Celebrating the arrival of 2013 on New Year’s Eve, many people must have wondered why they still existed. Wasn’t the world supposed to end on December 21 with the Mayan apocalypse?
You don’t have to be a new age spiritualist to believe that the end of the world could have improved your circumstances. If you thought you were nearing a fiscal cliff, or if you really were entering hell itself with an Islamist soft coup, a well-placed apocalypse carries the promise of voiding all debts, so to speak: Rip up all the contracts and let’s start over! This is why the Mayan prediction was welcomed by so many who thought the apocalypse would actually redeem the world by giving some concrete form or recognition to an already existing state of collapse. While you might think you have a lot to lose when the world ends, you might have even more to gain.
But in the days after December 21, with the world still there and looking exactly the same, we saw the apocalypse shrink into a proverb: apparently the Mayan calendar only predicted the end of the world as we know it—a new beginning. But this makes some sense: the apocalypse is not always synonymous with death and annihilation, as Hollywood likes to have it. The term apocalypse actually means “revelation” and “clarity”—literally “un-covering” (ἀπό, apo, or “away from,” and καλύπτω, kalupto, or “to cover”). And this suggests that, rather than the end of time as such, the apocalypse actually reveals a new time, a new world.
As Hito Steyerl wrote in the April 2011 issue of e-flux journal, while you are in free fall, whole societies around you may be falling just as you are, and it may feel like perfect stasis—as if history and time have ended and you can’t even remember that time ever moved forward. And the sense that everything is collapsing under you may in fact come from the laws of gravity in the new world the Mayans predicted. And all of these disparate nosedives into oblivion will be revealed as having a totality, a clarity, and a face—even if there is no ground. I’ve already fallen off the fiscal cliff and I’ve never felt better—I’m finally free!
—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle
In this issue:
The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind—The End of Neonationalism: On The Comparative Certainty of Extraterrestrial Life and its Significance for Humankind (Earth and the Solar System Section)
Nearly 4.6 billion years ago, within a vast cloud of interstellar space, a small pocket of gas and dust collapsed under its own gravity and our solar system was born. As part of this system, our Earth is always in flux and is constantly remolded by powerful forces. These forces can often appear as sudden and unexpected phenomena.
Keti Chukhrov—Epistemological Gaps between the Former Soviet East and the “Democratic” West
But all those restrictions that we condemn in historical socialism have deeper roots; they do not stem simply from authoritarian limitations against freedom, but from different historical paradigms of emancipation that the socialist East, on the one hand, and the liberal capitalist West, on the other, adhered to.
Hito Steyerl—Freedom from Everything: Freelancers and Mercenaries
While today’s lance-for-hire takes on many different forms—from stone crushers, shovels, baby bottles, and machine guns to any form of digital hardware—the conditions of employment do not appear to have changed as dramatically as the lance itself. Today, that lance—at least in the case of writers—has most likely been designed by Steve Jobs.
Alan Gilbert—Allegories of Art, Politics, and Poetry
While some might argue that political indoctrination occurs via the state and its affiliate apparatuses, and others might claim that it happens through the corporate media, it’s clear that what’s been hijacked aren’t our thoughts per se but our desires. The service industry is predicated on capturing desire in a way that a manufacturing economy, with its checklist of items to buy, never was.
Zdenka Badovinac, Eda Čufer, Cristina Freire, Boris Groys, Charles Harrison, Vít Havránek, Piotr Piotrowski, and Branka Stipančić—Conceptual Art and Eastern Europe, Part II
One of the things that happened in 1967—I feel its almost that specific—is that once the central status of that modernist account of the history of aesthetics is put into question, a whole lot of practices, previously part of history albeit slightly invisible, become very visible again. Duchamp, Manzoni, Yves Klein become visible, as does early Morris. Then, people in the West start looking outside the mainstream, they start looking at Latin America, to the East, and everything opens up very fast. As if what history signifies becomes much messier and wider again, and the mainstream, basically controlled from New York, disappears. When you lose the mainstream you lose all your regulations, the sense of standards, paradigms—and you lose the concept of art.
The print edition of e-flux journal can now be found at:
Amsterdam: De Appel / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Athens: OMMU Århus: Aarhus Art Building Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Belgrade:Cultural Centre of Belgrade Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Monica / MACBA Basel: Kunsthalle Basel, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / do you read me? / Haus Der Kulturen der Welt/ NBK, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein / Pro qm Berlin and Zurich: Motto Bern: Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder Kunstverein Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon Gallery Bologna: MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna Bregenz: Kunsthaus Bregenz Bristol: Arnolfini Brussels: Wiels Bucharest: National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (MNAC) / Pavilion Unicredit Cairo: Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) / Townhouse Gallery Calgary: The New Gallery Cambridge: Wysing Arts Center Castello: Espai d´art contemporani de Castelló (EACC) Chicago: Graham Foundation / The Renaissance Society Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein Copenhagen: Overgaden Derry: CCA Derry~Londonderry Dubai: Traffic Dublin: Dublin City, The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre Dusseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum Farsta: Konsthall C Frankfurt: Städelschule / Portikus Gdansk: Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Łaźnia Genève:Centre de la photographie Ghent: S.M.A.K Giza: Beirut Glasgow: CCA Centre for Contemporary Arts / Sculpture Studios Graz: Grazer Kunstverein / Kunsthaus Graz / para_SITE Gallery Grijon: LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries Hamburg: Kunstverein Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA Hobart: CAST Gallery / INFLIGHT Hong Kong: Asia Art Archive Istanbul: BAS / CDA – Projects / DEPO / SALT Iași: theartstudent at the University of Fine Arts, Iași Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandet Art Museum Kansas City: La Cucaracha Press Klagenfurt: Press Kunstraum Lakeside Leeds: Pavilion Lisbon: Maumaus, Escola de Artes Visuais / Oporto / Kunsthalle Lissabon Loughborough: Radar, Loughborough University Ljubljana: Moderna Galerija LLandudno: Mostyn London: Architectural Association/Bedford Press / Gasworks / ICA / Serpentine Gallery/ The Showroom / Visiting Arts Los Angeles: REDCAT Luxembourg: Casino Luxembourg Madrid: Brumaria / CA2M / Pensart Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie Marfa: Ballroom Marfa Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art / World Food Books Mexico City: Proyectos Monclova Milan: Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Hangar Bicocca, Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes Gallery Minneapolis: Walker Arts Center Moncton: Fixed Cog Hero (a bicycle courier company) Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture Moscow: Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Munich: Museum Villa Stuck / Walther Koenig Bookshop, Haus der Kunst Munich New Delhi: Sarai CSDS New York: e-flux / Independent Curators International (ICI) / Printed Matter, Inc Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Oslo: Kunstnernes hus Oxford: Modern Art Oxford Padona: Fondazione March Paris: castillo/corrales – Section 7 Books / Centre Pompidou / Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers Philadelphia: Bodega Pori: Pori Art Museum Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves Portland: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, (PICA) / Publication Studio Prague: Dox Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina: Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina Providence: AS220 Reykjavik: Reykjavik Art Museum Riga: Kim? Rio de Janeiro: Capacete / A Gentil Carioca Rome: MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma / Opera Rebis Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute / Witte de With Saint-Nazaire: Le Grand Cafe, Centre D’art Contemporain Salzburg: Salzburger Kunstverein San Antonio: Artpace São Paulo: Kunsthalle São Paulo / Master in Visual Arts, Faculdade Santa Marcelina Sarajevo: Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Art Seoul: The Books / The Book Society Sherbrooke: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University Skopje: Press to Exit Project Space Sofia: ICA Sofia / Sofia Art Gallery St Erme Outre et Ramecourt: Performing Arts Forum St Louis: White Flag Projects Stockholm: Bonniers Konsthall / IASPIS / Index / Konstfack, University College of Art, Craft and Design Stuttgart: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart Sydney: Artspace Tallinn: Kumu Art Museum of Estonia The Hague: Stroom Den Haag Toronto: Mercer Union / The Power Plant Torun: Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Torun Toowoomba: Raygun Contemporary Art Projects Trieste: Trieste Contemporanea Umeå: Bildmuseet, Umeå University Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Valletta: Malta Contemporary Art Foundation Vancouver: ARTSPEAK / Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia / Fillip / Motto / READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design Vienna: Salon für Kunstbuch, Belvedere Gallery Vigo: MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo Vilnius: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vitoria-Gasteiz: Montehermoso Kulturunea Visby: BAC, Baltic Art Center Warsaw: Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki / Zachęta National Gallery of Art Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein (NKV) Yerevan: Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art, NPAK Zagreb: Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic / Gallery Nova / Institute for Duration, Location and Variables, DeLVe Zurich: Postgraduate Program in Curating, Zürich University of the Arts / Shedhalle / White Space.