Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What does a post card want to say to you? On what conditions is it possible? Its destination traverses you, you no longer know who you are. At the very instant when from its address it interpellates, you, uniquely you, instead of reaching you it divides you or sets you aside, occasionally overlooks you. And you love and you do not love, it makes of you what you wish, it takes you, it leave you, it gives you.

My contribution to this exhibition, ghost writing, 2005 was made for the circumstances and situation found in the Durand Art Institute at Lake Forest College. The context of the piece is the dual function of the building as home to both the art and philosophy departments and the distance and location of the college in relation to Chicago. The piece is not a presentation of objects / not a container for objects nor a finished activity. The piece is instead an event, a situation—a place for an activity to take place. ghost writing uses the idea of mail and its transportation as an opportunity to interrogate the idea of art and our understanding of distance, language, presence and transparency. The piece takes as its initiating moments two work s of modern philosophical thought: “The Origin of the Work of Art” (an essay based on lectures given by Martin Heidegger in the mid 1930’s) and The Post Card by Jacques Derrida (1980) The piece does not summarize, explain, delineate or justify either of these two works. It is not “inspired” by them. Rather, it is an attempt to have them “playing in the background” as one moves through the idea of an action observed in motion against a moment of disjuncture produced by overlaying one text over another. Into and through the interrogation of the nature of communication embodied in the post card is the transposition of the American image of peasant shoes found in Walker Evans for the shoes painted by Van Gogh in the Heidegger essay. The work involved in ghost writing is the work of displacement—the shift from reading to believing. The work tempts participation, invites commitment but evades investigation. it is not an “effort” or an idea, merely a gesture.

Works of art are familiar to everyone. Architectural and sculptural works can be seen installed in public places, in churches, and in dwellings. Art works of the most diverse periods and peoples are housed in collections and exhibitions. If we consider the works in their untouched actuality and do not deceive ourselves, the result is that the works are as naturally present as are things. The picture hangs on the wall like a rifle or a hat. A painting, e.g., the one by Van Gogh that represents a pair of peasant shoes, travels from one exhibition to another. Works of art are shipped like coal from the Ruhr and logs from the Black Forest. During the First World War Holderlin's hymns were packed in the soldier's knapsack together with cleaning gear. Beethoven's quartets lie in the storerooms of the publishing house like potatoes in a cellar.

So, I will accept your gift. As one always has gratitude for that which is given freely, the gift appears as a blessing. Particularly when the gift is created explicitly for the receiver. On some occasions, the receiver of the gift is asked to comment or directly reflect on the specific qualities of the gift. But an exchange cannot be easily broken, or entered into without difficulty. They should not be taken apart. The only real product of the exchange is further exchange—the deeds producing deeds, words, acts of filiation and future refinement. The gift becomes endless commentary, interpretation and a beneficial thinking. A beneficent momentary challenge for a future—a promise fulfilled in the future of a future. The blessing of thinking is in its return. Thinking becomes thanking in the exchange. We will realize this promise in the agreement not to mend a future which has not occurred. This is because the occurrence happens only once and is never repeated the same way again. Two halves of the same variable equal size and proportion balance each other in mirror relations—one sequence overheard in secret and the other foretold by the grace of language.

This will then have been a gilded writing. Recording that which had not happened until that suggestion of the first meeting with that unforsaken last. Let’s retrace our steps and decide which line wraps most closely around the farthest reaches of the area. It was white flags out and red flags returning, correct? If only for a moment, you had to have been there, to see me.