Nathaniel Mellors, The Nest. HD film, 8′; installation view at Un’ Espressione Geografica at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. 2011

The Nest

Noam Segal

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Viewing Nathaniel Mellors’ works is a particularly unsettling experience. Mellors, born in 1974, has an MA from the Royal College of Arts in London and lives and works in London and Amsterdam, creates intelligently infantile characters, as intelligent as their acting skills let them seem to be undergoing a metamorphosis. Becoming, whether becoming something particular, another person, an animal or an object, occurs in his work through acting, performance tools and speech acts. However, his idea of an imitation ability and mesmerism, are different from becoming. I would like to analyze both of these aspects in his work and discuss their characteristics.

“The Nest”[1] begins with shimmers of the sun that sparkle against the camera lens; the couple, seen in the next frame, are walking along the length of a pool; Renaissance sculptures stand by the poolside in a large garden at the foot of a large palace. The couple, who have a middleclass accent, seem unrelated to the grand, historic environment. Yet, before delving into their dialogue, I wish to linger a moment on the set. The place seems familiar from pictures of royal and upper-class families .Yet again, it remains unclear what the couple strolling nonchalantly in the gardens have to do with the setting.

Taussig deals with the spatial aspect that enables the mimetic ability. He develops Benjamin’s idea and suggests that the functionality of thought is like that of a theatre – a configuration which is inclined to certain objects and to rehearsal in different locations, that give rise to this impulse; practice in the sense that thought exists in their spaces as imaginary scenarios, in which the self “cascades toward otherness”[2]. This plummet toward otherness is reminiscent of Deleuze’s becoming on which I will elaborate later. Taussig mentions Caillois’ writings[3], which dealt with the fact that a body that mimics is tempted by the space in which it is. He suggests that some people do not feel as though they belong or do not feel comfortable in a particular space; he diagnoses the phenomenon with a scientific term, and argues that the psychological process that takes place is an external examination of the self in a spatial situation, a sort of reflection in which the person becomes the space that surrounds him. In this process, the person creates an interior, a mental space, within which is an area of irregular bodily movements, contractions that are involuntary or voluntary, sudden, and are not always controlled. He describes a situation in which the unfamiliar space reduces the imitative capability to null, an empty theater in which the psyche gets a stage of its own for acting and becoming another. He suggests a presence that is inherently related to space, in which the ability to imitate is expressed as a sudden movement or an unexpected contraction. Taussig argues that the relation to spatial perception incorporates a substantial element of theatricality. One can think of space at the beginning of the work as such a space that allows the involuntary contractions that we will see in the next scene. As mentioned above, what is surprising about Cailloisspace is the relation to space, but moreover, his description of the imitation skill as an involuntary movement or physical shrinkage. It’s not a conscious or acquired imitation, but rather an act characteristic of molecular becoming.

The dialogue between the couple begins with the man, who the woman calls “Bobby,” saying that he has an idea for a movie. The camera, as stated, is the first mimetic machine. Cameras, whether still or film, have, throughout history, been mimetic, and are identified with this act more than with any other device. Taussig calls them “Mimetic Machines”[4] and explains how the camera developed an economy of mimesis, of the perception of otherness that stabilized a state system and served as a tool of control by the dominant hegemony; as a receptacle that transfers the perception of reality, behavior and ideology. Hegemony uses the imitative ability of mimetic machines to create a “second nature”[5] that allows citizens other forms of identification and individuation. However, each of these forms is part of an already existing order, a fixed system of power relations and politics of identities. This ancient practice is translated in the sovereign state into reality, by annexing the strength and character of the original and then giving them up for reproduction, thus representing the power of the represented. This ancient action existed in primitive cultures in which the imagination, drawing and possession of a spirit in a particular object was considered as an amulet for protection. The imitation of the spirit, its elevation and embodiment in an object invoked grounds for the elimination of the spirit’s virtues and threats[6]. Later I will show how Mellors’ actors adopt such primitive practices.

The movie that Bobby suggests, will show the story of a gang that goes on a road trip and stops for a hitchhiking monkey. This narrative is very similar to Clint Eastwood’s film “Every which way but loose,” from 1978. Eastwood received mocking reviews for his participation in such a silly comedy. The woman remembers the film and reminds Bobby that his idea is very similar. Bobby, on his part, says that in his film there would be a real monkey. The girl explains – Eastwood’s film also had a real monkey (which is true) and Bobby insists that it was actually an actor in a very good monkey suit. He later explains that in his film there will be a magic monkey, who can talk.

Taussig delineates how ancient cultures adopted certain characters and ascribed them with features that did not belong to them, whether they were animals or the White Man. They turned them into statues and worshiped them. He demonstrates this theory on the Cuna society which rejected figurines of the civilized white man in Western clothing. He asks why there was magic (they believed that real magic existed in these figures) in a statue of the white man made by an Indian tribe, which sings in a language that the white man himself does not understand. He depicts the image of a white man who unwittingly undergoes objectification, while the locals themselves have no knowledge of the extent of his knowledge, or lack thereof[7]. But the locals believe that this is how magic is made[8].

The dialogue between the characters describes a primitive process similar to that at the root of Taussig’s research. It is about a movie that was already made. It is an imitation of an existing film. As far as Bobby is concerned, the money in the original film is not real. Meaning, he has a false and wrong idea about the film. He wants to film this movie with a real monkey that will talk in the film. Regarding this, the woman tells him, with the shrill of discovery “but Bobby, real monkeys cannot talk,” and he replies “I know, is it not amazing? We’ll have a magic monkey,” thus revealing the analogy he has made between the monkey’s ability to speak and a human quality, which therefore ascribes magic to the ability. The monkey that will act a monkey and will talk, is a mimetic animal that embraces an imitative ability and the other’s behavior, sinking into the other’s imagined personality traits. On a descriptive level of the discussion, it is not becoming, but rather imitating – teaching the monkey how to speak. The girl suggests that a man will play the monkey, and Bobby responds: “like in Clint Eastwood’s movie,” despite the fact that they had already discussed the topic and concluded that the character was not a monkey in the film. Bobby is taken by this idea.

Bobby himself is acting like a monkey, as if he was re-experiencing the moment of having the idea, though he had seen the movie and they had spoken about it a moment before. Here begins a process of becoming, of differentiation and repetition, yet returning to another essence. This happens parallel to Taussig ‘s discussion, and in line with his theses, the dialogue makes the ancient roots of the mimetic ability attended, in their most primal form. Worship of a beast that is not understood by the discussion group, (as the white man is to the Indians, the monkey is to us) and the discussion is its idealization (either in the form of a statue or by making it the star of a movie) as its character is misunderstood and appropriates faith (either in the form of a statue or by a human mimetic ability) serves as a talisman for humanity. Bobby talks about how the monkey will affect people who, in return, “will go crazy” about him. When she suggests the idea that a monkey will play the monkey, he agrees and sinks into a daze, as if sleepwalking. She in turn, continues to pull him along, in aggressive strokes, as if she was walking a dog.

In this scene we see two parallel processes: The first is the oral discourse that bequeaths the early uses of the mimetic ability; the second is the process of becoming that begins to permeate Bobby. Yet the oral discussion contains an element of becoming.

On Becoming and its literal sense:
According to Deleuze, Becoming is a dynamic movement in which the release of particles, molecules, forces and tendencies affect the other and these come into being together. It is not remembering but rather drifting after tendencies, in the formation of indiscriminate areas, lacking a distinct category. This is an area with no ontological distinctions and is characterized by productive forgetfulness.
This indistinctive region is validated through language; through the distribution as indicated by Azoulay and Ophir[9]. In the division of being and becoming, the three linguistic structures – denotation, manifestation and signification, have a closed and hermetic sense. As opposed to them, there is sense, a sense which eludes these structures, which is becoming, which is an event, it is dynamic and open. It has a surplus that exceeds the stiff dimension of punctuation. According to Ohad Zehavi, sense is the dimension in the phrase that refers only to itself and not to anything external; it is a self-reference alone[10]. Zehavi goes on to explain that the sense remains or is present in the phrase and does not merge with it.

It is an ambivalent feature, two-sided, one of which refers to the words that it expresses and the other which refers to things which the words relate to. Sense is the place of indecision, ie the lack of distinction between words and things, between speakers and concepts. Indecision leads the phrase to its limits, (the act of stretching, fusion and envelopment) and thus, to the event’s singularity. This is, according to Zehavi, Becoming in language, which enables the appearance of the unfamiliar, the new, the non-defined, indecision and singularity. Singularity evades regularity, it is distinct from entities, activities and every substantive state of affairs; it is a pure event, a disembodied effect as proposed by Zehavi, “which is present on the surface that separates words from things”[11]. If so, becoming in a literal verse is a singular event.

The dialogue between Bobby and the girl is pointless and meaningless; whether by examining the speakers and their placement in the scene, their intonation, tone of voice, laugh as opposed to idiocy and playing, whether through the references the words refer to, as well as through the various words and repetitions. True and false values are also unclear in this situation. Bobby knows that a monkey did not act in Eastwood’s movie, while we all know that one did, and later when the topic is raised a second time, he already knows the truth but still holds the belief that a man acted as the monkey. At the same time, the girl decisively tells Bobby that real monkeys cannot talk. There is a tone of infantilism in their discourse, and it is unclear if they are speaking nonsense or simply stupid. Not understanding what is being said, and the indecision leads the phrase to its limits, according to Zehavi. A verbal “incident” occurs, in which the use of words creates strange sense, which exceeds hermetic meaning.

Part Two – Becoming animal
The scene opens with Bobby’s legs running vigorously in place. His face is contorted, he is sweating, he looks scared and reveals a range of expressions of fear, insecurity, flight etc. He runs without progress and looks exhausted. It seems as though he is spellbound and his personality has abandoned him; the film is of a garden, such as the classic royal gardens which had a maze with walls built of shorn shrubs. Bobby is running between two partitions, one is ahead of him and one is behind him; he is allegedly stuck, but any intelligent person could have seen that taking a step to the right would put him on a path that leads somewhere. But Bobby continues running for his life, on the spot. This setting is characterized in many movies (ex. Dracula, Edward Scissor hands, Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden) as an arena of madness and zany situations. The camera occasionally shows the figurative sculptures that adorn the garden – statues of female figures who were once role models of beauty (which relates to Taussig’s thesis). At first we see the girl filmed from a distance, and then we only get glimpses of her. The cinematic editing presents her running like a wild animal chasing its prey. Her running is threatening and the background noises are of a scary beast (Baaaa, etc.). A full body shot exposes her distorted face (an animalistic and scary face), and her hands are folded like the claws of a predator. At this point she moves in slow motion, like a monster moments before it reaches its victim. She also looks spellbound, or in a mad rage. While Bobby appears frightened and sweating, threatened and scared, she plays the part of the beast, and displays all relevant gestures – she really becomes an animal. When she reaches him, she shows him her claws, and he, as mentioned, freezes in place and falls asleep. She looks directly at the camera, and as though waking from the hallucinatory state she was in, she is transformed back into the girl she was before. Bobby has fallen asleep standing up and the camera pans over the garden, pausing on the statues glittering in the sunlight.

Upon my attempt to analyze the acting in the situation, I noticed that it is not a reflective act on one or another acting method, but an actual becoming, showing the assimilation and coming into being of an animal. This is becoming an animal. This is minor becoming.

Nathaniel Mellors, The Nest, installation view at COBRA Museum, COBRA Art Prize, Amstelveen (NL). 2011

Minor and becoming
A minor state is not static, but dynamic. It is not being or property, but becoming, a trend. Man does not exist in a minor state, but he becomes minor. Minority, you might say, is diminishing. The concept of “becoming” or “creation” joins the concept of “minority”, and both becoming and minority give the term “minor” internal consistency. Every becoming, stress Deleuze and Guattari, is becoming-minor [12]. One is never minor in his very being, meaning, he is not a minor Being, but he becomes minor, he is created. Actual reality is a major reality, conducted by regular patterns and stationary. A minor state is a movement from actual to virtual to potential. In the potential space nothing is fixed or set.

Becoming is described as a drift, slide or severance. The singular event requires a certain detachment from past perceptions, because memory summons old concepts. In becoming-animal, the animal minor is yet another model that allows us to be released, if only for a moment, from the major, aggressive living conditions[13]. Thus we need to challenge the mastery relationship that characterizes man’s attitude to the animal, and the relations between animal to animal. Animalistic minor is a molecular minor, and it requires the shedding of perceptions that bracket the subject, in favor of currents and waves that come over it. The bark, for example, is not an imitation of a barking dog – it exists within the vocal cords, billowing in speech[14]: You can domesticate it, that is, to eliminate it in favor of a speech cut, and you could surf it, as one surfs on a wave, and thus disconnect from the withering order of language in favor of unpredictable becoming. It may be possible, therefore, to give the animal a political voice. Minor politics produces a zone in which man and animal are indiscriminate.

The section in question does not seem like an imitation of an animal, but rather assimilation, sliding into the animalistic figure. The manner in which Mellors chooses to end this section, with the girl’s “awakening” from her state of trance, and Bobby’s aneshetization, indicates that we are not dealing with imitation. Mellors wishes to show us becoming. He is interested in creating an area lacking any differentiation, as he did in the senseless discussion displayed in the previous section. Sense, as a singular event, and the process Bobby sinks in to, converge at this moment. Both of their becoming is to “become animal”.

Let me briefly return to Taussig. His preoccupation with the ability to imitate is conscious and rational, either by an impersonation that wishes to adopt certain qualities, to pretend, or by the state or another entity. However, Taussig notes that Benjamin and his perception of mimeses also assigns an event with singular properties (which do not necessarily correspond to the perception of emulation)[15]. He notes the essential role of negation in shaping the final result of assimilation in otherness[16]. Negation (as a product of patriarchal perception or its being a commodity with Marxist features) is that which is responsible for the partiality and instability of the final assimilation in otherness. The mimetic assimilation will, according to Benjamin and Taussig, forever swing along the edge of stability. It will almost entirely be restless, composed of sensory fragments, and may even produce an unstoppable metamorphic replication[17].

I would like to return to Deleuze’s definition of becoming, in order to refine the similarity between the fields – dynamism, the release of forces and tendencies of one thing affects the other and the formation of indiscriminate areas that are characterized by manufactured forgetfulness. It becomes clear that the characteristic of movement and dynamism, a metamorphosed duplication equivalent to manufactured forgetfulness, and the lack of distinction that corresponds to fragments of the sensor, clarify a discussion field that is in between mimetic assimilation and becoming.

Part III – the discussion and becoming object

We see the actor who played Bobby, but he is no longer Bobby. He appears to be an educated white man who is in his studio that opens up to a yard. It seems to be his work space (herein the professor). He is surrounded by dozens of ceramic vases of various size, most of them have no plants in them. He is in the center, he has one spectacle on one eye, and two sets of eyebrows on his forehead. He picks one vase up and gently presses sand in it, and then places it on a bigger vase, in the center; like a small altar. He unwraps nylon wrapping a statue of tiny man made out of Murano glass. He gently plants the statue in the uppermost vase. The glass doll looks like small white man, except for its head, which looks like an orange disc. The circle looks like some sort of fruit or vegetable (maybe an apple, orange or tomato). You could say that it is a small scarecrow made of glass. The professor tightens the sand around the doll and waters it gently. The girl appears in the background, and looks like an overgrown child entering the studio in clumsy dancing steps.

They begin a dialogue in which they zigzag between different accents and pronunciations (heavy British, Italian, and speech corresponding to the vowel I. During their conversation, the girl asks three times about the kind of biscuits he gave her. The first answer is that we call them crushed-fly biscuits, to which she answers that he looks great in them. The second answer is that they are the biscuit kind, to which she says that they are as tasty as he is, and he says that he is also very fond of them. The third answer is that they are my biscuits (meaning the Professor’s) and she replies that he is so smart.

By now, another pair of eyebrows has been added to his forehead. He tells her he wants to tell her about a terrible thing, a nightmare in which he dreamed that he was a profiterole, and as such he lived a terrible life. Then, suddenly a large white man appears. At this point she interrupts him for a third time and asks about the source of the biscuits. He launches into a long and self-important monologue in Italian. Another eyebrow appears on his forehead. At his request, the girl takes another biscuit and eats it eagerly, in an animalistic, even hedonistic manner, chewing ostentatiously with an open and full mouth. He returns to his binoculars while she tries to become an animal, like a child who wants to play at being an animal. This is done in differently from the former scene, in a tiring manner. He falls asleep.

In the last scene we see the same studio, but it is now empty of furniture. At the center of the room is a large clay pot and in it stands Bobby the professor (as an unidentified figure) in the same position that the glass doll he watered earlier stood. On the floor around the pot pieces of a type are fruit is scattered. The fruit looks like the head of the glass sculpture that was planted in the previous scene. The man is standing in the jug, plastic covering his face, and he is breathing. The camera zooms in on the plastic that is sucked in and then blown away from his face. He has become the statue, a glass scarecrow. He has become an object.

In the linguistic sense – following what has been said about sense in the previous chapter, performance utterances that are becoming are also clearly presented here. At the base of Austin’s[18] process, there is a distinction between constative speech acts and performative speech acts. The theoretic core of this distinction is the claim that while constative speech acts report facts and describe them, and are thus tested against the classic philosophical-linguistic criterion of truth and falsehood, acts of performative speech do not discuss facts, but create them, and are thus tested against criteria of success and failure. These criteria are summarized in Austin’s assertion that performative expression is successful only if “something is done by the person making the utterance as the moment of expression”[19]. This term of success allows extracting an initial, global definition of the enunciation as an expressive performance whose accent creates something at the moment it is uttered. The dialogue about the biscuits can be thought of as a performative act, but we shall see that it is meaningless, containing only-self reference, lacking words, things, speakers and concepts. This is how the sense of becoming in the literal verse in the previous chapter. The Professor and the girl engage in a dialogue of the deaf: She repeats the same questions several times, he gives her a different answer every time, and there is no concrete reference. Ex. “We call them squashed fly biscuits”, while it remains unclear who he is referring to when saying “we”; later, when she asks a second time he says “These are biscuits”, and his third and final answer is “These are my biscuits” – a performative act par excellence. Even her answers are performative acts, from – “I love you bobby”, “You are so handsome”, “You are so clever”, “You look handsome in them.” The sense here is stretched and wrapped around the steady elements of the sentence – the denotation, the signification, and the manifestation. They function on a performative basis, but the dialogue’s purpose remains a mystery, leaving the viewer with a fragmented understanding of nonsense.

Nathaniel Mellors, The Nest, 2011. Installation view at Cobra Museum, Amstelveen.

Subsequently, even the professor’s story about the dream, in which he wants to tell the girl “Something terrible happened to him” and then tells her that he dreamt he was a profiterole. He dreamt he was an object. But this was not what made the dream terrible, but rather when the big white man appeared. It is the end of the story that was also punctuated by the question regarding the biscuits. The end is not really an end of the story, but simply a performative act that leaves the story open-ended. She, in turn, is completely inattentive to his story. Another thought would raise the assumption that the big white man came along and ate the profiterole, just as the woman next to him eats the biscuits, the last one she eats with elated vigor. It seems as though the Professor’s attitude to the biscuit or the profiterole is one of empathy and solidarity,; he has developed a mimetic ability or some kind of connection with these objects. A connection based on emotions. A re-reading of his last response – These are my biscuits – will sharpen this point. He sees them as his sons, of a particular type of property ownership. But the dream will show us that the connection is much deeper than a relation of proprietary.

Becoming child

The woman looks as though she is within the process of becoming a child, indicated by her inconsistent, comical and infantile behavior. The minor, the adolescent, the child and even the baby – mark the existing human potential even before it settles in the adults’ major model. Becoming a child is therefore also a return: not a chronological return, which means going back in time, but an intensive return – the return of the minor potential that exists below the major reality in which we are trapped. The child therefore indicates an important channel of minor politics. Whereas the adult is trapped in the major order of things, becoming-child can allow him to escape, however briefly, from the arbitrary, yet organized power of the existing order. The adult’s becoming-child is a molecular becoming: This is not an adult’s recollection of the complete child he was, nor is it a recovery of the child, but rather an adult forgetting himself for a moment in favor of his vital infantile emotions trapped inside. The adult who surfs on the childish, savage wave, that divides and sweeps him away, is at once disconnected, if only for a second, from the major order in which he exists[20]. The viewers see the woman as a person without an organized, linear, consistent personality; at once she is seductive and a moment later she is a silly child and then she tried to be an animal (which still makes a child …). She repeats her questions, is not attentive of the serious partner in the conversation, her attention span is short and she is restless. This is how Mellors presents her.

Becoming sculptor

Taussig points to the roots of the mimetic ability as those whose beginning was entrenched in the ability to replicate and transfer the original image to its reproduction in the object. I mentioned in the first chapter how primitive cultures imagined and built sculptures out of the faith that the appropriation of the represented spirit in the statue would be transferred onto them. The talisman is made by the very worshiping and glorifying of the image of a certain character.

If we saw such an order preserved in the two previous sections – the object of admiration was a monkey who would adopt “power” from the civilized man, the power of speech – in this case the order is violated. The professor dreams he is an object. The professor tries to attribute the object’s characteristics to himself, and not the other way around. Moreover, Mellors begins the scene with the professor’s idolatry of the little doll. We see how the professor builds a small altar, waters it and cultivates the soil, to a point at which he emulates the doll. He himself stood in the same configuration in the huge pot and tries, like her, to become breathless, to become still. The order of imitation that Taussig raises is overturned in Mellors’ work. Instead of worshiping an external object and its cultivation in line with the major culture, the professor worships the object to a point at which he tries to become one. He tries to be absorbed in the form which he worships. Taussig explains that the replica[21] (the glass doll is a replica until the professor becomes a replica too) harbors spiritual powers in the eyes of the worshiper. The basic axiom regarding the use of replicas is that they are seen as having magical power, the replicated object acts as an extension of the natural. When the replication of life merges with a renewed grasp of the spirit within an object of worship, there is a new type of spell and for the believing subject, this entails a renewed hold on nature, the world. Benjamin[22] discusses the physical contact with the worshiped object and wrote that the thought of and the attachment to the object arise from touch, smell, taste, watering and any kind of containment. Such subject-object relation drives the imitator’s desire for self-transformation – just as it was with our professor. The glorified sculptures and objects in these primitive times functioned as emblems of power (this is also how the concept of state representation developed in sovereign countries)[23]. The mimetic practice was based on the production of these products and turning them into healing, spiritual, powerful and oftentimes even mystic objects.

Back to the opposite order that Mellors displays, I would like to mention the monkey from the first section of the video. Bobby talks about the monkey as an object of idealization, as the star of the movie, a monkey who will learn to talk – meaning, he will adopt a human trait. What we see at the end of the film, as I mentioned, is exactly the opposite: the civilized white man who at first worships an object and makes it an object of admiration and care (like Bobby does with the monkey) and later he becomes an object, through his attempt to adopt the object’s qualities. There is a relation between a monkey who will act as a speaking monkey, with a human trait, and a person who will act as an object with an inhuman feature. There is a cycle of repetition, yet this time, undermining the conventions is graver. It is not a simple act of becoming-animal and thus undermining the existing major order, but rather a striving against the very essence of a living creature: Turning into a flowerpot, an inanimate object. The imitation deteriorates by the minute. For the actors, white and developed people, begin with emulating and admiring animals, monkeys, and move on to flowerpots, objects, sculptures and dolls. There is ascension in the hierarchic order of the thinking and developed being as a subject of admiration, while their adoration rises, proportionally; from talking about to the attempt to become.

Having said that, what is Mellors trying to tell us, what is his social criticism, what is the political and ethical significance of imitations and the obscure, uncategorized and open-ended becoming? The major politics is based on specific and stable identities and on a total and closed social space. The range of options in this situation is limited in advance, as you may only grasp the different positions, move from one position to another and rearrange the power relationships within the enclosed and limited arena. According to Zehavi[24], minor politics (resulting from becoming-minor, becoming-infant, becoming-animal and any other form of becoming) allow the appeal of the identities themselves, break down the settings and fundamentally undermine the power relations by destroying the body’s-identities and settings that enable the exertion of force in the first place. This type of politics sees little point in fighting within the arena, and the inability to completely escape it. Instead, it dives near the edge of the political arena, to the fringe and minor characters, those who inhabit the edges, giving rise to becoming that constantly weaves and unravels the social experience. Deleuze and Guattari explicitly tie becoming-minor, in other words, the minor, to politics: “Becoming-minoritarian is a political affair and necessitates a labor of power (puissance), an active micro politics”[25].

From their discussion, according to Zehavi, it is possible, for example, to extract an implicit call for the adult to become-child, meaning to embody in his actions and his body the characteristics usually attributed to children, thus blurring the distinction between adults and children – a distinction that subordinates the latter to the power of the former. The adult’s becoming-child can create a zone of non-distinction between the adult and the “real” child and thereby negate the validity of norms that typically control the child and require his pre-recognition as a distinct category. This is an attempt to dissolve the rigid ontological distinction that enables policing and imposition of power. Such a performance is not an imitation of the external image of a child, nor is it remembering. It is a molecular metamorphosis, and it is subject to manufactured forgetfulness as mentioned earlier. Another sense of “performance” at work in the minor political philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari is the use of speech acts to repress and delimit. The practical effects that these spoken words have operate as tools of authority and strength. They turn a group into a distinct category, one which you can “mold” and impose norms.

Mellors presents us with these options; areas of indecision and differentiation, zigzagging language, behavioral slips, nonsensical uses of language, and alternating characters, lacking a distinct and steady personality. Perhaps, this is the ultimate minority: a minority that has not yet been defined, that has not yet been created. Ostensibly, such an argument pushes minor politics one step further: beyond the minorities that the politics of identity can identify, toward minorities that only a minor practice that deconstructs the omnipresent major order can reveal. It appears that this is the role Guattari and Deleuze ascribe to “minor literature”: “to express another possible community, and to forget the means for another consciousness and another sensibility,”[26] that is to create a “people that is still missing,” the people to come.” Minor literature fabricates the means for the establishment of future minority communities, whose features have not yet been identified; it produces another consciousness and another sensibility that turns the “natural order” around and allows the unusual people and singular voices to meet.

Perhaps this is Mellors’ ethical work that presents us with an indistinct area where singular personalities turn in us, in constant flux and active resistance to the hegemonic representational order.

Noam Segal is an art curator based in Tel Aviv. She holds a BA in philosophy and politics, MA in hermeneutics and currently a PhD student. She is the curator and founder of "Rothschild 69", a non-profit art space, she teaches at Bezalel Art Academy MFA program, and was also acting as content editor of Programma Art Magazine. Recently she curated a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and a solo show for artist Shahar Freddy Kislev. Her upcoming exhibitions include: A solo show for the artist Ulla Von Brandenburg at Herzeliya Museum of Contemporary Art; The actor, group show with Nathaniel Mellors, Emily Wardil, Sharon Hayes, Liz Magic Laser and more in Petah Tikva Museum, and a solo show for Anri Sala in Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

    [1] Nathaniel Mellors, Ourhouse – The Nest , 2011. HD video still, filmed at Villa Pisani in Turin, Italy.

    [2] Michael Taussig Mimesis and Alterity: A particular history of the senses pp 33.

    [3] Ibid pp 34.

    [4] Ibid pp xv

    [5] Second nature - according to Taussig this is a traditional mimetic concept of representation and imitation that is the state's major source of strength. The state blurs the distinction between the origin and the copy, and appropriates the cultural and social production to the point of their dispossession from the act of representation and its independent power. The actions in the cultural field were adopted by the political hegemony, the first becomes the second, secondary; the real thing is really political – this is the infrastructure, the state is first in the symbolic order, it is the source of normality from which all else arises. This action is referred to by Taussig as the "second nature" appropriated by the state.

    [6] Ibid pp 1

    [7] Taussig is with the Indian tribe (during a research trip) and finds himself singing a hymn to a doll of himself; he is his own object of research (like a doll or a statue which one worships) and the hymn he sand to the doll representing him is not clear to him. He has no idea what is being said.

    [8] Ibid pp 5-6.

    [9] Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir, The contraction of being: Deleuze after Badiou, The journal of the unconscious, pp. 107-120, 2001.

    [10] Zehavi, Ohad. A Logical Novel- Gilles Deleuze In-Between Philosophy and Literature. Resling, Tel Aviv 2005, PP 21

    [11] Ibid pp 43.

    [12] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and 1 .Schizophrenia. Brian Massumi (trans.), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 291.

    [13] More on this in Ohad Zehavi's article 'Minority" in the Lexical Review of Political Thought Mafte'akh, published by Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University.

    [14] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus. pp 274-275.

    [15] Michael Taussig Mimesis and Alterity: A particular history of the senses pp 36.

    [16] The motif of negation developed as a part of a discussion that confronted Hegel's dialectics.

    [17] Ibid pp37.

    [18] J L. Austin. How to do things with words. 2nd ed. /edited by J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà. Cambridge, Mass. ,Harvard University Press, 1975.

    [19] Ibid  pp 60.

    [20] More on this in Ohad Zehavi's article 'Minority" in the Lexical Review of Political Thought Mafte'akh, published by Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University.

    [21] Michael Taussig Mimesis and Alterity: A particular history of the senses pp 2.

    [22] Ibid.

    [23] Ibid pp 7.

    [24] Ohad Zehavi in the article 'Minority" in the Lexical Review of Political Thought Mafte'akh, published by Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University.

    [25] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, pp 292.

    [26] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. translation by Dana Polan ; foreword by Reda Bensmaia, Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1986 pp 18-19.

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    Austin, John Langshaw. How to do things with words. 2nd ed. /edited by J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1975, Ibid  pp 60

    Azoulay, Ariella and Adi Ophir, The contraction of being: Deleuze after Badiou, The journal of the unconscious, pp. 107-120, 2001 Benjamin, Walter. Selected writings / Walter Benjamin ; edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,  1996

    Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus, Brian Massumi (trans.), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987

    Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. translation by Dana Polan ; foreword  Reda Bensmaia, Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1986 pp 18-19 Taussig, Michael. Mimesis and Alterity: A particular history of the senses, London, Rouldge, 1993

    Zehavi, Ohad. A Logical Novel- Gilles Deleuze In-Between Philosophy and Literature. Resling, Tel Aviv 2005, PP 21

    'Minority" in the Lexical Review of Political Thought Mafte'akh, published by Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
SACI Florence Italy
Emily Carr
St. John\'s University