Expression in Crisis. Anna K.E.’s »Teen Factory« | At Simone Subal Gallery, New York

Constelaciones. Revista de Teoría Crítica | Art, Memory and Critical Theory | Nr. 7, 2016

»The crisis of expression is the crisis of society. What one perceives in Anna K.E.’s works is an experience of being dragged by the relations of an economy which became independent of its agents—and to the movement of which Marx paradoxically referred to as the “automatic subject.” This perception is possible not because, for example, the artist is a migrant; or that alienness would transhistorically constitute a fundamental structure of the human existence. K.E.’s art is alien in a determinate way: Her works are alien in themselves—partially evolved, and then again arrested, stabilized as triangles; elevated on a white platform of a couple of inches, with a few biomorphic inserts—a piece of grass, some water in a blue basin, a synthetic imitation of a fried egg. What is not comprehended is being imitated—and expression fails to occur.«

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Theodor W. Adorno | “Theses on Need” (1942)

The classless society abolishes irrationality, in which production for profit is entangled, and it satisfies needs; it also abolishes the practical spirit that asserts itself even in the bourgeois l’art pour l’art’s disregard for ends. It abolishes not only the bourgeois antagonism between production and consumption, but also their bourgeois unity. For something to be useless is no longer a shame. Adap-tation loses its meaning. Only then will productivity act upon needs in the real, undistorted sense: not by fulfilling the dissatisfied needs with what is useless, but rather by the ability of the fulfilled need to relate to the world without modelling itself after universal utility. If the classless society promises the end of art, by abolishing the tension between the real and the possible, at the same time it also promises the beginning of art, of the useless whose intuition tends toward reconciliation with nature, for it no longer serves the benefit of exploiters. 

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The Changeability of Needs, the Tenuous Perseverance of Love. Introduction for »Theses on Need«

"Its tacit polemics against, among other things, the reductionist materialism of Marxism-Leninism, is also applicable to the positivism of today’s neuroscience and biology. It expresses the historical changeability of needs. Natural needs—this is how Adorno’s claim can be interpreted—are what in humans are things-in-themselves, and nevertheless they are subject to historical change—for the subject itself is part of nature."

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