“A Third World Artist”, byALEXANDER BRENER

29 02 2012

This little rant by artist Alex Brener is a touch dated and binary but telling of a certain social unrest that is still relevant.

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Today I want my voice to get stronger, the voice of the third world artist. I need my voice to be heard. It should be heard not because it brings any news, some fresh truth, not because it promises new opportunities or inspires some incomprehensible threat. No, my voice should be heard, because if it is not heard now, it won’t be heard at all. We live in the time, whose only assignment is acceleration, outstripping itself and forgetting everything, not belonging to this acceleration. A third world artist does not belong to the acceleration. This artist belongs to something else – a pitiful shout of helplessness, good-for-nothing lyrics of the abandoned, hopeless cry for help, hoarse yell of indignation.
“What is this third world artist?” – you will ask me. “Which third world are you talking about? There is no second world, is there?”.
Yes, I will answer, the second world – the world of ungifted, clinical, weak-minded socialism does not exist, while the third world is still around. It is the world of fragmented obscurantism, the world of old technologies, the world of indigent market, the world that has suffered the catastrophe of communal ideology, the world of semi-decayed ethic and aesthetic rags. This world does not belong to the West, East, North or South. It is everywhere. It is localized in a great number of spaces, as a torn scrappy blanket, which covers a gorgeous overripe body of the modern neo-liberalism. The third world – the world of despised discourses and wasted hot flesh outbursts spit and sperm in the poor districts of the Mexico-city and Brooklyn, in the Viennese Turkish ghetto and in the heart of Moscow. This excited, tongue-tied, pimple-faced third world also needs an artist. How can it be in another way? Then why can’t I be this artist and explain you, what kind of unpleasant art he is trying to create?

As you certainly know the third world artist is a product of the first (advanced, capitalist) world, and it is a product of the second – socialist, which collapsed and vanished in the air. The third world artist is a kid, a fruit of a monstrous parental coitus, who has appeared on an overfilled dump for god knows which reasons. Who threw him there? His father, a scoundrel? Or his mother, a bitch? The baby can’t guess, unless clever uncles from Sorbonne and Harvard help it. But if they do not? Then, well, bless them, we’ll do everything ourselves.
The fact is that the uncles from Princeton and Heidelberg have already helped and taught as well as the poets-experimenters from Paris and London and vanguard artists from Zurich and New-York. It is them who explained the poor third world kid that culture is a great power and force, that art does not only reflect the reality, but also transforms it, that art is a brutal war, and its banners read: “Negation! Freedom! Analysis! Revolution! Resistance!”. And the poor kid started swinging a crooked little saber and prancing a wooden horse. The cur-child got it all literally, the weak little doom. But it is the kind of consciousness that we have in the third world, such minds we have – trustful and non-reflective, naive and not too smart, rather cunning. Which analysis can we do ?!
Acting as though by the recipes of theorists and practical workers from the western “holy stone land” the third artist got into a terrible heresy, made lots of trouble and pronounced foolish declarations. But what is the most important, he was playing out of tune. He was seeking the truth being an in-born liar, demanded justice, while realizing that mercy is more important, spoke about love, when scare was ruling his heart. He confused the success with significance, but it is the same in the first world! He rebelled, while caring about a review in a magazine, but everyone around is the same! What can you expect of a faintly educated third world artist, except for childish tricks, terrible yells and cursing? What else can an ill-bred, wriggling teenager offer? Nothing he can offer.
But in the same time, I, the third world artist, reject all respected virtues and offers of this big successful world. I reject it, because I don’t believe in it, despise it and I am bored of it. I reject the intellectual snobbery and the institutional well-being, which has become the criteria in this world. I reject pervert, but helpless discourse industry, which guarantees a success in this big world. I reject shameful ethic dualism, which has become a common place in the present world. I reject the subtle frustration, which has become a necessary attribute of an artist. I reject it in favor of more comfortable suffering, but perhaps a more fruitful one. I reject the hypocritical and lying language of modern art in favor of an elementary political gesture. However, I am not so simple and childish myself. Enough of pathetic exaggerations. I would like to conclude in the following way: I promise you to be sober-minded and cunning, resourceful and dangerous. I promise to act so that you could not sink me or surround by silence, promise to work against you smartly and cautiously, promise to be attentive and cool-hearted, in order to hit you slightly and strongly, where I can, till I have enough strength, even if it does not have any future. (1998)

ALEXANDER BRENER
Born in 1961 in Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan). Artist, writer, critic. Works in the field of an object, installation, and radical performance. Co-founder of the so-called “Moscow Actionism”. Author of numerous poetry books. From 1997 lives in Vienna.

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