Marlena Kudlicka and Alain Badiou

Unprotected 0 Fig 120° is a tasty and refined sculpture/structure that bears charisma. What makes the specific charismas of such sculptures/structures that are both so silent and so manifest? Well, that they are both so silent and manifest. They are erect, they stand tall (or at least upright), they are constructed and crafted. Craftsmanship, intelligence and refinement they embody. They are manifestations. Due to their impersonality and blatant materiality they appear as objects in this world, as manifestations independent from man. As manifestations that are both personal and impersonal they may be both older than man or younger than man, at any rate they seem to transgress man and stand erect into an indefinite and/or potentially posthuman future – due to their futuristic architecture may even be a call from the posthuman future. They are both dependent from man and independent from man. Because of this, they are both sublime and – as maybe referring to an aesthetic/intellectual category of its own – less-than-sublime, and therefore create a more comprehensive whole. In their silence, they do not speak but seem vocal nevertheless. Maybe they embody some truth, but refuse to speak so that we are forced to enter into a relationship of mimesis and intuitivity to tap the secrets they seem to maintain or to express. They are a frontier to our imagination and confront us with the blank space of our original imagination. In that aspect, they are metaphysical and abysmal. They can only be completed with imagination, they are symbiotic with our imagination. In Marlena Kudlicka´s works sculptures get transgressed into structures. That is an aspect inherent in sculpture, but within the aesthetic approach of MK it gets more distinctly revealed. It becomes an emergent quality. It is transgressive. MK says she is interested not only in „structure“ but also in fragility and error as inherent parts or incremental ingredients of large structures. The delicate nature of construction of her native Poland under communism where building materials where often and unpredictably lacking provide an impetus, intellectually and metaphysically, that reminds us that the inclusion of fragility and error into that which seems solid and erect, greater completeness and substantial quality is achieved. It also reminds us that via the inclusion of idiosyncracy, beauty truly gets achieved, personalised and individualised (technically, beauty is just a combination of qualities in their most average manifestations). Hell yeah, Unprotected 0 Fig 120° is a manifestation! As such, it does not need further or external qualities as it comprises many (and probably paradoxical) qualities and seems a world in itself, a world that that is self-contained. It stands upright, it is solid, compact and affirmative. Indeed, it is a great affirmation! Imagine a little figure that wanders around and affirmatively and determinedly beats a drum – „Here I am! What would you do against me?! Here I am! And you can do nothing about it!“ That would be a personification of Unprotected 0 Fig 120°, at least as I can imagine, as it is presented before my inner eye. Very cute, very powerful, if not brutal. It is a great affirmation, indeed!

French philosopher Alain Badiou advocates that art should become more „affirmative“ again. Within so-called postmodernity, art somehow has lost its edge. Affirmation of particuliarities has undermined the sense of art being an expression of universality, affirmation of (particularised) subjectivity has, in practice, degenerated into an art being for the sake of self-expression without transmitting universal and objective messages and stylistic inventions (and, as one can add, contemporary emphasis on the artist´s biography – like being a member of a minority, being homosexual or having feminist credentials – over the actual art undermines the idea that art is primarily about oeuvre and not about personality). Them particuliarities seek alignment with the grand system of circulation, the art market and with „democracy“ and the democratic system of permissive communication, that, at least according to Badiou, is a system of manipulation and estalishment of a fake consensus. All of that produces averageness and harmlessness. You have an avant-gardism without avant-garde, frail particuliarties, an „inconsistent manifoldness“. Alongside with a „false humility“ that negates that art or philosophy could produce absolute truth, it has become a feeble enterprise. Badiou affirms that art should become (again) about „monumental construction“, about (grandiose) „project“ and about the creative power of weakness and establishing a stark contrast to the forces of establishment. „Art has to be as solid as a mathematical proof, has to come as unexpected as a nightly attack, and has to stand as high as a star.“ Toward the end of his life, Duchamp said that (within a permissive society that consumes and digests avant-gardism, as well as in a post-avant-garde age where artists may have to find radically new ways in order to be able to be truly innovative) the artist of the future will need to go into the underground, and also Badiou says that affirmative art of the future will happen outside the established systems of communication as it is incommensurate with them. As „proletarian aristocratism“, the artwork of the future does not communicate and it does not deliver a direct message, as it delivers a universal message to all, from a standpoint that is both weaker than the establishment and therein more universal, and also stronger than the establishment and therein more universal (and less average). It affirms the potential of art to produce truly powerful and all-inclusive as well as transcendent meaning. Avant-garde has always also been about creating a subjectivity and a territory that the „system“ (and there is always a „system“) cannot truly colonise; thererin you have a dialectics of inclusion and exlusion that is often very demanding for the true artist. – Therein, let us say, that we do not truly know how this art will look like. That we do not truly know how it will look like is, of course, a part of the game, since true art comes unexpectedly. I can also say that art with metaphysical potential is truly in place in contemporary art (though not necessarily at the forefront). I do not know what to think about Badiou´s traditional left-leaning heuristics about „democracy“ and the „systems“ of „democratic communication“ being about or resulting in the production of „false consciousness“, and, more generally, to make concluding and comprehensive statements about contemporary art is an evasive attempt that has been excitingly plagueing me now for years, but maybe we can say that true art is also about the production of powerful and all-inclusive symbols – and in a highly individualised society – where conditions are, to a considerable degree, fulfilled for which the avant-gardists, left-wingers and punks of the past have been fighting for – finding symbols like Warhols repetitive soup cans or a cubist painting as grand signifiers of respective modernity appears much less likely. To find a master signifier seems truly difficult nowadays. Nevertheless, things of depth and of value can be found, indeed. If you think of the master signifier and the symbol and the affirmative art as outlined by Badiou, the consciousness of the deep genius of art of today will both subvert and transcent today´s state of the art of the Weltgeist. It will be the Unitary Consciousness that is the reflection and the meta-level of the Weltgeist. The deep genius of the art inhabitates the bottom of the ocean, where he lives and dwells. Think of an ultra-deep genius of art that forever lives at the bottom of the ocean, whose work will hardly be recognised during his lifetime and forgotten after his demise, because people are forever too stupid to understand him! Fascinating, eh? This is, of course, only a hypothetical case, since people are not stupid.