August 24, 2015


Filed under: art — ABRAXAS @ 7:05 am


August 21, 2015

harmony siganporia on the meaning of art

Filed under: art — ABRAXAS @ 4:38 pm

in order to mean art must do

August 13, 2015

boomerang to the source

Filed under: 2005 - giant steps,art — ABRAXAS @ 3:01 pm

lefifi tladi
first published here: https://eugeneskeefrhythmforlife.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/monti-wa-marumo-boomerang-to-the-source/

August 3, 2015

on what is beautiful

Filed under: art,music,philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 10:49 pm

“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.”
― John Cage

August 1, 2015

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 10:23 am


July 26, 2015

asiko history of contemporary art in mozambique

Filed under: art — ABRAXAS @ 11:06 pm

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first published here: https://www.daily-mail.co.zm/?p=37684

sally’s back

Filed under: art,dick tuinder — ABRAXAS @ 2:09 am


July 25, 2015

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 8:58 pm


July 21, 2015

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 6:48 pm


July 9, 2015

perverse dada kill your mama fuck everything, god too, and YOU

Filed under: art — ABRAXAS @ 3:10 pm


keep reading this article here: http://jacobwren.tumblr.com/post/123482344755/internetpoetry-mcag-statement-on-statements

buckethead makes good

Filed under: art,Manfred Zylla,unga dada — ABRAXAS @ 2:58 pm



first published here: http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-witness/20150709/281822872468396/TextView

July 4, 2015

Filed under: art,dick tuinder — ABRAXAS @ 10:01 pm


July 3, 2015

alexandra dodd on manfred zylla’s art of resistance

Filed under: art,Manfred Zylla,politics,reviews,unga dada — ABRAXAS @ 1:48 pm

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June 28, 2015

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 2:55 pm


June 27, 2015

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 4:03 pm


manfred zylla’s 120 days of sodom

Filed under: art,Manfred Zylla — ABRAXAS @ 11:57 am


June 22, 2015

a total art matchbox

Filed under: art — ABRAXAS @ 10:05 am

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more fluxus info here: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-fluxus.htm

June 19, 2015

ngugi wa thiongo on the relationship between art and the state

Filed under: art,literature,politics,stephanie vos — ABRAXAS @ 5:00 pm


So a state, any state, is conservative by its very nature as a state. It wants things as they are, for it is constituted in the first place to ensure stability in a society with contending social forces and interests. Even in times of revolution the emerging state, after settling scores with the old regime and institutions, soon relaxes into safeguarding the gains and the new institutions from further changes. There is no state that can be in permanent revolution. Art, on the other hand, is revolutionary by its very nature as art. It is always revising itself– the avant-garde overthrowing old forms. Even in the work of the same artist there is a constant struggle to find new expression — a continual striving for self-renewal. And as for its relation to content, it looks at things not only as they are, but more essentially as they could be. […] But content is never still. It is constantly undergoing change. Art strives to capture the essence of reality, which is motion. It celebrates motion. Art is simultaneously stillness in motion and motion in stillness. The state strives towards the perfection of the form of things, such as the legal system, even where this is in conflict to changing content. It wants to arrest motion, to continue with the repetition of the movement, supervise the known and the familiar. Stillness without motion: that is the essence of the art of the state.

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams

a take on the fake that baudrillard would have loved

Filed under: art,philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 1:40 pm


An art dealer once went to Pablo Picasso and said, “I have a bunch of ‘Picasso’ canvasses that I was thinking of buying. Would you look them over and tell me which are real and which are forgeries?” Picasso obligingly began sorting the paintings into two piles. Then, as the Great Man added one particular picture to the fake pile, the dealer cried, “Wait a minute, Pablo. That’s no forgery. I was visiting you the weekend you painted it.” Picasso replied imperturbably, “No matter. I can fake a Picasso as well as any thief in Europe.”
robert anton wilson

May 30, 2015

the enemy of art is

Filed under: art,film,film as subversive art — ABRAXAS @ 11:18 pm

“to do something interesting in so called Art, you have to have an enemy. The more powerful the enemy the better, so you must hide what you really think; then you find the formula probably which squeezes between Scylla and Charybdis. The collapse of the Polish cinema today is because they have no enemy. There is no enemy politically now, they all want money therefore capitalism is not an enemy.”
andrzej zulawski
read the full interview here: http://offscreen.com/view/an-interview-with-andrzej-zulawski-and-daniel-bird

May 24, 2015

Agnes Martin on the artist’s pride

Filed under: art,philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 2:01 pm

You think it would be easy to discover what is blinding you, but it isn’t so easy. It’s pride and fear that covers the mind. Pride blinds you. It destroys everything on the way in. Pride is completely destructive. It never leaves anything untouched. First it takes one way … telling you that you’re all right … boosting up your ego, making all kinds of excuses for you… It takes a long time for us to turn against pride and get rid of it entirely. And, of course, with every little downfall of pride, we feel a tremendous step up in freedom and in joy. Of course, most people don’t really have to come to grips with pride and fear. But artists do, because as soon as they’re alone and solitary, they feel fear. Most people don’t believe they have pride and fear, because they’ve been conditioned on pride and fear. But all of us have it. If we don’t think we have it, then that’s a deceit of pride. Pride practices all kinds of deceits. It’s very, very tricky. To recognize and overcome fear and pride, in order to have freedom of mind, is a long process.

more here: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/31/agnes-martin-john-gruen-interview/

May 23, 2015

costica bradatan reviews marius hentea’s life of tristan tzara

Filed under: art,literature,philosophy,poetry,reviews,unga dada — ABRAXAS @ 3:02 pm

Marius Hentea
The real life and celestial adventures of Tristan Tzara
360pp. MIT Press. Paperback, £24.95 (US $34.95).
978 0 262 02754 0

It is . . . foolish and self-destructive to lead a Dada life”, the poet Andrei Codrescu has written, because a Dada life will “include by definition pranks, buffoonery . . . intoxication, sabotage, taboo-breaking, playing childish and/or dangerous games, waking up dead gods, and not taking education seriously.” Dada is all these things and, beyond them, a constant practice of self-creation, an orgy of self-fashioning. That much is clear from the life of one of its founders, Tristan Tzara, as recounted by Marius Hentea.


Tristan Tzara was born Samuel Rosenstock in Moineşti (a small town in Romania, some 200 miles north of Bucharest) on April 16, 1896. At the time, Romania was still using the Julian calendar. By the modern calendar, his birthday would be April 28, which, as Hentea points out, happens to be the day when the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrates the martyr Dada. (This is not a Dadaist joke.) Although he was born into an affluent middle-class milieu, Samuel lacked something important: a country. Until the end of the First World War, Jews in Romania were rarely citizens, even when they were born there, even after several generations. Those who did gain Romanian citizenship – for example, decorated war veterans or influential financiers – were naturalized on an individual basis, through a complicated legal procedure. Young Samuel must have found that unbearable, because around 1915 he decided he should have in his name what he didn’t have in real life: Tzara (“country”).

Most ironic of all, however, is the fact that the word is slightly misspelled: it should in fact beŢara (which Samuel also considered). To simplify pronunciation and spelling, it might make sense to use “Tzara” abroad, but not inside Romania, where it looks unusual and foreign. That must have been precisely Samuel’s point. Alienation became his second nature, and foreignness his artistic method. When he adopted French as his main language, he made sure he didn’t sound too native in it. As Hentea aptly points out, “the foreignness of French contributed to his distinctive poetry, which could be destructive and bric-à-brac in the way that a native poet could not be”.

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Once Samuel Rosenstock became Tristan Tzara, he was perhaps bound to leave his native country; indeed, another way of reading “Tristan Tzara” in Romanian is Trist înțarǎ: “[it is] sad in the country”. His feelings about Romania, though, would have been more complex than that, for his young country was in the throes of a “rushed modernity”, as Hentea puts it. Barely independent from the Ottoman Empire, Romania was furiously refashioning itself as a European country, adopting everything Western. Bucharest, once a sleepy Eastern town, dreamed of being “a little Paris”, and was undergoing the most dramatic changes. As the French author Frédéric Damé noticed in 1906: “Everything which today makes up the capital’s beauty, everything which gives it the air of a modern city only dates from yesterday”. So the notion of radical reinvention, of re-creation from scratch, was something Tzara must have breathed along with Bucharest’s dusty air. And he smuggled it out with him when he left for Zurich.

Officially, Tzara went to Zurich to complete his studies, but he spent much of his time in the city’s literary cafés and cabarets. In February 1916, having nothing to lose, he decided to perform in one of these cabarets with a handful of friends. Nothing in these youths’ exotic, awkward appearance suggested the earthquake they were about to produce. Hugo Ball, the cabaret’s founder, recalled their arrival at his first performance: “an Oriental-looking deputation of four little men arrived, with portfolios and pictures under their arms: repeatedly they bowed politely. They introduced themselves: Marcel Janco the painter, Tristan Tzara, Georges Janco, and a fourth gentleman whose name I did not quite catch”. The birth of Dada, orchestrated by these “little men”, can be traced to that performance. Other future Dadaists were already there or on their way: Ball, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck, to name just a few. From Zurich, Dada would spread like fire on a dry night.


When Tzara mockingly whispered, “Adieu ma mère, adieu mon père”, on the cabaret’s stage, his farewell had little to do with his family. Rather, it must have been addressed to a whole civilization and the order on which it was based – political, economic, military, cultural and intellectual. That order itself was an odd thing. Firmly rooted in the “Age of Reason”, it evolved into something that was anything but rational; what had started out, innocently enough, in the literary salons of the Enlightenment, with writers singing praises to “man in a state of nature” and philosophers dreaming of “perpetual peace”, ended up with one of the bloodiest wars the world had ever seen. The civilization of Europe came to exhibit the wildest contradictions: it mostly did away with transcendence, yet it worshipped science; it gleefully proclaimed that “God is dead”, yet embraced reason with a boundless faith. The latest discoveries in chemistry were used to gas the other side’s soldiers; barely invented, the aeroplane was deployed to bomb their cities more thoroughly. The First World Ward showed just how easy it was for a civilization built on a faith in “infinite progress” to regress to barbarism.

What Tzara – and, with him, the whole Dadaist movement – did was, in a sense, disarmingly simple: they placed a mirror before a civilization that seemed to be committing suicide. They just sat to one side, amusing themselves to death. As Tzara put it, Dada remained within the “framework of European weaknesses, it’s still shit, but from now on we want to shit in different colours so as to adorn the zoo of art with all the flags of all the consulates”. And the place where all this started – referred to by Tzara as a “cosmopolitan mix of God and brothel” – was called, quite fittingly, “Cabaret Voltaire”.

Hentea traces Tzara’s every step from Moineşti to Zurich to Paris, and discusses everything he published, every magazine he edited, every hoax he performed, almost every letter he wrote. The Tzara that emerges is Dada’s leading figure: a gifted poet, performer and editor, a tireless manager, promoter and public relations expert. As Hentea points out, the overwhelming importance of modern mass media for the dissemination of avant-garde ideas was something that Tzara understood like few writers before him.

Tzara’s unforgettable manifestos, with their combination of literary, artistic, typographical and even commercial elements, created the social awareness needed for Dada to make an impact. In no time he became a virtuoso of “l’arte di far manifesti”, as the Futurist Marinetti put it. His voice was clear and poignant, his gestures precise, self-assured, light-handed, his writing razor-sharp. Take this fragment from the “Dada Manifesto” (1918):

“abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada; abolition of memory: Dada; abolition of archaeology: Dada; abolition of prophets: Dada; abolition of the future: Dada; absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada;”

Such statements did not make Tzara a militant or activist. In line with Dada’s absurdist philosophy, his manifestos are manifestly against everything and nothing, which makes them nonsensical, which is precisely his point. “I write a manifesto and I want nothing”, he said. “In principle I am against manifestos, as I am against principles . . . . I write this manifesto to show that people can perform contrary actions together while taking one fresh gulp of air.” Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett would take the absurd from where Tzara left off, and turn it into a new art form altogether.

Importantly, Tzara’s manifestos are not sermons; he is in no position to sermonize. This, for instance, is from the “Manifesto of Mr. Aa the anti-philosopher”:

“Take a good look at me!
I am an idiot, I am a clown, I am a faker.
Take a good look at me!
I am ugly, my face has no expression, I am little.
I am like all of you!”

Proclamations such as these touch on something deeper than the sheer “entertainment” some Dada performances, happenings and hoaxes might suggest: they reveal the philosophical vision in which all of them were rooted and which is not reconstructed in Hentea’s book as fully as it might have been. Tzara the philosopher is an intriguing figure, as complex as he is unexplored. Throughout his work the former philosophy student engaged – unsystematically and eclectically, but passionately – with Nietzsche, Wilhelm Wundt, Henri Bergson, and perhaps even, as Andrei Codrescu and others have shown, with elements of Hasidic and Kabbalistic philosophy. On the one hand, Tzara’s thought is a philosophy of crisis – an “anti-philosophy” – that responded to the manmade catastrophes of his time. On the other, there is something trans-historical and metaphysical about Tzara’s vision. His universe is one where chance, spontaneity and indeterminacy rule. “Logic is always false”, he said. “It draws the superficial fibres of concepts and words towards illusory conclusions and centres.” For Tzara, as for Dostoevsky’s underground man, one can find liberation only in sticking one’s tongue out. Life in such a universe, he once suggested, boils down to “a game of words”; yet still a game worth playing.

On his deathbed, Tzara told a journalist: “Everyone is a poet in one way or another, in a more or less conscious way”. He may have started out as a “faker” and a “clown”, playing the “idiot” out of media savviness or just a desire to provoke; yet he came to take his own masks seriously. If as a young rebel he made a career out of poking fun at the literary establishment, late in life he fought tooth and nail to ensure that his position in the canon was properly recognized, and his legacy taken care of. More seriously, he ended up entangled in some of the contradictions of the world he had always laughed at, finding himself mocked, as it were, by the object of his own mockery. Early on he had rejected political activism and thought Communism a “bourgeois form of revolution”, but after the Second World War he joined the French Communist Party, and took an active role in it. He was, as Hentea puts it, “fully committed to PCF cultural initiatives” and represented the Party abroad. Tzara even went so far as to sing the praises of the Soviet Union for having “guaranteed freedom of expression”. What kind of freedom Soviet Russia guaranteed was revealed in 1956, when the Red Army put a bloody end to the Budapest Uprising. Tzara promptly left the PCF.

Marius Hentea has given us what will probably be the book in English on Tristan Tzara for some time: splendidly written, thoroughly researched, balanced and sophisticated, and infected by his subject’s creative energy. With its eye-catching design and generous illustrations, there is also something distinctly Dada about TaTa Dada, for which the publishers deserve their fair share of praise.

Costica Bradatan is Associate Professor of Humanities at the Texas Tech University and Honorary Research Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland. His most recent book, Dying for Ideas: The dangerous lives of the philosophers, was published earlier this year.

first published here: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1558393.ece

May 21, 2015

pierre de vos on willem boshoff’s proudly racist

Filed under: art,politics,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 3:27 pm

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keep reading this review here: http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/at-the-venice-biennale-an-ugly-condescending-scream-on-the-wall/

a portrait of dina kuijers

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 3:10 pm


May 14, 2015

on picasso and money

Filed under: art,dick tuinder — ABRAXAS @ 4:36 am

“As for Picasso, it’s been recorded that he was a cheapskate, who didn’t like to spend his money if he could avoid it. So what he did was, whenever he wrote a check, he would draw a small doodle on it as well. This way, he hoped, the recipient would choose to keep a signed Picasso drawing, rather than actually cashing the check. In this way, everyone benefited; Picasso got to keep his money, and the recipient was able to sell the check for more than its face value.”


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