The Alternative Has Become Performance
An Essay in 5 Acts
Sebastián López Cardozo
Alternative has a meaning, a position in a hierarchy. Alternative is not alternative in the sense that one wishes it to be when one wishes for the alternative. Alternative becomes, as soon as one tends toward it to the point of fulfillment. Alternative is at the end of becoming. Alternative is equal to a bee, or to a pink wetsuit. Alternative is. Alternative strives for alternativity. Alternative is alternative, whether it is funded by an external party or it’s independently propelled by one’s own unfettered will. Alternative is alternative, whether it’s censored or it is allowed to roam free. Alternative has precedents and will become a future precedent. Alternative is not born with the artist. Alternative precedes and follows the act of the artist. Alternative fucks the artist. Alternative is fucked by the artist. Alternative is nourished by the same milk that nourishes the artist. Alternative is Freud’s mommy-daddy-me. Alternative is decalcomania. Alternative thinks it creates new meaning, yet it merely reproduces itself. Alternative is the artist’s objective. Alternative is caprice. Alternative is performance. Alternative is not the rhizome. Alternative thinks it’s the rhizome yet is part of the tree. Alternative rejects movement. Alternative wishes for stability of the alternative. Alternative wishes for the alternative to remain alternative. Alternative is elitist. Alternative disdains deserters. Alternative desires reputation but only in a particular manner as long as it does not move toward the mainstream unless its move to mainstream is with a consciousness and an intention to purposely enter the mainstream with an alternative agenda. Alternative desires reputation not in the manner of Octavia St. Laurent. Alternative desires a reputation of non-reputation, a reputation of un-, a reputation of the known unknown, a reputation of newness even as it in itself is older than the ancient skies of Greece. Alternative is ideology. Alternative is Platonic. Alternative has devout disciples. Alternative is a cult. Alternative does not mean freedom. Alternative is authoritarian. Alternative makes you their bitch.
Infertile, desensitized, ideology, Platonism, idolatry, performance, theatricality, pseudo, pretense, caprice, cover-up, authoritarianism, elitism, acceptance, assimilation, subservience, cult, religion, ineffective, arborescence, post-political, post ideology, post-impresionism, post-post-impresionism, post-modern.
Thomas moved to the village of Alternatopia that year, for she was driven by what she had seen for many a night. As she learned over endless moons, there was more behind the continuous set of neogothic façades, yet at the same time, what was inside seeped into the outside world in the form of canvases, videotapes, you name it. Inside these shells, is a constant engine, stimulating and massaging the artist’s subject matter. Inside these shells, is a constant performance, so convincing that it convinces the artist of his own act. A whole mounted opera, where every participant is complicit. Yet, Thomas believes. Thomas believes devoutly. She does not need to see nor touch in order to believe. Or at least, it does not need to be known that she sees or touches. Not only does she see and touch the entrails of the alternative orchestra, she also engages with it in a multi-sensorial Bernini-Baroque orgy. She is a convert. With great poise she strolls around the cloister, her arms forming a cross at her lower back, her fingers stroking the hairs of her cilice. Asceticism is imparted and reinforced by the cilice, which acts not only upon her mind, but also serves to externally reveal her condition of self-imposed struggle. The struggling artist is made. Van Gogh is the founding father, born as such, the single original carrot, who could never be replicated in essence. The post-post-impressionist artist replicates, performs, he is prisoner to his own construction, to his own worship of the primordial Alternative.
THE VICTORS HAVE PAINTED OVER OUR BRUSHES, OUR CAMERAS, OUR PENCILS AND KEYBOARDS, OUR CHISELS, OUR STRINGS.
Well, yes, like, there is a dominant ideology. I think it’s important to produce a counter-culture, an alternative. I think that you can’t just sit back and let the dominant culture dominate without resistance. That would be to accept the post-political post-ideological condition. There needs to be something LIKE A MACHINE that constantly effectuates the politics proper. But at the same time the machine has to reprogram and restructure itself constantly, like D+G’s rhizome.
Friction creates new things, friction fosters creativity. But friction emanating from the same source for too long will just carve its own space into the dominant ideology and its effect will be lessened.
We should no longer allow history to be painted by the victors. But the victors have even painted over our brushes, our cameras, our pencils and keyboards, our chisels, our strings.
Can the rhizome really take down the tree? Should we believe D+G? I mean, if they are correct in saying that, then that means that the Alternative is already part of the tree, because after the Impressionists took down the tree of the Academy, every other change after that has been so minimal, so like I said before, it seems like it has lost friction. So in that sense we are fucked.
The alternative doesn’t work, it has become this predetermined thing, an elitist congregation with strict rules of admittance, with heavily theatrical connotations. The artists seem to be more interested in the nostalgic reproduction of a consciousness of resistance which doesn’t have an effect at the essential level.
On Artistic Freedom:
What does alternative mean? Does funding de-legitimize or erode the alternative? Does funding affect the material that is produced through the looming threat of censorship? One could argue that those who do not depend on funding also lack the freedom that they strive for. To utilize language as an analogy, one could think of the language as limiting one’s expression. In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for example, language is minimized and modified in order to remove the tools with which to communicate certain thoughts – specifically ones which may be against the dominant ideology. This article will explore the implications of censorship beyond the issues of funding.