Response to Sarah (2016)
Let’s start with one of the examples of a beautiful, critical and powerful work: The work of Jean-Luc Godard. It is indeed a successful work because he succeeded in creating a new form of cinema. His films give a form to the artistic question: How can one do – today, in our time – a work which reaches beyond its time, which resists historical facts? How can a work – beyond cultural, aesthetical, political habits – create a truth? And how can this truth become a universal truth? Jean-Luc Godard answers with the affirmation that art stands for absolute resistance. One can take his work and his position as an example. And I do, therefore when Jean-Luc Godard says: “It’s about making film politically – it’s not about making political films.” it is something essential to me. Therefore I want to replace ‘making film politically’ with ‘making art politically’. In my mind it is crucial to understand the difference between ‘working politically’ on one side, and terms such as ‘political art’, ‘political artist’ or declaring oneself a ‘Political artist’ or ones’ work a ‘Political work ‘on the other side. The trap is to think or declare oneself a leftist, a ‘political artist’, someone who does ‘political work’ because the problem is not about taking over the role and work of politicians and the goal cannot be taking a stand on the ‘good side’. We know there are leftist careerists, leftist opportunists, leftist content-providers . Therefore the real problem is not about content, the real problem is the form. The form must be powerful, critical, untamable, and the form – as such – must resist recuperation and appropriation. If this can be achieved then we can speak about a Form as such. Giving form, giving a leftist form means doing something new, doing something which transgresses, something which creates a breakthrough, something which goes beyond habits. I believe that the problem is to give a Form, a critical Form. A critical form is a form that criticizes, but also that can be criticized, that is not established. Therefore the artist has to pay a price for his form, this is what being leftist means: To pay for the Form! The leftist is the one who is ready to pay – as first – for the Form. To pay means to be criticized, to be excluded, not to be invited. If not, it’s the trap of hiding behind a posture or a postulate – and it is easy then to be recuperated or appropriated. I am convinced that what counts – in the very end – is only ‘Form’, and this Form and the work which leads to this Form must be made politically. This means to work politically and to think politically. In this perspective I want to clarify the term ‘working politically’ – and again – not do ‘political work’. To me – what counts, what makes the difference is to start asking oneself the important questions, the real questions, the big questions: “Why do I think what I think? Why do I do what I do (art)? Why do I use the tool or instrument I use? Why do I give the form I give?
“Why do I think what I think? I think that art is universal. Universality means Equality, Justice, Truth, the Other, the One World. Art – because it’s art – can provoke a dialogue or confrontation directly, from one to one. Therefore I think that each human being can get in touch with art, each human being can be transformed by the power of art. I believe that art is the way to reinvent the world. Art is autonomous. Autonomy is what gives an artwork its beauty and its absoluteness. Art – because it’s art – can create the conditions of an implication, beyond anything. Art is resistance. Art resists facts; Art is positivity, and intensity. Art, because it’s art, calls for equality. This is my conviction and my belief. Yes, I believe in art, I have faith in art and I have faith in my work. Therefore I am ready to fight for it and for its position. Indeed, this is never a fight against something – but always a fight for something, for my work, for my position, for my form. Working politically means – logically – to be a soldier. A soldier with his own mission. A mission such as creating – with the work – a critical corpus and to work for a non-exclusive audience in order’ to establish a new term of art. I think that art is an inclusive movement, art includes the Other, the uninterested one, the un-informed one. Art can reach Truth. Truth is not the verifiable fact or “true information” rather Art affirms Truth. Belief in Truth is something essential. This means to work – and to think – politically.
Why do I do what I do – art? I understand art as a mission, a mission to accomplish – beyond success and beyond failure. To think in terms of “success” or “failure” in art makes no sense, art can be an experience that doesn’t function, that doesn’t work. I learned from doing art that I can’t be the “disappointed” one, and have no right to be, and accepting such an unforceful discourse is obviously and definitely too easy. Doing artwork is not an escape or a dream. Equality is not given – I must fight for it and can’t avoid the battle under the pretext of circumstance or today’s context. In order to stand up against inequality I must allow myself Equality, I must authorize myself to assert being equal. Art enables me to assert and give a form to my own logic in a movement of self-authorization. Therefore to me, doing art is an emancipatory act and as such, a necessity – if I work in this dynamic I am working politically.
Why do I use the tool or the instrument I use? Working – as an artist – means understanding art as a tool, an instrument or a weapon to confront reality. I use the tool “art” to encounter the world I am living in. I use the tool “art” to live within the time I am living. I use the tool “art” because it allows resisting the historical fact. I want to use the tool “art” precisely because it allows me to do an a-historical work within the chaos and complexity of the moment. I want to use art as a tool to establish a contact with the Other – this is a necessity – and I am convinced that the only possible contact with the Other happens “One to One”, as equal. I want to do a work that gives form to the affirmation: The Other is included in “me” and in “I”. To love doing my work is already working politically, because the power comes – and must come – from Love. Art is a tool to keep the concentration focused on what counts to me, on what is essential – this means to work politically.
Why do I give the form I give? The problem is to give ‘Form’, my own form, something only I see and something only I understand, something only I can give. I use the term ‘give form’ because it means giving from my own, giving form is not “doing” or “making” a form. Therefore I invented my own “Form- and Force-field” to include the notions of Love, Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Politics. I always want to embrace these four notions in my work. Form is non-splittable, non-negotiable and even – non-discussable. Form only exists as something entire, undividable and complete, as an atom or a core, as hardcore – Form is hardcore. Form and Aesthetic are interdependent but not to confuse. Form is what gives ethic, dynamic and clarity in the incommensurable, complex, overcomplex and chaotic world we are living in, today. Aesthetic is the answer to the question: What does this Form look like? How is it made? What materials are used? Form never seeks a function, Form is never exclusive and Form can never be qualified with terms such as the “good form”. To give Form is an act of emancipation, it is a resolution and a decision. To give form – not to make form – means to work politically because I have to give.
Thomas Hirschhorn, 2016