Docu: Tegenlicht

Hi Everyone!

Do check out this Tegenlicht documentary.
About the relationship between Art and Activism. And the ethical questions that come up in the Art world today regarding its intimate relationship with capital.
Most of it is in English.

Let us know what you think!

Best wishes,


3 thoughts on “Docu: Tegenlicht

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Charlie!

    Especially interesting to me are the foci on Assemble and Sonic Arts, where social practice art, with its related community-ecology engagement, articulated itself as a necessarily emergent and dynamic art form. While I do not altogether agree with Timothy Morton’s separation of the epistemological functions of art (and philosophy) and science in this episode, I find that his account of hyperobjects helpfully close to Latour’s purification and translation theses in _We Have Never Been Modern_:

    “The more we know, the harder it is to make a one-sided decision about anything. As we enter the time of hyperobjects, Nature disappears and all the modern certainties that seemed to accompany it. What remains is a vastly more complex situation that is uncanny and intimate at the same time.

    There is no exit from this situation. Thus the time of hyperobjects is a time of sincerity: a time in which it is impossible to achieve a final distance toward the world. But for this very reason, it is also a time of irony. . . . What things are and how they seem, and how we know them, is full of gaps, yet vividly real. Real entities contain time and space, exhibiting nonlocal effects and other interobjective phenomena, writing us into their histories. Astonishingly, then, the mesh of interconnection is secondary to the strange stranger. The mesh is an emergent property of the things that coexist, and not the other way around. For the modernist mind, accustomed to systems and structures, this is an astounding, shocking discovery. The more maps we make, the more real things tear through them.”

    ~ Timothy Morton, “The End of the World”, in his _Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World_, 130.

    No wonder social practice and public art are gathering momentum again in this second decade of the 21st century…

    For those of us interested in how art critically frames reality to expose ocularcentrism and normative ways of seeing, do enjoy this episode of Art21 featuring artists in Vancouver, Canada:



  2. I just watched the documentary and found it very interesting, and also a bit disturbing. Especially interesting was Renzo Marten’s statement that the goal of the project was to reproduce the status quo before (that’s how I understood it) you can critize it. In some way, this resembles the method of writing philosophy: before you are able to criticize someone else’s work, you need to present it as convincingly as possible. The question then becomes whether it is morally permissible to use a village and its inhabitants, as means to criticize structural inequalities. Especially the moment when Martens explicitly argued that some man needed to move “because that is necessary to attract capital”, intuitively felt very wrong – though that’s probably the reaction Martens is looking for.

    Unfortenately, I can’t open the videoclip from Vancouver. I get the following error: “We’re sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to right restrictions.”.


  3. From a social practice point of view, art and social change come hand-in-hand as the classical focus of aesthetics (centred on aesthetic pleasure and the question “What is beautiful?”) shifted in the last century to the ontology of art (“What is art?”, “What constitutes art?”, “What does/can art do?”, and other central questions in the philosophy of art). Provocation can unsettle norms by re-tuning our sensibilities and sensitivities to expose dominant ways of seeing, thinking, and behaving (cf. Ranciere) in much of our current ocular-centric, globalised, neo-liberal context. Provocation can also, as it came to pass in the U.S. a few days ago, entrench political divisions and solidify friend-enemy distinctions (cf. Schmitt). The advantage of artistic provocation lies in its invitation for plural interpretations, such that its subversive potential, because un(der)stated, needs to be activated by the spectator. Power to the spectactor!

    About Martens’s project: perhaps we can also interpret the deliberate restatement of the conditions of global capitalism as a way to reaffirm that a condition that can be re-enacted can also be un-enacted. Bystanders and critics who lament local and global crises but do not feel empowered to change them might be shaken out of their despondence and resignation when they feel disturbed and angry by the absurdity and futility of one artist’s seemingly misplaced priorities–if one person can reproduce a problematic set of economic / political / social / moral relations, it can possibly be undone by others. The artistic (re)production of super-structural relations (cf. Marx and Engels) admits plural responses and reactions, unlike and against the forces of late capitalism.

    And take two for those of us on the flipside of the pond: below are some highlights of the Art21 Vancouver episode.

    Liz Magor:
    Brian Jungen:
    Stan Douglas:
    Jeff Wall:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s