The specificity of Bytom, the suburb of Bobrek, for instance, is an assemblage of refrains – for which I tried to enunciate, to produce agency of a collective speech, as Brian Holmes translates the concept of Guattari:
“The point was to suggest how a group can act to ‘metamorph itself’, to escape from the overcoding that tries to fix it in one position, and to produce new figures, forms, constellations – in short, original material and cultural configurations that are inseparable from collective statements. This is what Guattari calls an agencement collectif d’énonciation […] ‘an articulation of collective speech’.” (Holmes 2006, 421) The performance tried to keep some of the minor loose ends of the seemingly major refrain of industrialism, which are particular only in the case of Bytom and to which only the people of Bytom as witnesses of the performance may tie their folding narratives.
It is the capitalist abstract machine of abstractions, which approximates the standard and creates a mess of details and functions as a homogenizing process. The sense of mess is not a sense of density, but void, where localized and minor refrains are transformed into the talk of the capitalist machinery. It is a cool identity, which lingers in the void – which in turn has the capacity to annihilate. In practice these moments of cool and indifference are doubled with the sense of despair, loneliness and aggression. I know that I am into something, but I cannot perceive, articulate or signify what it is. There are no means of articulation, but only a way to probe and leave these elements hanging on and to accept the presence of a shadow, which is similar to non-discursive trauma. (Caruth 1995; Leys 2000; Bennett 2005) In my predication, this is what a performance can do, with the nondiscursive matter of potentials – destructive or emerging, like holding them on my fingertips and articulating the void around them. The existential territory is a mess of the quotidian virtual not yet captured.
New, accident or shadow – or in turn the coolness of a transformed subjectivity – have no symbolic articulation. Therefore, it brings forth the danger of an event as annihilation potential of plasticity. Such practice, which I have been taking up as schizoanalytic practice works with the accident, and in this way, "The Real can only occur by chance, without any machination", as Malabou refers to Lacan's idea of trauma being only possible by an accident. (Malabou 2012a, 135) The void, like trauma, evades full symbolic articulations, but transforms subjectivity. The controlling techniques appropriated by neoliberal capitalism function in similitude with trauma, by damaging subjectivity’s relation with the other and the Real and cerebral dimensions. It creates “isolation” and “neutralization”; transforms time, space, and relations with perception, interests and performance. (Malabou 2012a, 148; Deleuze 1992)
The other side of the virtuoso of neoliberal capitalism is the shadow, non-discursive and virtual potentiality. The non-discursive, minor refrains are consecutively formed through the capturing machines of the Real, but the minor potentialities alter existential Territory of a subject or a group. The abstract machine of capitalism tries to capture the full potentiality of our everyday existence, and contaminate subjectivity by producing types, which in a subdued manner are considerably similar to the types of totalitarian plasticity, criticized by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy (1990).
I have shortly described an artistic process, which moves around minute and non-discursive matters. It may seem to some extent as a failure, cultivation of disaster, or appear as if the aspiration of these projects would be to conjure ridicule and destructive annihilation. When the discursive nature of artistic practice incorporates the dual nature of non-discursive potentiality including annihilation – of being exploited or revered as an actuation of the new with difference – it is expressly a political task. It is an articulation of contemporary political subjectivity.
In this project I approached these questions with aesthetic and theoretical apparatuses, with the intention to produce an aesthetic device of resilience and resistance for neoliberal engulfing of subjectivity.
However, I want to emphasize the difference from depressive or self-destructive modes. Plasticity – sponge subjectivity – forms modes of folding, forming and explosive attributes into our plastic subjectivities. There is a strong sense of resilience, which passes on me during these interviews and workshops, and I passed them on as resilience and affective existence in my performance. In the performance and video there were parts, which were scripted as a space for the resilience or explosive plasticity to be expressed. Abrupt and not planned movement could take place in some part of my body, which I would emphasize and follow for a moment. However, these movements did not develop into a full sequence, but created intentional ruptures, which in turn would lead into another path. Whatever the partially fabricated impulse might have been, it would lead into an area in which I did not have express competence, excellence or understanding. I did not feel like a master of a performance, but more like a sponge releasing matter from my pores; like a plastic sponge, Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob struggling in the presence of a shadow and the loss of coherence or meaning.
Simon O’Sullivan writes in his book On the Production of Subjectivity (2012) that the subject is a “site and locus of a kind of battle against the homogenizing powers of capitalism … but it was also a lived experience. A lived problem we might say.” (O’Sullivan 2012, 2) The subject is the problem and the battleground of power and subjection. Power is what produces subjectivity, which is a site of potential resistance, also. When semio-capitalism produces “an alienated, atomized and homogenized individual,” as O’Sullivan argues, then it is the practice and specific bodily performance, which not only articulates this, but also probes and explicitly presents how homogenization is taking place. It is the practice, which aims to articulate processes of homogenization and alienation among frustration, hope and invention. If a subject is unintermittedly exposed to visual representations of happiness, then how can a subject make a difference between the economy of joy, which requires him to excel as homo oeconomicus, and joy, which produces minute lines of flight? Both ways are production of subjectivity, but the result is altogether different.
In the performance of
Life in Bytom there are elements of the above-mentioned plurality of plasticity. I am as mouldable and resilient as those people are who were watching me in Bytom, and whose quotidian life was moulded accordingly with neoliberal transformation. During the working process, when I discussed with three young men at their ‘club’ in the basement of a blockhouse in the suburb of Karb in Bytom, or when I gave a diagram drawing workshop for the middle-aged women in the social centre of Bobrek, I did feel the same resilience, form giving, receiving and annihilation of form. In the performance I did not present anything to admire, or even to get exited about but I picked up certain modes of existence. These modes have been named precarious or fragile and uncertain of the future.
We feel that the norm is present everywhere, and almost impossible to contest – and often not with any sensible or signifying means. Thus, I may say that even in my solo performance work, this is at stake, since the ‘crowd’ does not signify a facialized group of people, but becoming-many, and becoming many in the one body. I would predicate, that it is therefore not very useful to attack the face, but only to search for the mutation of the minute and fragile ruptures of universal faciality. This is a constant operation; I would say a poetic operation. We should keep in mind that the facial signification operation, however apriori it might be, is not a process of capturing the full potentiality, in other words it is not a full capitalization of the potentiality.
Bytom, or the project
Life in Bytom, to be more specific, is a proposal for a concept. How to articulate the problem of neoliberal capitalism, and the impact of that on everyday life and the performance of a subject? Political philosopher and economist Akseli Virtanen asked in our advisory meeting about my project, how to make a tunnel between two localities, without reducing the problem and the exploitation on the level of the general or universal? How to produce a non-linear and non-pre-emptive discourse between localities? This was my ambitious aim in the project Life in Bytom.