon keep coming back to images of moths, flying transfixed in the stadium floodlight. Indifferent to human display, they seem to support neither Villareal nor Real Madrid. They seek only their destruction in a tiny blaze of heat and light.

Still from Stories are Propaganda, 2005. Courtesy of Philippe Pareno.

InStories are Propaganda from 2005, there is talk of fireflies and a pure white albino rabbit. You go down the rabbit hole, as Freud described his impossible profession, and what do you meet? A rabbit. Who did you expect? God almighty.

There’s also light bulbs. A lot of them, a whole marquee awning of them.

And balloons, sometimes black balloons.


The natural and the artificial

There is a deliberate blurring of the natural and the artificial in Parreno’s work: the artificiality of nature and the naturalization of the artificial.

Parreno’s art is that of the plastic bag on the tree. It appears in Credits from 1999, with brightly colored plastic bags on leafless trees, and again in The Boy from Mars, and probably elsewhere.

Or the figure of the prosthetic, the figure of the marionette in The Writer from 2007, or Zidane as Puppet (perfection either in a being with infinite consciousness or no consciousness - Kleist).

Art as prosthesis, as an artificial limb, the prosthesis is not the extension of the human. The human is the extension of the prosthesis. Lynch’s cinema is full of this.

And, of course, the artist as prosthesis in a series of ventriloquists dummies he made with Rirkrit Tiravanija.


Poetic Construction

Poetry as Dichtung,poieisis as the creation of disclosure, the difficult bringing of things to birth through seemings, through words or images or whatever.

If there is a mystery to things, it is not the mystery of the hidden, it is the mystery of the absolutely obvious, what is under one’s nose. The labour of the poet or artist is the difficult elaboration of the openedness within which we stand.

Poetry is a dream of a thing, el sueno de una cosa, but it is a thing.

I.e. what we see of things are things, ‘That things really are what they seem to be’, as Pessoa writes:

Art, fully defined, is the harmonic expression of our consciousness of sensations, that is to say, our sensations must be so expressed that they create an object which will be a sensation to others. Art is not, as Bacon said, ‘man added to nature’; it is sensation multiplied by consciousness – multiplied, be it well noted.5

If I say that phenomenology is not deep inquiry, then that does not mean that it is superficial. Phenomenology is the refusal of metaphysical or mystical depth and the cultivation of surfaces. It is a matter of opening one’s eyes and seeing the palpably obvious fact of the world that faces one and that one faces. Human life in the world is two surfaces that touch and resonate each with the other. Phenomenology gives lessons in unlearning that allow us to relearn how to see the world. Now, in my fancy at least, I want to imagine poetry as phenomenology, as an art of surfaces or the cultivation of what we might call surfaciality. The problem is that these surfaces only show themselves with great difficulty, they are enigmatic surfaces that come to appearance through the felt variations that flow from the poet’s words. I think this is what Heidegger has in mind in the sentence from Sein und Zeit that I chose as my epigraph. Poetry, in the broad sense of Dichtung or creation is the disclosure of existence, the difficult bringing to appearance of the fact that things exist. By listening to the poet’s words, we are drawn outside and beyond ourselves to a condition of being there with things where they do not stand over against us as objects, but where we stand with those things in an experience of what I like to call, with a nod to Rilke, openedness, a being open to things, an interpretation which is always already an understanding (hence the past tense) in the surfacialspace of disclosure. If this sounds a little mystical, then I’d like to say with Caeiro, está bem, tenho-o’. If there is a mystery to things, then it is not at all other-worldly, or some mysticism of the hidden. On the contrary, the mystery of things is utterly of this world and the labour of the poet consists in the difficult elaboration of the space of existence, the openedness within which we stand.

We see an absence of meaning in all things…

Welcome the void, embrace the void

BECKETT’s revelation after his mother’s death, THE DARKESS, THE VOID IS NOT AN ENEMY.



It’s working-class ballet.

It’s like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, where nothing happens twice usually.

Order of temporality on football (line and ecstasy = grace)

Problem of mediation and immediacy in football, how does one approach the real of football? Only through layers of mediation, commentary, spectatorship.

In an extraordinary interview with Cabinet Magazine, the Italian national goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, and of course ‘buffon’ means buffoon, clown, says a number of amazing things:

‘I like it that the entire record of my life is of it occurring in the air’


Football is about enchantment. For an hour and a half, the world stops because a ball is being chased and a different kind of time unfolds, capturing the concentration of the players and the audience and generating its own story. One player or another is praised or blamed, bets are placed. Afterwards, the world is normal again and the spell evaporates. The game’s interest lies not in the plot but in the shifts, in the changes in the many micro-plots.6

In other words, football is all about increases and decreases of intensity. It’s like Spinoza.


Heroism, melancholy, humour

Zidane as puppet and God (Kleist) a figure for the hero, as a heroism of the void, that is marked by the iconic, Zidane as icon, as commodifed puppet, but also someone wedded to self-ruination. There is something absolutely solitary and fragile about Zidane. He is defined by a sort of melancholy as Jean-Philippe Toussaint argues. He is defined not by the red card of being sent off, but by the black card of melancholy – could go from here into the logic of melancholy.

Melancholy comes up here and there in Parreno’s work.

InNo ghost just a shell, Ann lee is the melancholic character, as Huyghe says.

Humour also comes up a lot. It’s funny. What Philippe Parreno does is funny. This is important.

Humour and melancholy are intimately related.

EXPLAIN LOGIC OF MELANCHOLY: mourning – melancholia – mania.



Things which do not exist yet

This is the whole point – logic of the event – to focus on those things which do not yet exist in order to bring to nothing the things that are.

The question here is simple: how are we to behave?

This is the infinite demand of art – to be in such a condition so that those things which do not yet exist might be brought about. And that the things which are brought about are not finite.

The infinite demand is not a finite demand. It is not a demand that can be met. On the contrary. It is like the work of love in Kierkegaard.

I guess what interests me in Kierkegaard is the emphasis on the rigour of the commandment of love, on the nature of belief/faith, ‘be it done for you, as you believed’, refusal of the certainty and security of faith, faith is something that one must win at each moment, and not in some external way, emphasis on inequality (the speck in the other’s eye, the log in mine), then from 351 it gets really good: you have nothing to do with what others do to you, inwardness, this is reality, 352 infinite love, need for solitude, ‘everything you say and do to other human beings God simply repeats; he repeats it with the intensification of infinity.’ Inwardness again. ‘Here in the noise of life he perhaps does not discern God’s or the eternal’s repetition of the uttered word’.7 Need for resonance and repetition, 353, it is not just a question of sitting in sickness unto death and listening for the repetition of the eternal. No, but we need the rigor of inwardness in relation to love…



3 Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, 16.04.-03.05.2010. http://www.glasgowinternational.org/

4 See Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno (eds), No Ghost Just a Shell (Koln: Walther Konig, 2003), p. 255.

5 Fernando Pessoa, Always Astonished: Selected Prose, translated by Edwin Honig (San Francisco: City Lights Book, 1988), p. 35.

6 ‘Chance, Intelligence, and Humor: An Interview with Gianluigi Buffon’, Cabinet Magazine,Issue 19 Chance Fall 2005.http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/19/deball.php [Accessed 22 July 2010]

7 Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love: Some Christian reflections in the form of Discourses (London: Harper Perennial, 2009), p. 352.





    Maria Thereza Alves

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