Our own present moment is not so straightforward. With the many cultural platforms and strategic positions that seek to create knowledge, revise histories, and influence world views, our identities seem to be in constant flux. The contingency of the self is center stage, and its liberation the priority. However, the question of the self and what constitutes its liberation are far from resolved. At the risk of simplifying the far from trivial problem of how change occurs and how the individual develops in society, we are subject to everything but ourselves. Oppression comes in many forms. The options seem clear: either negotiate the multiplicity of positions and constant restructuring of existent views or be subject to them. Developing tactics to cope is paramount. Strategy is the status quo.
Within an art context, multiple dialogues, operating within varying degrees of righteousness and entertainment, have arisen that in one way or another deal with these contingent issues by portraying alternative forms of representation, addressing neglected spaces, and challenging our notions of time. The articulation of all of them is not my intent. Moreover, there have been much greater minds than my own within more global dialogues who have sought to define and offer vision to these problems, and still many more people who, under greater modes of distress, are forced to draw conclusions about these things. The last thing I would like to do is trivialize through pedantic simplicity. Therefore, I characterize my own artistic efforts as an intense need to learn, to justify or undermine what I have been taught, to question the social conditioning of authority, to meet all contingencies of the self and relentlessly critique their implications, even if only I see the results. I think our present moment requires, at a minimum, this paradoxical addition: a simultaneous search for reasons for this activity of learning and of critiquing, and, perhaps, only at the most intense and extreme points when we have a chance to see our deepest conflicts and hidden paradoxes, an absolute cessation of it.
Samuel Nigro. “Strategy is the Status Quo” PAJ: A Journal of Performance & Art. 73 (2003), 21-28.
selfhood; authenticity; modernity; anthropology.