Author: Thomas Dreher  
Posted: 21.01.2003; 23:20:14
Topic: Question 6
Msg #: 639 (in response to 428)
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Reads: 84662

Response to John´s answer 6/30:

I hope, your systematization is useful for our readers. You don´t misplace me on the map which you construct.
But I want to discuss a basic premise in the construction of your map: Systematizations of possible or existing relations between art and politics misrepresent the problem that the political (social and economic) context sets preconditions to art. These preconditions undermine dyadic relations between two autopoietic systems (art and politics as separate and autonomous fields).
An example offers the parody site "Dow" of The Yes Men/RTMark within The Thing:
The parody looks like an official website of Dow Chemical. The parody uses the corporate image of Dow Chemicals as a medium to communicate. It tells how the corporation deals with the victims of the Bhopal disaster in India. Union Carbide (now under the umbrella of Dow Chemical) caused the death of 5000 residents in Bhopal in 3rd December 1984, because its "pesticide plant sprung a leak". The consequences of the desaster caused the lives of ca. 15.000 more people within the following years. The parody Dow site lets Dow Spokesman Bob Questra speak about the interests of Dow Chemical and its shareholders. Legal threats of Dow Chemical´s lawyer refered to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which protects the logo and the corporate design. The provider NTT/Verio closed The Thing with all its contents for sixteen hours. The provider dissolved his contract with The Thing. The Thing people have to look for a new provider for all its contents, not only for the Dow parody. In 5th january 2003 The Thing wrote that they have "to find a new provider and relocate all of our services" in "less than fifty days".
Every activism comes too late here, at first hand. But the juridical grounds have to be investigated against repetitions of similar acts of censorship: Can a provider close all pages of a site (of artists and art institutions like P.S. 1) or is he restricted to close the pages with the content in question.
No question of genius is relevant here but every kind of support who helps to act with the consequence that such cases of censorship can´t happen in the future - Wolfgang Staehle, the Thing´s founder: "It is not fair that 300 of our clients will suffer from this and I might be out of business." (NY Times, 23.12.2002)
Mirror sites exist now which present the identical content. This is the usual reaction of activists, and it demonstrates the limits of corporations. The next steps have to be juridical actions.
The Thing is one of the early websites for art. Is it relevant if you can call the parody of The Yes Men political art or not? not for me. Relevant are the legal threats of corporations, their rights via DMCA and the reactions of providers. This package of problems demonstrates the preconditions of (and the net in general) as capitalism wants them to be.
I want to correct your sketch of point 5: The term "identity" is misleading (in my opinion). A basic problem in a given social context (and conflict) is if artists can try to influence social context with so-called artistic strategies or if the chances for changes of basic premises are higher if they integrate themselves into activistic groups and their political strategies. Is it really relevant to be always able to identify strategies as "artistic" and "non-artistic"? If not, then we have an open field of different strategies to change f. e. the preconditions of our communications which constitute certain media systems. How strategies can be bound to an effective political demonstration is the relevant question, meanwhile the problem of a definition of an innovative and/or artistic political concept is an academic question which may be of interest afterwards. Thomas Dreher (


Last update: Monday, March 31, 2003 at 9:53:49 PM.