Saturday, February 25, 2023

Continuing, after a fashion.

The photographs come in a bright, nearly fluorescent hue. Their connecting theme is “love.” In a portrait called Love (hands in hair), a woman with reddish hair and shuttered eyes is clutched by a pair of male hands reaching from outside the frame. In another picture a man in a jean jacket dances alone, almost reaching for a nearby hand. In Love (hands praying), a woman with closed eyes folds her hands amidst a crowd of partygoers. As if in a secular ritual, she meditates in the anonymity of the nightclub. The people in the photographs dance to music modeled on noises emitted by the industrial machinery of Detroit and Manchester, the twin birth cities of techno.

In 1989, however—the year in which these photos were taken—the machines are no longer operative. Most of them have downsized or relocated to China, whereas the twin cities of techno have deindustrialized. Traveling through a Chinese megacity some years before, the German photographer Hilla Becher noticed a reassembled copy of a steel mill she once shot in Europe. Now, the youngsters in Wolfgang Tillmans’s nightlife photographs seek to dance away industry, politics and history itself.

Hilla Becher's first visit to China was in 2012, and Vincent Chin wasn't killed because he was Chinese. The American move to China didn't heat up until the 90s. 


Last year I even went to China, to  Beijing, with my son Max, who is now a photographer himself, working alongside his wife. I wanted  to see what the Chinese blast furnaces are like  and discovered that they are just like the ones  here - this is no accident, they were all copied  from the industries in the Ruhr. 

On rave and techno and the collective, and the hive, start here

Jäger is just another kid with nostalgia for a world he doesn't remember, because he wasn't there.

In 1993 I helped David Zwirner move the art in the gallery to a temporary storage while he expanded his space. The two of us, in August, pushing dollies from Greene street to Broome. Brooke Alexander had closed for the month and he gave Zwirner the key. Josh Baer had just closed his gallery on another floor for good, and the new renter was a fashion boutique. Zwirner shrugged. "There's no difference between art and fashion anymore."  I've used that quote before. I'm not sure Jäger knows what it means.

In 1989, when the wall fell, my first response was to say it would be the time to join the CP. The September Group called it quits. I had a sense of humor, and they didn't. On election night 1992 I asked Pierre Trudeau what he thought of Clinton. "He's a Republican".  He shrugged, as Zwirner would a year later. Do I need to add that I wasn't surprised? That I shrugged too? I repeat myself because no one gets the joke.

Jäger. A sentence near the beginning of the piece, cut into the final one, throwing the rest out:

The resultant order, which I’ve referred to as 'hyperpolitics,' presents a challenge.... a world unkind to nostalgics and futurists alike." 

It would be nice to think so.  

The piece is made for the computer voice "listen to this article" option. The same is true for everything at The Point; airport business lounge intellectualism. 

Tillmans' raves. 

The mood could certainly feel liberatory. The release from the ideological churches of the twentieth century was met with a sense of elation, especially by those who sought to remove the strictures of gender and race that had drawn the contours of “organized capitalism” since the Second World War.

Young Israelis in Europe. And every time I hear 'The end of history" I remember "the end of art" and laugh. 

I experienced the modern version of The Floating World for the first time in the late 90's, at a small private party in a rented room on the lower east side. I said to someone it felt like Limbo as an airport lounge in 1974. The soundtrack was Air, and I amused myself a bit more by deciding that Prada was Halston in brown.

The effect is akin to a narcosis that not only slows but regulates motion. It's Chaplin's Modern Times at 5 frames per second, with the gears wrapped in fine silk: aestheticized anesthetic motion. The rhythms, bass and snare and little clicks invite improvisatory response, touches of free will in a rigidly deterministic world. At 1:20 when the strings come in and at 1:29 when they modulate and the plane begins to glide across the screen I get a shiver of aphasia. 
And the the scream at 0:26 is Hitchcock.

I've read bits of Annie Ernaux. Deeply sexual, passive and observant of her own passivity, and of the world; like a call girl; a principled moral conservative. Jäger quotes but doesn't link to Christopher Caldwell in Commentary, and Sam Kriss in First Things, but it would be too much to counter their arguments.
As the American critic Christopher Caldwell pointed out in 2020, the age of post-politics required “dismantling hierarchies, institutions and cultures.” Although presented as an economic imperative, this generated a problem for fiction writers, since “the same hierarchies, institutions, and culture are what novels have always been about,” and post-politics “does not nurture these the way it did in an age of large and loyal families, intertangled commercial enterprises and long-settled communities."
I'm having a flashback
… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse.


Back then, it was not normal for young people to define themselves politically. My friends were fond of making grand statements like “I’m bigger than feminism” or “Politics is for little minds.”

The facebook post is still up.

I had hoped I would never have to write this account. But watching a man who repeatedly groped me, twisted my neck to forcibly kiss me, ignored any attempt I made to stop him,... 

The last paragraph of Kriss's piece.

There will still be a few political weirdos in the new decade we’re entering, and there will still be plenty of outrages and injustices to galvanize them. Against my better judgment, I will be one of those weirdos. If you’re reading this, odds are that you will too. You might be my enemy, but we have this awful thing in common. We will talk about politics at parties long after everyone else has given up. We will write our little articles. We will continue hoping for the next crisis, the next rupture, the next sudden break that puts everything back into question, the next dawn of a different world. And maybe it will happen, some day. But not today.

All the men above are assholes and idiots, and the ladylike passivity of the woman who wrote about Kriss is sad, but still in the line connecting Ernaux and Mary Gaitskill to the author of Cat Person.

"Lying Flat is Justice"  If Jäger were smarter and less serious, more observant, he'd see he has the material for a sharper piece.

This is a good match. I should stack them and blow it up. [I did]

A student of politics reads the "Maastricht treaty" on a beach in Marseille on August 19, 1992, before making her choice for the
upcoming referendum on September 20. Eric Cabanis/AFP via Getty Images

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