[This text was first published in 1998 in the Moscow Art Magazine N°22 <http://www.guelman.ru/xz/english/XX22/X2214.HTM>.
© 1998 - Alexander Brener / Moscow Art Magazine N°22 <http://www.guelman.ru/xz/362/XX22/X2201.htm>]
25 March 1998
Today I want my voice to get stronger, the voice of the third world artist. I need my voice to be heard. It should be heard not because it brings any news, some fresh truth, not because it promises new opportunities or inspires some incomprehensible anxiety. No, my voice should be heard because if it is not heard now, it won't be heard at all. We live in a time whose only assignment is acceleration, outstripping itself and forgetting everything that does not belong to this acceleration. A third world artist does not belong to the acceleration. This artist belongs to something else - a pitiful shout of helplessness, good-for-nothing lyrics of the abandoned, hopeless cry for help, hoarse yell of indignation.
"What is this third world artist?" - you will ask me. "Which third world are you talking about? There is no second world, is there?"
Yes, I will answer, the second world - the world of ungifted, clinical, weak-minded socialism - does not exist, while the third world is still around. It is the world of fragmented obscurantism, the world of old technologies, the world of indigent market, the world that has suffered the catastrophe of communal ideology, the world of semi-decayed ethic and aesthetic rags. This world does not belong to the West, East, North or South. It is everywhere. It is localized in a great number of spaces, as a torn scrappy blanket, which covers the gorgeous overripe body of modern neo-liberalism. The third world is the world of despised discourses and wasted hot flesh outbursts, spit and sperm in the poor districts of Mexico City and Brooklyn, in the Viennese Turkish ghetto and in the heart of Moscow. This excited, tongue-tied, pimple-faced third world also needs an artist. How else could it be? Then why can't I be this artist and explain to you what kind of unpleasant art he is trying to create?
As you certainly know, the third world artist is a product of the first - advanced, capitalist - world, and it is a product of the second - socialist -, which collapsed and vanished in thin air. The third world artist is a kid, the fruit of a monstrous parental coitus, who has appeared on an overfilled dump for god knows what reasons. Who threw him there? His father, a scoundrel? Or his mother, a bitch? The baby can't guess, unless clever uncles from the Sorbonne and Harvard help it. But if they do not? Then, well, bless them - we'll take care of ourselves.
The fact is that the uncles from Princeton and Heidelberg have already helped and taught, as well as the poets-experimenters from Paris and London and avant-garde artists from Zurich and New York. It is they who explained to the poor third world kid that culture is a great power and force, that art does not only reflect reality, but also transforms it, that art is a brutal war, and its banners read: "Negation! Freedom! Analysis! Revolution! Resistance!" And the poor kid started swinging a crooked little saber and prancing a wooden horse. The bastard took it all literally, the weak little doom. But it is the kind of consciousness that we have in the third world, the minds of minds we have - trustful and non-reflective, naive and not too smart, cunning at best. How do you expect us to make an analysis?!
Acting as though by the recipes of theorists and practical workers from the western "land of the holy stone," the third world artist got himself into a terrible heresy, created lots of trouble and made foolish declarations. But what is most important is that he was playing out of tune. He was seeking the truth being an in-born liar, demanded justice while realizing that mercy is more important, spoke about love when scare was ruling his heart. He confused success with significance, but it is the same in the first world! He rebelled, while caring about a review in a magazine, but everyone around is the same! What can you expect of a faintly educated third world artist, except for childish tricks, terrible yells and cursing? What else can an ill-bred, wriggling teenager offer? He can offer nothing.
But at the same time, I, the third world artist, reject all respected virtues and offers of this big successful world. I reject it all, because I don't believe in it, despise it and am bored of it. I reject the intellectual snobbery and the institutional well-being which have become the criteria in this world. I reject the perverted but helpless discourse industry which guarantees success in this big world. I reject the shameful ethic dualism which has become common-place in the present world. I reject the subtle frustration that has become the necessary attribute of an artist. I reject it in favor of a more comfortable, but perhaps more fruitful suffering. I reject the hypocritical and dishonest language of contemporary art in favor of an elementary political gesture. However, I am not so simple and childish myself. Enough of pathetic exaggerations! I would like to conclude as follows: I promise you to be sober-minded and cunning, resourceful and dangerous. I promise to act in such ways that you cannot sink me or surround me with silence. I promise to work against you smartly and cautiously, promise to be attentive and cool-hearted, in order to hit you slightly and strongly, where I can, as long as I have enough strength, even if there is no future in this.