Blog Post #12- Ilana Wolpert

The title of the article “What is to be done?” asks an elusively ambiguous question, seemingly directed at the intellectual minds of the 21st century. “What is to be done” seems to imply that something needs to be done about society- specifically, a society with a commodity fetishism. The author states that the artist is crucial to this development of a society in which artists will be essential in disseminating political beliefs. The “Revolution,” capitalized as in Takim Bey’s “TAZ,” invokes the idea of a certain specific revolution, one identified by history as such. Art needs to continue to elicit political thought, as it did in the time of the “Revolution.”

One of the comics uses the phrase “spectacular society,” depicting a woman walking through a shopping mall. This is an allusion of Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle,” as well as the Situationists. The woman herself appears cynical by her quote, and appears to reject the type of consumer culture that the “spectacular society” propagates. Another controversial aspect of the comics is the line in the second comic: “The only free choice is refusal to pay.” This line quite obviously implies that stealing is the only way to evade commodification, in which people are trapped by the undulating control society. Could this be considered a tactic of nonexistence- evading the exchange of credit to therefore avoid being placed in the store’s register system? It seems to be a questionable tactic- one that I cannot bolster, as I do with the Facebook nonexistence tactic. However, I can’t quite tell if Skidan is critiquing this tactic or revering it.

In “Manifesto 003,” Magun, Maizel, and Skidan seem to revere the culture of the Soviet Union, and critique the last decade of cultural deprival. Whereas St. Petersburg was once rich in art, politics, and architecture, it is now petrified. The authors propose a “large movement of the people involved in culture, those who are interested in the renewal of the urban space of Saint-Petersburg.” By positively reviving the city’s culture, but negatively refusing the types of low culture that the city currently celebrates (or did, as the article was written in 2003), the artists believe that they can facilitate the growth of a new, avant-garde urbanity from the ashes of Soviet culture.

In “Manifesto of the Architects,” it is stated that “The alternative to consumer society is the refusal to take part in its games of the infinite purchase/change of commodities.” A statement, I believe, that Sean Dockray would heartily disagree with. Dockray proposes in his “Facebook (Suicide) Bomb Manifesto” that the best way to practice a tactic of nonexistence and reject social networks is to basically become as involved in them as possible and essentially blowing up the newsfeeds, rather than withdrawing from Facebook altogether.

 

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