Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
February 01, 2015 - May 24, 2015
In 1902, Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement was published by J.H.W. Dietz in Stuttgart. Traditionally, this text has been considered the key stone of what would be later known as Leninism. The pamphlet has been criticized for unfolding Lenin’s concerns about the workers’ movement and underlining their political incapacity. Lenin advocates for a political party, a vanguard, which would be the key instrument to lead social fights beyond the boundaries of mere economical struggles, and to drive the working class towards Marxism.
"The basic mistake made by those who now criticize What Is to Be Done? is to treat the pamphlet apart from its connection with the concrete historical situation of a definite, and now long past, period in the development of our party." Lenin, written in September 1907, in the Preface to the Collection Twelve Years published by Zerno Book Publishers.
In 1984, Gonzalo Díaz (visual artist, Santiago de Chile, 1947) and Justo Pastor Mellado (independent curator, Concepción, Chile, 1949) published the pamphlet ¿Qué Hacer? Protocolo 1 (What Is To Be Done? Protocol One) in Santiago de Chile. This second What Is to Be Done? was produced for an exhibition of Gonzalo Diaz at Galería Sur.
Professor Lars T. Lih published the 880-pages book Lenin Rediscovered: What Is To Be Done? In Context, in 2008. In this work, Lih challenges the traditional readings of Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? Relying on a new accurate translation of some polemical terms and, also, a historical contextualization of those concepts and ideas used by Lenin at that time, Lih claims that what lies at the core of Lenin’s text is Political Freedom. Lih, against the grain, reads What Is To Be Done? as an optimistic and confident text on the workers’ movement and also shows Lenin’s admiration for the German Social Democracy. Lih’s translation “demolishes the shared liberal and Stalinist myth of Leninism as an ice-cold ideology of professional and opportunistic revolutionary organization”.
THE ACT (2015) has been published after two months of research in Stuttgart. It is shaped as an axiom. An axiom is a premise or starting point of reasoning. A proposition considered evident and accepted without demonstration. The Act derives from an Anarchistory of Action. Anarchistory is the history of what inexists. It is the history of what has no name. The history of what has no fixed abode.
From the Latin word actus, an act is related to an action, which is the capacity of doing something. An act is what has been done, which is why someone can be accountable for it. An act is a display of behavior, a form through which something expresses itself. An act can also mean the action of pretending to be, the act of performing another body. Legally speaking, an act means the resolution of a political decision. A formal or official record of something done.
There exists the act of faith, the act that demonstrates or tests the strength of someone’s belief or conviction. The act of faith lies in an action without question, without doubt. Originally, the act of faith referred to the sentencing and execution of heretics during the Inquisition. That is why the act of faith had to be a public act, an act effectuated before the crowd. A public act exhibits itself as a form of fidelity to its own statement. Despite presenting publicly an idea as a concrete form of reality, the act remains invisible to the frames of intelligibility in place.
The act of terror is the one using violent means to state an idea publicly. The act of war is an action that overtly defies an agreement through the means of an aggression.
An act is a fact, an event that has taken place. An event that has appeared.
9/11 1973, the Palace of the Chilean Government, known as La Moneda, is bombarded. The President Salvador Allende Gossens talked to his staff, convincing them to leave La Moneda. They went out through the door known as Morandé 80. Outside, the military were waiting. They were took prisoners. The President committed suicide as an act of defiance and resistance.
During the Palace’s reconstruction under Pinochet’s dictatorship, it was decided to eliminate the door. In fact, Morandé 80 was not a main entrance, but a side door. Its existence was engraved that obscure day. But the door was also important as a kind of symbol of the president’s figure in Chilean democracy: through that door, the presidents of Chile could enter and exit, existing like any other citizen, without pomposity. In 2003, the door was rebuilt and reopened through a performative political act. The president at that time, Ricardo Lagos, walked alone from the Palace’s main entrance to Morandé 80, where he stood, before opening the door again. This symbolical gesture was an act through which the weak democracy intended to restore (H)history. At the end, besides the precarious theatricality, it remains as an empty event.
In what is known as Philosophy of Action, the action, and therefore the act, supposes an intention, even when it operates at the level of the spontaneous.
An agent acts because there is an interest to do it. The reasons for acting seem to define the act’s features. So if the reasons are exposed, then we have the intention of the act and its meaning. But what if the act searches, as its inner intention, to deactivate that sense? What if the act in itself happens without being noticed? Action is different than something that happens, precisely because of the purpose the agent embeds in it. The act is directed by the agent, which is finally responsible, and accountable, for the nature of the act.
“To become conscious is to be able to act in a new way.”
THE ACT is a force-form. It inexists. It is an act with a low level of appearance. It has the intensity of the almost nothing. Unnoticed, the act disperses itself in its appearing, disseminating itself towards void. It establishes a state of almost inconsistency, at the edge of the banality of being. An act of thinking. As such, its place of being is not those of the occurrence, but rather of the out-of-place, the offside. It subtracts through the physicality of its own event. There, at the point of the act, it is said that a time is also born. A supplementary time. A time as excess, even if that excess happens at the level of the inexistent, an excess of almost nothing.
Within the obsolescent timing of the black sun, the act happens within this world in its permanent state of emergency; within permanent war; within this permanent state of catastrophe, of persecution; within a timeless state of extermination. A dark time indeed. Those of the closure. The time of ashes.
An act. An act.
“Only nothing, strictly speaking, can be presented as not one, or as pure multiplicity.”
The time of the inexistent happens as a force. A time that folds itself. Its politics is its force-form of measurement. It forces the ruling time.
Unable of being captured or fixed, every productive documentation would only be a declension of its own vanishing state. There is not signal, no indicium in the act itself. Afflicted by a lack of sense, its disposability is burnt.
Elusive at the expense of its own stagnation, the act clears itself from the worldly background and refigures itself at the out-of-place. Elusive, the act remains, not being there anymore.
The intensity of the act defines its visibility. The act institutes. The act is the measurement of a new place. A place that has been forced-formed by the inexistence of the act.
Inexistence is a degree of appearance within a given situation.
The absence of the act is factually the act in its total presentation.
An absence that doesn’t belong to what is not there. An absence being there as the absence itself of itself.
THE ACT is then left as a unity of dissemination. A unity that only exists as such to dissolve itself. As an imaginary operation of unity, a fiction which declares its own precarious condition, THE ACT can be described not only by the negativity of its form but also by the affirmative field of forces in tension it produces, by the variable intensities involved in its appearing. Plural in its vanishing condition, THE ACT happens within a state of urgent measures.
The theory of Measurement studies how numbers are assigned to objects and phenomena. Every general theory of measurement must come to grips with three basic problems: error; representation, which is the justification of number assignment; and uniqueness, which is the degree to which the kind of representation chosen approaches being the only one possible for the object or phenomenon in question.
“2 This distance makes of artistic creation an act in the Lacanian sense, a neither legitimate nor illegitimate, abysmal deed without reason and without justification. The act as a creatio ex nihilo essentially includes that it remains related to the “abyss in reality”, the hole in being, i.e. to nothingness. Cf. Jacques Lacan, Die Ethik der Psychoanalyse, Das Seminar Buch VII, Weinheim / Berlin 1996, p. 143. Cited: Lacan, Die Objektbeziehung, Das Seminar Buch IV, Vienna 2003, p. 23. The “hole of being” is Sartre’s formula for “nothingness”. Cf. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, London 2006, p. 103. On the relationship Sartre / Lacan cf. Andreas Cremonini, Die Durchquerung des Cogito. Lacan contra Sartre, Munich 2003.”
The ACT has never taken place. It inexists out-placed, inconsistent, unpresentable, hovering as a moth drawing into dust a composition of the void.
 Symposium on Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered, Historical Materialism Volume 18, 2010. https://redatlanta.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/symposium-on-lars-lih-with-title-page-final.pdf
 Taylor, Charles (2010) Hegel and the Philosophy of Action in Hegel on Action, edited by Arto Laitinen and Constantine Sandis, Palgrave Macmillan Publishers, 29.
 Hallward, Peter (2003) Badiou a Subject to Truth, University of Minnesota Press, 65
 Steinweg, Marcus, 52nd Lecture at the Gramsci Monument, The Bronx, NYC: 21th August 2013 THE TRUTH OF ART http://www.diaart.org/gramsci-monument/52.pdf
THE ACT has been possible thanks the support of:
Württembergischen Kunstverein Stuttgart
HANGAR Centro de Arte