Somewhere between the The Radicant by Nicolas Bourriaud (page 16 here quoted) and Stealing the Mona Lisa by Darian Leader and his take on the public reaction to it being missing, I have confirmed my fears about the passive spectators of a museum gallery, they deface what they see even if they don’t know it, how they as an art appreciation collective imagine destruction and obliteration of artworks, why do spectators take so much pleasure at defacing? In 1911 when the Monalisa was stolen, millions came to see the empty wall, to see what was not seen… what was no longer possible to see… after that the Monalisa became an icon nobody will forget. Many did the same in the aftermath of 9/11 with millions visiting as tourist of history and taking pictures of ground zero as of to keep a memory of what was no longer possible to see… Is this a hidden desire of the humans to destroy inorder to conquer? I always wondered if people felt the same when the Taliban destroyed The Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan, I wonder if tourist try to go there? We all want to be in the present but with a link to the past, and sometimes more attached to the relative. The concept of the radicant being a human that builds roots in many places and keeps building them to connect to the rest while experimenting with the limits of art… touches my deepest hidden hopes…
A number of authors and artists have already taken this step, though the novel space in which they are feeling their way has yet to be named. But at the heart of their practices are crucial principles on the basis of which a modernity could be reconstituted. Principles that may be enumerated: a focus on the present, experimentation, the relative, the fluid. The present, because the modern (“what belongs to its time,” for such is its historical definition) is a passion for the current, for today understood as seed and beginning—against conservative ideologies that would embalm it, against reactionary movements whose ideal is the restoration of this or that time past, but also, in a manner that distinguishes our modernity from preceding ones, against futurist prescriptions, teleological notions of all sorts, and the radicality that accompanies them. Experimentation, because being modern means daring to seize the occasion, the kairos. It means venturing, not resting contentedly with tradition, with existing formulas and categories; but seeking to clear new paths, to become a test pilot. To be equal to this risk, it is also necessary to call into question the solidity of things, to practice a generalized relativism, a critical comparatism unsparing of the most tenacious certainties, to perceive the institutional and ideological structures that surround us as circumstantial, historical, and changeable at will. “There are no facts,” wrote Nietzsche, “only interpretations.”06 This is why the modern favors the event over monumental order, the ephemeral over an eternity writ in stone; it is a defense of fluidity against omnipresent reification.07
06 FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, THE WILL TO POWER, TRANS. WALTER KAUFMANN (NEW YORK: VINTAGE BOOKS, 1968), 267 (481); TRANSLATION MODIFIED.
07 FOR A TRANSHISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF MODERNITY THAT EXPLORES THE IMPERATIVE TO “MAKE YOUR LIFE A WORK OF ART,” SEE THE AUTHOR’S FORMES DE WE: LART MODERNE ET L’ INVENTION DE SOI (PARIS, EDITIONS DENOEL, 1999).