Art and Multitude

Interview with Antonio Negri

Transcribed and translated by Arianna Bove from a video file that is no longer there!

First there was the occupation of the academy, then people moved to piazza san Marco, where the police attacked – great chaos – then there was chaos during the inauguration inside and especially at the beach. The great innovations had already happened, in the 50s there was nothing new, ciao and surrealism etc had already happened and there was nothing that had a sense of novelty. Pollock was the great event of the biennale (56-58). There was the look onto America (the interlocutor says). Negri responds: yes there was the conquest of the markets, but France too saw a new organisation of languages. The realist and figurative was exhausting itself. There were Venetian abstractists (Bacci, who was really nice), Tancredi (I had one at home). Bacci yes, is he still alive? I don’t think so. 1968 cannot be reduced in itself to what were the internal events of artistic schools. There was a delirious relation with the events happening outside, but I don’t have the impression that there had been a great change in the languages. Languages modulated themselves around ‘68 but did not fundamentally reinvent themselves in the arts. I don’t believe in vanguards. I think today vanguards are to be understood as internal to movements in general; anyway if they exist they exist on the web, in so far as they manage to express themselves as exceeding and as novelties in relation to what happens on the web. I cannot see any vanguards as premonitory or initiator of trends. I can see the reinvention of languages and the continuous provision of new instruments, toolboxes which are needed to work with. The great theme is to find again central points. The use of visual media: TV, photography, was very important. Now the problem is to seize back reality, and with reality to reconquer an action through the real. We need to catch the real centrality of discourse, which can be defined as an attempt to analyse the forms with which one works. To see one’s work not as vanguard but as inserted in a network. The fragmentation of the elements of discourse points to the need of an organising process that runs through them to recompose them, to enact something from the bottom in a way that puts in a positive relation of communication the various figures and facets of this process. I think this is damned difficult to do. I cannot see within artistic making even if I don’t have great experience in this, to see all the interesting things that come out in Paris, there’s nothing new. The discourses that start positing the need of this recomposition are interesting. Recomposition around what? I don’t think there are figurative models or forms of imagination that can solve this problem. I doubt there are schemas that can solve the problem of a research, but what is extremely important is the political sensibility of people who operate in artistic discourses. The problem is no longer to express something different, but to express moments of recompositions, which are inside a process that are within a process of transformation of labour, thus, it is a question of generalisation of the artistic experience. When we say there is no vanguard we simultaneously say that labour, the more it becomes intellectual, the more it recomposes itself in modalities that are those of knowledge, affect, production of the expression of a fullness and joy of life that can be strong. There is a return to artistic experience as fullness of life, joy of life. That does not deny the effort, suffering and labour of production in itself, but it recomposes its waiting, brings utopia back into the real, and all this is not something that the individual artistic producer can do by himself. The analysis of languages collective analysis can do something. But if you asked me where they are happening I couldn’t tell you.

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