Saskia Sassen
George Soros
Anita Sieff
Ronald. M. Bosrock
Slavoj Žižek
Umberto Galimberti
Francesco Antinucci
Timothy Druckrey
Marina Gržinić
Rudi Rizman
Carlos Basualdo
John Peter Nilsson
Olu Oguibe
Mika Hannula
Jordan Crandall
Eda Čufer
Aleš Erjavec
Nataša Petrešin
Mark Amerika
  Viktor Misiano

Marina Grzinic


In the context of the relation between globalization, post-socialism, capitalism, activism and the image, I would like to outline some topics that deal with positioning, theory and history, and, in addition, with inconsistency and the impossible. My principal question is what kind of processes we can detect today in these paradigms, and how they serve or conflict with current artistic and cultural processes. My question is also if it is possible to subvert, to turn around and to re-think some old and new relations in theory, art practice and political activism.


Multiculturalism is the cultural logic of global capitalism, as new spiritualism is its ideology; multiculturalism is not about nivelization, but about abstract multiplication. This is why global capitalism needs particular identities. In this triangle of global, multicultural and spiritual issues, the postpolitical must be seen not as the conflict between global and national ideological visions that are represented by competitive parties, but as abstract collaboration. As Jacques Ranciere developed in his theory of the postpolitical, it is about the collaboration of enlightened technocrats (such as economists, lawyers, and public opinion makers) and liberal multiculturalists. This absolutely abstracted version of the functioning of institutions of art is at the same time legitimized by the bondage between nationally enlightened technocrats of postsocialism and international multiculturalists. It is a process carried out by a vast number of international, Trans-border and Trans-national exhibitions: a re-invented historiography that can be described as the international legitimization of the national enlightened technocrats of postsocialism by international multiculturalists. Both are servicing each other and the abstract collaboration. This abstract collaboration shows a radical discord between the effects of resistance and the institutions and mechanisms of power that provoke them, and the complicity of power, private capital and thought with mastery.

The true horror today are not horrifyingly violent projects in the art, as they function, paradoxically, as a protective shield that is fantasized as such, protecting us from the true horror - the horror of the abstract positioning of East and West, North and South, art and economy, state terrorism and activism. The psychotic generating experience in itself is that this abstract collaboration functions as a protective shield (that protects in the end only the obscenely visibly art institutions and the power art structures in themselves) and erases all traces of difference, activism, positioning, etc. The art institution defense against the true threat is actually to stage a bloody, aggressive, destructive threat in order to protect the abstract, sanitized situation. This is the sign demonstrating the absolute inconsistency of the fantasmatic support and not only the inconsistency of reality in itself. Instead of the multiple reality talk, as who else but Slavoj Zizek would say, one should thus insist on a different aspect - on the fact that the fantasmatic support of reality, of the art structures and their mechanisms, is in itself multiple and inconsistent.

One possible way of understanding this new situation is that the effect of de-realization is an effect of juxtaposing reality and its fantasmatic supplement face to face: to parallel one near the other. The idea is to put together the aseptic, quotidian social reality, life itself, and parallel it with its fantasmatic supplement. Several projects can be listed that use in a very specific way this key concept of de-realization and de-psychologization or reality and of art (although we should be aware that abstract positioning insists on the psychological moment and on the psychology of the individual artist).

The net group 0100101110101101.ORG's life _sharing project (commissioned by The Walker Art Center, USA) presents a bizarre shift, a reversal (not from dull, drab life into the ecstasy of Internet art), but a radical detour from thousands of exciting possibilities of web designing to drab existence in itself, to the impotent situation of life, the disgusting impotence of everyday bureaucracy and the exchanging of e-mails. With such a gesture, that allows us to enter totally a private life, 0100101110101101.ORG is creating a hole in the brain of the machine as a kind of alien situation, a de-realization of the system of the computer and of the content of so called everyday life.

A similar strategy was displayed by the Russian Ilya Kabakov, in one of his projects in 2000. He displayed in the exhibition space the reconstruction of the kitchen that was common to the proletariat in the socialist times, when Russia was known as the Soviet Union, and moreover through the window of this reconstructed kitchen, it was possible to watch delirious film sequences from the golden soviet time; films that were produced to give totally splendid communist future visions, with smiling faces, and people eager to work and to combat. It does not matter if real life in itself was an absolute horror vacuum, that the kitchen was shared by multiple families with much less quantities of potatoes for the soup, more important was this fantasmatic supplement of life that was parallel to the inconsistent and miserable reality. And it was precisely this moment that was shared and presented in the exhibition space: Kabakov displayed the simple and poor soviet kitchen with its fantasmatic counterpart, through films and visual ideology.

With such a procedure, that allows us to externalize our innermost fantasies in all their inconsistency, the artistic practice stages a unique possibility to act out the fantasmatic support of our existence. Or another possible example: the project entitled Salon de Fleurus that can be found in the private apartment in New York, open to the public since 1992 (41 Spring Street, New York). The Salon de Fleurus re-constructs one of the most significant collections of modern art from the turn of the previous century, created in 1906-07 by the American author and literary critic Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), with the help of her brother Leo Stein, in their Paris apartment at 27, rue de Fleurus. Again, what we have here is the fantasmatic scenario of the most inner mechanism of the logic of functioning and of the system of modern art.


In cyberspace, as we are warned by Zizek, traumatic scenes, that did not take place in life, but were never ever consciously fantasized, are having even more of an important role, showing clearly that the real is a pure virtual entity, an entity which has no positive ontological consistency. But still this is only one level. Visualization(s) with film and imagining technologies show clearly ideological engendered boundaries, and a safely established oxymoron -- distance-proximity -- relations, in the real world and as well as in its fantasmatic film scenarios. If we remember, the chief military commander Ripley, from the blockbuster film 'Alien', had to use a lot of strength to get rid of the alien creature in the fourth film of the series, which was released in 1997. The creature recognized that Ripley was its biological mother, and this was possible only and solely as Ripley, in comparison to the previous 3 films, was in Alien 4, cloned, i.e., an artificially procreated human entity, and not a true human woman, as she was in all the films before.

This same biological mother had to destroy the Alien with its total dematerialization into the extraterrestrial world. Despite this, the love gesture of the Alien was something both morbid and also extremely romantic and emphatic. We can agree with S. Stensly's thoughts, that in the world of high technology, cloning and bio chips, the fantasmatic, emphatic relation between two monsters (or a cyborg cloned) or a human and a monster, tells us more about social relations, interactions and the politics of love, than any other type of sexual relationship and power restrictions and control between humans, no matter the sexual orientation and preferences in the real world. Ripley, despite being cloned, was still too human, and therefore still too ideologically problematic to fit with a science fiction story. In the industry of the moving image and its ideological support we are still faced with the problem that only a relationship between something, that is semi human and the mucus substance is ALLOWED, and POSSIBLE. Empathy and sexual relationship between a human being and that which applies for the status of a human being is a forbidden territory. This applies to the first film featuring cyber-cloning entitled Bladerunner: the relationship between the exterminator and the film heroine Rachel functions smoothly as they are both replicants, rather then a male who is copulating with a female cloned entity. This is why they are functioning as a perfect realization of the fantasmatic love couple (both being almost identical to human beings, without actually being them).

The logic of the sexual/emphatic relation is as follows: The love and sex relation in the exchange of empathy between the mucus microorganism modeled substance and the human being, in the capitalistic industry of the moving image, that for now were not yet consumed, come always at the point of a strategic distance. I will call this distance the safety distance to keep the hygienic border relationship between us and the formless other conform to the ideology, that we can produce all the other live entities (and this we goes to the capitalistic production machine, as who better can do this), but we - or perhaps it is better to say "THEY" - will not have sex and/or exchange empathy with them. Is it not such a safe distance to be found in reality itself? Is it not similar to the one that is proposed by the conscious first world middle class when relating to the so called third world, and even when relating to the second world, that is situated in the heart of Europe (and known as the Eastern Europe territory)? Through UNICEF and similar organizations, they -- the wealthy enough middle, and the over wealthy upper class -- are sending each months 1US$ for an African kid and in such a manner allow the kids to survive, but it is a question, if the kids, besides surviving, can live as well? The relationship is externally emphatic, if we judge from the letters written full of love and thankful thoughts by the African children. But this relationship is absolutely abstract, does not require any kind of real contact, and it is without any kind of possibility that such a contact will transmit contagious illness or similar. Similar to this is the position of the Alien in Alien 4 when searching for love and tenderness. All stay at a safe distance. The safety distance teaches us, who can be the mothers of the monsters, how the real children should look like and what are the borders of our sexual-paternal-maternal lust.

To return to radical politics means to demand the universal of politics, and not to be squeezed into the narrowly confined politics of constant exaggeration and constantly renewed identities and needs. This is crucial for an understanding of both the changing position of the self and identity. What becomes apparent here is that the relation of the subject, with its body, history, geography, space, etc. in front of the computer console takes on a kind of paradoxical communication which is not direct, but a communication with the excrescence behind it, mediated by the third gaze: that of the computer machine. What is at stake here is the temporal loss of the subject's symbolic identity: the subject is forced to perceive that he/she/it is not what he/she/it thought they were. This somebody-something else that can be perceived as body, monster, excrement, geographical and organizational politics may also be attached to the rhetoric and logistic of space. We can be taken else-where and no-where.

I can propose a further theoretical-political positioning. The idea of this positioning or of taking a (conceptual) specific ground is to philosophically denote and to articulate a proper Eastern European position. This idea is not grounded in the simple game of identity politics, whereby specific monsters/entities search for their rights in cyberspace; rather it is a militant response to this constant process of fragmentation and particularization. Even more, I insist on the re-politicization of the cyberworld through taking a ground that is not a geographical space or a location on the geographical map of the New Europe, but, as E. Said would say, it is a ground that is a concept, a paradigm of such a space.


Absolute profanation and secularization are important processes. They are initiated by capital itself. This logical inversion may be summarized in the words of Baudrillard: "After all, it was capital which, throughout history, fed on the destruction of every referentially, every human objective, which completely loosened every differentiation between false and real, good and evil, in order to introduce a radical law of equivalence and exchange, the iron law of its power. Capital was the first to perform intimidation, abstraction, deterritorialization, non-connectdness, etc. (...) Nowadays this logic is turning against it."

Alain Badiou argues that it does not matter, if this disintegration of referentially nodes is going on in an almost barbaric way, still it has, as Baudrillard in the 80s was already implying, something of the ontological value. The processes of disintegration, that are the side effects of capitalism, put under question the mythos of presence, and of total visibility, and, last but not least, the fetish of the absolute One. The machine of capital itself is showing that the essence of presence is multi-layered, is multitude. This multitude was termed by Peter Weibel as zones of visibility and zones of invisibility. It is necessary to take the inconsistency produced by capital as an inconsistency of the multitude in itself. Democracy is, on the other hand, in this triangle, according to Badiou, just an economic democracy, connected with nothing else than bureaucracy, while ethics is, perhaps, the politics of the real. Democracy is a norm, inscribed in the relation of the subjects to the liberal state. Democracy is the form which is fostered by the state and stand solely and purely for a minimum of consensus achieved regarding economy and state apparatuses functionality. State democracy, argues Badiou, is constantly perpetuating the consensual organization of community and the law of normality. Normality is the way of disseminating the norm. It is always a situation or a codex of normatively imposed regulations which define what multitude is. This process of establishing and nurturing the norm is termed by Badiou: Counting for the One. The One is the one the capital and is conforming to what may be defined the tyrannical-dominating- imperial entity. Counting for the One is what the abstract position is effectuating. Counting for the One, for the tyrannical-dominating entity, for the logic of the capital, is a method how the western Europe and the north America function. They count: one, two, three new states will be part of the Whole of the (Western) Europe. The counted states are just the object of the Western Europe's phantasm. But with counting for the One, using such a method, we will never come to the Other, that is Two.

With counting we will never come to the Other. The Other is defined with the fact that we start to count at two. Two is not 1+1, and this is why instead of saying it is the Other, Lacan, according to Alenka Zupancic, says it is Two.

And even more: to say that the Other is two- means not explaining the difference between the One and the Other, but to point to the difference immanent in the Other. The third possibility is the Other of the Other (Zupancic), that means that the third option, between One and the Other, is not in fact a third way, or possibility. The third option is actually already inherent in the Other: the Two of the Other stay for its most internal obstacle. The Other of the Other means that the Other is to be perceived not as the double or the repetition of the One, but parallel to it! In such a constellation the History of the world is not the History of the lost mythical One, but is the History with two parallel sources. In this way, for example, Eastern Europe, Africa, etc., perceived as Two and not simply the Other of the One, can be seen as one of the possible sources. I would like to remind you that to be present at the same time, to be parallel, not to become the other from the One, the Other after the One, is also one of the possible strategies in art and culture, with the effect of radical de-realization; juxtaposing reality and its fantasmatic supplement face to face: and parallel one near the other.

I can also give a further critical remark, although it can not diminish the proposed important cut with the counting for the One. Capital has destroyed and de-fragmented the structure of the institution of the One, also in the first world theory and philosophy edifice, and it is now that this same philosophy and theory is trying to find a rational, theoretical outline to this total process of fragmentation, not to have to get rid of the historical, philosophical and theoretical edifice in which the One is still grounded. So to cut the counting for the One is a forced selection, and not a generous act of mutual understanding.

To cut, to stop the counting for the One is, therefore, the most important process in the space of art and politics, and this cut can be seen as a new way of acting, perceiving, functioning in art and culture today. To cut, to stop the counting for the One, producing the inconsistency of the One, is always a result. This inconsistency can be seen as a parallel process to the one explained above, as the inconsistency of the real world and as well its fantasmatic scenarios. We can see therefore in such a context also the importance of the law of total de-sacralization fostered by capital as well. And philosophy and art will have a chance to re-articulate the position of art and practice with politics, if they would take the impossible possibility to elaborate a project that cuts with the state politics, or better to say, if they will be in position to elaborate concepts that make visible what is for the state, for the capital edifice, an its cultural and democratic institutions seen, perceived as impossible. Insisting on the impossible, and making visible what is not possible to be seen, and re-articulating it, is a way of a possible cut of the counting for the One.

Marina Grzinic Mauhler works as researcher at the Institute of Philosophy (FI) at ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia, and is involved in video art and media productions, done in collaboration with Aina Smid, Ljubljana. Grzinic can be found at


Alain Badiou, lecture at the Venice conference on Art and Reality, organized by Ciro Brunni, GERMS, Paris, 15-17, March, 2001; participants: M. Richir, A. Badiou, H. Szeemann, M.Grzinic, D. Goldoni, J.M. Chouvel, and altri.

Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra", in Art and Text, Spring 1983, p. 28.

Marina Grzinic, Fiction reconstructed: Eastern Europe, Post-socialism and the Retro-avant-garde, Vienna: Edition selene in collaboration with Springerin, 2000.

Jelica Sumic Riha, "A Matter of Resistance", in Filozofski Vestnik (Acta Philosophica), No. 2/1997, special number on Power and Resistance. Eds., Jelica Sumic Riha and Oto Luthar, FI ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana 1997, pp. 127-153. Slavoj Zizek, The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch's Lost Highway, Seattle: The Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, 2000.

Alenka Zupancic, "Nietzsche in nic" (Nietzsche and Nothingness), in Filozofski Vestnik (Acta Philosophica), Ljubljana, No. 3/2000.