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hello Karlaplan


white isn’t the bland thing

its made out to be micro-

divisions of aggressive

homogeneities splintering

invisible strands of random unspoken laws of privilege the white who will not see the white who sees but doesn’t care the self-aware white who cares but has no shame the utterly self-conscious shame-burdened white perpetually helpless in the face of multi-versal neo-capitalist patriarchal power trying to frame itself as the do-gooder watching noble intentions dissolve as anthropologies

of the ridiculous

unintentional academic

[reflections on the performance essay luxurious migrant & the artistic research project improvising trickster]

 

by Stacey Sacks

 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

-James Baldwin

luxurious migrant is a performance essay attempting to excavate whiteness (and the performance of it) through hyper-disciplinary improvisatory experiments in mask, film, text, animation, sculpture, poetry, photography and…if it sounds like a lot, it is. The essay attempts and possibly fails to question the politics of representation and the ontology of character from within this performer’s body and experience. Keys to the research are Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s notion of ‘critical intimacy’ and Audre Lorde’s claim that ‘Poetry is not a luxury’.

 

PRIVILEGE IS A WALK IN THE PARK

 

I’m on public transport watching reflections in train windows of people staring into flat screens at themselves. Drawing their hands and iPhones quietly in my notebook, suddenly I’m aware that perhaps I’m not interested in making drawings of the world, but with the world. Consumed by memories of my home long gone in Zimbabwe, I’m thinking of perpetual governance eating it’s young and wonder how to express my anti-totalitarian and anti-colonial outrage without delegitimizing the unique violence experienced by people of colour. How can I as an artist express my outrage with the way ‘foreign nationals’ are murdered in South Africa, with the ongoing waves of xenophobia that sweep the country, the violence from which I am exempted due to the colour of my skin. How can I approach the suffering that enrages me without instrumentalising brutalized bodies, without appropriating black trauma and engaging a voyeuristic narrative?

 

In my search for commonality, to find a way to humanity, my intention is to investigate notions of entitlement and territory: who defines the so-called ‘normal’, who is given a voice and who is forced to demand one, who occupies the centre and who is marginalized. It calls to questions in clown of the mask and the counter-mask.

In the spirit of a clownish critique of despotism, greed and homophobia, I once created a show called I SHIT DIAMONDS, exploring notions of the oppressor and the oppressed, the dictator and the humanitarian. I wonder why in that show I felt utterly sanctioned to perform the dictator buffoon Viktor Mugabatokwe, a character activated by the masks of a moustache, sunglasses, military gear and beret. Now in my research I unpack my right to ‘pass’ in this and other ways. I’m questioning the lines performers are allowed to cross in the service of satire, the permissiveness afforded by masks. It leads to exploring notions of control, access, acquiescence and encounter. What bodies is the performer, the animator, the drawer, photographer, the sculptor entitled to inhabit?

 

Attempting to excavate whiteness from within, I reflect on whether it’s vaguely possible to re-wire an imperial mind. Am I touching the ‘critical intimacy’ Spivak refers to or just cashing in on my cultural capital, unintentionally perpetuating the obvious and hidden biases of Western intellectual traditions?

 

Unintentionally I trip into minstrelsy, drawing black-face from the deep subconscious racist muck sitting inert at the base of ancestral stories, the rot that must come out, navigated with sensitivity yet lanced and removed, or at the very least, faced.

The trickster brandishes the scalpel. This research project initially aims to excavate whiteness and privilege, and the likely shame associated with these, through comic improvisation and expanded notions of performance, developing the clown genre in the current geo-political context. I’m interested in the moment when the poetic gesture becomes political, questioning the tangible ramifications in this so-called ‘real’ world.

 

 

(a working/playing document by Stacey Sacks)

 

LUXURIOUS MIGRANT

performing whiteness

oR

stockholm is vicious

or

My Brother Hates Me Coz I’m Gay

(a musical in 0.5 parts)

 

or

Exit man Chased By Flies

or

the walls have tongues

or

 

GENTRIFUCKATION and other

ugly tales from the neo-colonial empire

 

or

DYKE GLORYHOLE

||thank you Mia Engberg||

 

or maybe

everything is happening

just normally

(murmurings of a post-traumatic clown)

 

 

xxiii.

(locality a safe-box key)

 

many of these stories are notes, observations, memories, poems, photos, stills and drawings not originally intended for publication or even with the idea that they would one day be seen which they are right now. if so, try read out loud to no one in particular or possibly to trees. as confessional invocations/incantations of a luxurious migrant in unintentional exile, these experimental probings explore what it means to enter the moment via poetry, text, memory, photography, drawing, stop-motion and film. They are a part of and apart from Stacey Sacks’ PhD in artistic research.

if you are right now reading this imagine too what

stinks in the swamp of your shallowest soul

your own biases & binary-drenched blind-spots

 

 

 

 

empty is

the new full blame

the new game

 

                     

 

it’s all the same

 access visceral border-

     line arbitrary

         skins category shapes money bones class

              educations last attempt to pass the failing test

         entrance exams gone bankrupt

     exit the back door collect

 nothing

at all.

 

  •  

like my father

        i like to sleep

           with a weapon

                                 near the bed

                        stick bat or           

            knife by the head

       panic heart

attacks from behind

      smothers face with sheets

strangles with wire

    knows safeties are keys

             hidden behind pot-plants

   where no one will look or ever

think to see

 

 

 

 

<South Africa>

Johannesburg dayze. I like to sit in a corner coffee shop in Melville. it faces Serendipity nestling in a stark white way between Mexico and Berlin all bars along 7th street lined with foreign nationals. quadriplegic to the right café latté straight ahead. outside a Zimbabwean with blow up whales and pandas from China smiles his goods my way I won’t pay for them today I’ve bought my share of plastic shit this week in the name of giving guilt a safe home to rest. just ate a heart biscuit after surprise meeting with a once-love in the street I remember her lips quite well. back then her yogic stability was incredibly attractive as was her left clavicle bone. I forgot the cluster of moles on her neck. people in traffic are especially angry, earlier I witnessed a fight erupt between two 4x4 jeeps. one with two men who happened to be black and legally in the wrong, switching lanes clearly hoping for a bit of UBUNTU from fellow commuters. thick white guy with a disappearing neck red bulging vein face screams, ‘I let someone else in earlier! FUCK OFF!!’ they all hoot and hurl fingers. I watch passively from the side conducting the business of noticing as research. this morning I woke up laughing from dreams with a full explosive bladder.

 

 

                  

 

 

<Sweden>

After Bali, Wednesday on the train the day continues way past its middle via Slussen. thinking hard about entrances and exits, rituals of birth and death, inhaled exhalations. controlling the unfolding aboard structural symbols of domination and acquiescence. writing on the train beats scrolling the brain-dead thumb dance. tongues move up and down in all languages humanity should hang its head and let its eyes be eaten out by flies since the cycle began before the beginning begun before it started to stun. poetry on a train without a cause. luxurious migrant. pig coloured winter sun sets time backwards to the future.

banana trees and palm fronds no longer peek into the sanctuary of my bedroom. arriving back in this grey brown pasty-skinned limp-faced pace is a challenge after the greensunburst insect-filled deity-ridden explosion of Penestanan, Ubud.  Nästa Karlaplan. Moving into grey the disaster will not be named but will spell its own end, post trust post truth. wet downturned faces cradling phones closed eyes access deep awareness of the shapes possible from the inside. to breathe life into character inhabiting an other requires warm flexibilities of body, mind, imagination, soul. a limber-ness not excluding brittle-bitter-ness. strong yet surrendering malleable gentle elastic core, directed yet capable of being interrupted, even distracted for a short while. rushing is no way to start the day mine the kind of thinking that rings untree – untrue - the gap of the slap to reality’s map. rhyming is so past the post. when destinations clear it’s easy to navigate silent queer fragmentations. finger consumed by exzcema eczsema excema (how the fuck do you spell it) is the ugliest sight and I mean that in the least self-loving way. a scaly monster slowly transforms this body into its parasitic twin from the fingers in.

 

  •  

 

 

Afrotopia

is a title perhaps some should never use

born on the white side of history and

nobody cares

also

melancholic golliwog
[reduced to g*wog]

europe doesn’t give a shit they’ll lap it up stand up for

a burning white with a molten core

offering up confessional texts revealing scores

on behalf of the academy

string her up we’ve done it before

light the match scream and stretch

victimhood a sublime pastime

quartering limb from limb left

burning in the street.

 

  •  

 

PRESS TO PLAY

viewer-maker-subject-rabbit
[try playing the above whilst reading the below text]

an extract of STANLEY G's performance essay

FINALLY! We can begin. Or did it already start. When did it begin? Was it before we came in or long long before...

For a moment let’s imagine we’re in a theatre and this a somehow terrible and deliberate act of arranged material designed to manipulate the senses.

Of course we must consider what power dynamics occur in this encounter.

But also, what dynamics are possible?

Who is othering who

Which side the stage?

Are you looking at me or am I looking at you?

Who’s the monkey in the zoo?

Are you aware of my arse…arse…artifice? Well, so am I! Who cares, we can all agree it’s a fabrication. Fa-bri-ca-tion. From Latin fabricatio, ‘a structure, construction, a making’. Can we be enthusiastic about this fabrication? From Greek:  En – ‘in’ and theos – God, inspired or possessed by the deities! As Fred Moten says, we should not be concerned with the academic mmm, but with the UUURRGGHHH, the James Brown OW!! You gotta feel down in your kishkas! The enthusiasme of being here in this moment, together.

 

Whilst exploring this idea of presence, we have to ask the question what does it mean to be here? From Judith Butler, we have to find a way to ‘understand ourselves in time’.

Actors say, ‘Oy, I wasn’t there!’ Well where the hell were they!? What does it mean for a body to be there? What body is here? Is the tongue here? I mean is it there? Is it both here and there simultaneously?

Can it be said to be TRUE does it exist? As Hamlet never said:

To tongue or not to tongue, that is the question?

 

I Stanley Guldvasser am here to present and re-present the research of

STAHCEY SUCKS---SEX---SACKS, STAHCEY SACKS. It is my role to do a turd…third opponent critique of and commentary on this body of work and its tiny ripples in this particular pond of privilege, as well as its ruptures and ‘snaps’ as Sara Ahmed would say.

 

-squeak doll

 

In this unique constellation of tongues and people never congregating again in this particularly secular way, in this broadcasting TV studio we encounter Sucks’ exploration of Professor Daniel Peltz’ term ‘narrowcasting’, a word bound to lead the researcher right up their own tochus.

 

I’d like to assure you that everything you’ve seen here so far…is just the beginning. Now the start of the beginning is nearing its end so we kick-off the middle of the opening, on the periphery of the centre of the 50%.

(walk backwards, trip over the shitfuck stick)

 

-squeak doll

 

After Ubu Roi’s PSCHITT STICK, this is an updated for the times SHITFUCK stick! Universal symbol of power and agency, the only valid response to our current age. SHITFUCK! (throw the stick up) We have to figure out how to penetrate this white ceiling! If anyone here would like to grab the SHITFUCK stick and have their own throw, do it! Remember you are free except when you’re not.

 

Now the artist imagines this encounter is a conversation, so why am I doing most of the talking? First mistake! By sound of applause, who wants audience participation? Sorry for you! The researcher is shutting you up for the next half hour!

Here’s a consolation prize… a readymade from the forest…(hand out a prize or two)

 

Now here I hold a tongue in my hands. It’s hard FOR LIFE, a virtually indestructible jesmonite sculpture. This thing will outlive us all…think of that…you will die this will continue living. LALALALALALA….

The researcher calls it a ‘poetic object’ also an ‘emotional object’.

Send it around, feel free to finger it and know that you are the third audience ever to fondle one of the artist’s many tongues. Poke into its grooves and discover what a sculpture can do for you.

 

By the way what a beautiful tongue you have!

Would you like to take it home with you? I mean, it is your tongue, it has your aura - you are the original the authentic, it is undoubtedly a part of you, it’s your tongue.

Walter Benjamin said, the presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity!

Would you like to take it home? I’m offering you art for free!

(For 20 000 SEK, the artist can sign it)

 

Now all these tongues have been somewhat uselessly produced by Sucks as part of thinking through the sticky complex subject of whiteness and what productive disobedience could mean during supremacist times.

 

Whiteness is a gooey sauce stewing in the beige privilege a sense of so-called freedom, safety and power affords. A subject cloaked in denial, shame and guilt.

And that’s the positive side.

 

Think of the research as a 5 year shame-shower, a drenching in white complicity, full immersion into the mould-marinading gravy of inert racist muck operating unconsciously in deep recesses of collective swampy souls. It was Jung who said shame is the ‘swampland of the soul’. There is an earnest hope and real desire for purging, yet sad realization of its probable impossibility. Should this potential failure cancel the attempt? Perhaps.

 

What does it mean for a so-called white person in today’s particularly white landscape to interrogate whiteness within this luxurious predominantly white institution, indeed in one of the whitest and most privileged countries in the whole entire world?

What does it mean to perform whiteness in that context? What is the point, what does it produce? Is it simply a reproduction of all the tropes it imagines it’s critiquing?

 

What is the purpose of art in the current geo-political moment? How can we as artists be of service to the community, how can we sculpt a future worth living?

Is it vaguely possible to rewire the privileged mind, to splinter and destabilize it? SHITFUCK!

The research asks NOTHING of you, except to remember what stinks in the swamp of your own soul, to examine your own biases, prejudices and blind-spots.

 

 

Let me tell you, when you shine a light on white, you see NOTHING! By focussing on this nothing you then place it in the centre, reinforcing its invisibility and the spurious ways this invisibility seeps into the cracks of privileged complicity, perpetuating dominant ideologies. As James Baldwin said, ‘As long as you think that you are white, there is no hope for you’.

In ‘The invention of the white people’ Hamid Dabashi recently wrote:

 ‘There are no white people. There are no black people. There are no red, yellow, brown, blue, purple, crimson or any other colour people. These are all socially constructed delusions. Delusions though with real, frightful, murderous, and genocidal consequences.’ 

 

The academy gives the artist tabula rasa a blank slate to probe their subject, gives them the white flag you could say to wave on behalf of the institution, as if signalling to the outside world, ‘Look! We’re not afraid to look ourselves deep up the wazoo only we get this white African to do it for us!’ The work seems to become a righteous looking deeply up one’s own cultural asshole, taking Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s notion of ‘critical intimacy’ very literally!

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etcetc

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