What to make of artistic processes that do not seek for open communication, or that are most likely important for their doers, but leave others cold, or outside? Above all, what to make of them particularly in those contexts in which the process is presented as a way to restore a social bond or fight against neoliberal individualisation?


It is time to return to the original question of my research proposal from 2011: Do they [collective writing practices or process-oriented art] challenge the dominant contexts of cultural production, or are they themselves caught up in the dynamics of the late capitalistic, knowledge-based, consumer cultures?


The answer is of course, yes and no. Some processes do, some do not. But more than that, during my research, I have started to wonder if the focus on the intimate, guarded and perpetual process and the distrust of the publicised objects might be something that not all the doers are enjoying themselves, either. What to think of Massumi’s (2013, 2) suggestion that process is self-creation, and ‘[m]ore than that, the self-creation is “enjoyed”’? Could it be that, in some cases, the celebration of the process and our detachment from the artwork-as-an-object is rather a means to cope with the current situation in which we are forced to produce goods, art, results, effects, events and reactions in an accelerating speed? Is it rather a survival strategy for us who feel the pressure to publicize the results before we want to, just in order to please the old and new funders, the market, the audiences, or the employer in the world that suffers from an ‘ongoing crisis of attentiveness’, as Jonathan Crary (2001, 13–14) has described it.


Is this what also characterized the reactions of the MKS community? They wanted to guard their creative process, and understandably so, they told me I was welcomed to comment on the completed and published work, instead of the process. In this sense, the writing collective subscribed to my own ideals, and shared my appreciation of the object as the mediator. But why speak publicly about the process in the first place, if reactions or interpretations of the public are not wanted? Why discuss the process with the journalist, if the effects of publicity—in other words, interaction with strangers—are not desired? Is it because they need attention for the community to stay together, or for potential funders and readers to get interested? Or is it because of x or y? I do not know, I can only speculate, as I did not have access to the process.


According to Crary (2001, 14), the crisis of attentiveness is characteristic of the society in which ‘the changing configurations of capitalism continually push attention and distraction to new limits and thresholds, with an endless sequence of new products, sources of stimulation and streams of information’. In the course of time, I have started to see this crisis of attentiveness as the hegemonic or dominant context of many collaborative art projects and process-based art. They are caught inside a loop of perpetual production of novelty, accelerated by the theories of process art and process philosophy. As Massumi (2013, 1, cit. Whitehead 1968, 151) writes in relation to Whitehead, ‘[t]o be at all is to be active in the “production of novelty”’. This is a heavy burden to carry in times characterised by the abundance of information, un-restricted over-production and the ecological crisis, a heavy burden in times when we are governed through our disability to process the information excess.


This pressure to be active in the perpetual production of novelty, hit me painfully when applying for a new research fellowship to continue or extend my research on artistic collaborations. The referee who had read my proposal had not even taken the time to fill in the form to evaluate my research, but only noted that ‘The project proposal is interesting, but the applicant already has four years funding for it and there emerges no reason to prolong the project time’.


Enough said. Rather than writing meaningful, thoroughly-thought and well-researched texts on subjects I know, I should instead invent a new project and throw myself into processes of bare activity. What is asked from me is research that is always in the state of becoming, just about to stir, but never completed, never turned into an object, which I would find worth circulating.


Now I’m running not only against the deadline, and against time, but also out of money to produce this exposition, which is not as good as I would hope it to be, but which is, instead, first beginning-to-stir in my head, in this file and eventually on this platform of Ruukku. I have myself become a producer of what is always-in-the-state-of-becoming and never an object.


I have started to invent new projects and new promises before the old ones have been fulfilled. And would you believe it if I said that one of the new projects is titled ‘The Promise Economy’ as it investigates the production of unfulfilled promises in the cultural sector. I have become my own research object, and to be honest, I am not enjoying the process.


We, Caught in a Perpetual Process



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