It is our great honour and pleasure
to invite you to the exhibition Personal/Impersonal
Deranging the rhythm of the heteropatriarchal choreography
Notes for the exhibition by Slavcho Dimitrov
We live in an era of post-political consensuality, orchestrated through the counting of administrative positions, measuring of results and a trivialized debate conducted on the negotiating parliamentary table with nice manners and good upbringing. Any attempt to challenge the hegemony of the common sense and to bring back to the stage the exiled passionate, experienced and embodied conflicts and antagonisms between the unequally acknowledged and regulated entities in the social field of distribution of power, is a risk in itself. You run the risk of being a priori delegitimized as undeserving participants in the “democratic” debate and to bear the mark of irrationality, hysteria and the primitivism of the scream stripped of the dignity of the political logos. This risk is the risk of you being placed in the historical register of the “female” position prescribed by the narcissistic and self-satisfied public sphere of the moderate, dressed in suits and highly-educated men of the high class (or women who are harmonized, in step with and in rhythm with the phallic social choreography).
We live in an era after the “end of history” and the supposed universal triumph of liberal democracy. In this era, the issues of gender violence, inequality and transformation according to the hegemonist political logic are “nearly resolved”, whereas what remains for us is to simply maintain the already achieved balance and to celebrate, from a comfortable historical distance, the victories of our predecessors. The mobilization of the juxtaposition in which the opponents facing us on the other side are patriarchy, the masculine violence, the culture of rape and the submission of women, is also a risky gesture that could easily win you the unenviable reputiation as someone who is out of fashion, paranoid, frustrated, thankless and a radical feminist. Apart from the controlled sanctioned conditions for pronunciation of this word, such as the nice-smelling rostrum of the United Nations, or from the perspective of a Hollywood star, the feminist antagonism keeps marking the risky place of the occurrence of stigma and an overarching phantasm.
The installation by Zorica Zafirovska – Personal/Impersonal starts exactly at this place, taking all its risks with itself. Operating in the domain of the aesthetic experience, Zafirovska brings to light the constitutive and paradoxical intertwining of politics and art – the “dissensual reconfiguration of the common experience of the sensible (J. Rancière)”. This work is based on the suspension of the daily forms of sensory experience, of what we are used to and what is sanctioned within the framework of the police hetero-patriarchal regime of distribution of the sensible as a limitation that regulates the things that can be seen, heard, felt and acknowledged as a legitimate part of the common and shared social space. Zafiroska reframes what we take to be unambiguously real and challenges the sensory self-evidence of the existing order, removing the veil of patriarcial violence which still organizes and defines our experience and social existence.
Inhabiting the very interior of the form of the catchy, neuro-resonant short-cut messages of advertising, Zafirovska interrupts the current circulation and overlapping between perception/the sensible/what has been put in the focal field of social visibility, on the one hand and the sense, on the other hand. By formatting the advertising-political messages as simple and unequivocal cliché-forms and words, they become a medium for the artist through which she makes us face the hidden bruises of the social body in a straightforward manner. The suppressed history of violence comes to the surface as an opportunity and foundation for maintaining and the hegemony of the fetishism of commodity and the maintenance of the heteropatriarchal oikos – as an archive to the past and the presence marked with violence, discrimination, exclusion, exchange and the rape over women – as a symptom – a mark on the idealized image of the family and social comfort. Zafirovska strips and unbuttons the habituated and common sense logic of the daily routine of the depolitised consuming subject, and stopping him (stopping us), makes him (makes us) face the implacable call of justice as the necessity of politicization and constituting an antagonistic and a different sensorium. In the tradition of conceptual art, just like Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Lilith Adler and the other feminist and “slogan” artists, Zafirovska re-appropriates the anchored position within the relations of power of the supposed self-understanding truths and authoritative messages, the political and commercial truisms, and from that point she juxtaposes alternative, agonistic meanings and opportunities. That same act helps her bring a blow to the regime of visibility, shaking out the hidden violence of ignorance and keeping silent. In the banal everyday routine of patriarchy and capitalism, Zafirovska makes a monument of the word rape, as well as the violence implied in the gender division of society. In the grammar of the everyday routine, through the cracks of the well known words with which we are sinking in the world around us in a sterile manner and we pursue the enthusiastically promised paths of happiness, Zafirovska, as a “feminist killjoy” (S. Ahmed) talks in the language of the silenced and shamed people, with the scream of those who are considered as less humans or animals – as the language of equality.
However, these words – determiners of the world in the work of Zafirovska, slide towards a small, seemingly insignificant, sensory, yet world-creating small object – the notebook and thus they effectuate double removal and estrangement Zafirovska does not need special analytical and discoursive determinants and monosemantic referents from the “real world” that would realize the political conflict through the recognizable rules of the political game. The aesthetic and metapolitical engagement is materialized here through an object in which the history and the experience of everyday life of gender minorities is subtly written. “Metapolitics is the opinion that aims to overcome the political dissensus through a change of the stage, through the transition from the appearance of democracy and the forms of State to the infra-stage of underground movements and specific energies that compose them“. (Rancière)
By re-signifying the use of the small scribbling pad – the notebook, not only does she stand in the way of the abstraction of the exchange value of the capitalist market, but, what is more, Zafirovska even dislocates the usage value of our daily agenda. Hence, the scribbling pad, as an usual sensory object from everyday life where we write about the organization of time, we regulate the capacities and lines of movement of the female bodies as consumers in the market in order to fill the home consumer basket (“making a shopping list”), becomes the surface for writing the new subject, a body dislocated from its prescribed position and opportunities, a body transformed into an unrecognizable bearer of the resistance against hetero-patriarchal exploitation. Or, the notebook is a sign of the semiotics of the kitchen (again through referring to the feminist art history through Martha Rosler), which refers to the traditional female roles (writing down recipes, perhaps?) becomes a map of personal awakening and collective planning of the fight for equality. Meanings are multiplied. The everyday routine of the notebook is seen in its use value as an organizer of time, a place where we write the distribution of time, of obligations, plan for work, the responsibility and the weariness from the exploitation of the “feminised” labour in neoliberal capitalism. In this era there is no time for political subjectivisation. Zafirovska deconstructs the neoliberal depolitisation and leaves room for “extra” time, she returns the appropriated time in order to make things different, to make a change. From a different perspective, the suggestive system of the privatizing and psychologizing logic of the sentimental pop-literature for self-help which calls upon the repressed subject to locate the problems in one’s life through a permanent self-observation and with a personal responsibility to take the necessary steps for self-transformation with sufficient willpower, in “Personal/Impersonal” these are juxtaposed with the radical rejection of the incriminating machine for production of guilt and responsibility among women and this represents a raised fist to the social architecture of gender violence and structural inequality.
Zafirovska in a precise, minimal, subtle and attentive manner shows that she knows quite well what are the hidden and effective strategies of the operation of power. She doesn’t locate power in the “monarchic” principle of the centralized source, such as the state. Power operates through a diffusive network of relations anchored in the most banal corners of everyday life and therefore the interruption and clash that is performed by Zafirovska in this work of hers are positioned exactly in the layers of power spread across a whole way of life (marked with the small notebook) instead of only in the traditional institutions of the state and the power.
Personal note – 05/11/2015
Organize a collective for protesting, blocking and boycotting of all companies that still reduce women in their advertisements to the bullying stereotype of being nothing more than just objects of desire of terrified men and ants in the kitchen of the pink ghetto.