Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The Map Of Friendship between Art and Philosophy. Hirschhorn and Steinweg

In 2007 Thomas Hirschhorn and Marcus Steinweg worked together designing The Map of friendship between art and philosophy.
Written words and images are linked together, developing a network of practical engagement with the outside world.
Hirschhorn’s love for philosophy is not new. The Swiss artist has always declared his passion for a subject that he doesn’t really see statically in its theoretical statements, but in its material evolving commitment with a society continuously open to changes.
This materialist approach brought the artist to use for his works mostly commodities. Each one reflects the object life’s time in the everyday world. We soon realize how the commodity is everything but timeless. Its value belongs to its usability, once the object loses its function it’s not useful anymore from a capitalistic logic point of view.
Obviously Hirschhorn acts in a provocative way, he loves to stimulate his viewer’s opinion and to give him the tools -firstly cognitive ones- to change the reality he lives in. Well, like Marx suggested, let’s stop wasting our time in trying to interpret the world, and start to change it.
His art is ob-scene, in the sense it shows everything.
Also what the bourgeois sense of shame has previously castrated, left out from the representation of the truth.
Hirschhorn is interested in what is kept outside the mise en scene and he hyperbolically demonstrates the catastrophic power of the ruins, the rest of what was an object valid exclusively for its use.
Towers of broken televisions scotched altogether, gossip magazines not interesting anymore because celebrities already run out of their 5 minutes of fame, heaps of mobile phones that probably people don’t fancy anymore due to their being outdated. These ruins create a melancholic scenario, but at the end their solitude is too loud for sadness to powerfully embrace all scene and it’s hard to avoid a sarcastic smile.
Cristal of resistence. T. Hirschhorn

The reflection on Hirschhorn’s art comes from this morning workshop at Edinburgh College of Art. My colleague Lewis den Hertog made me think about it.
If it’s true that art is always a political issue, the Swiss artist is the perfect exemplification of it.
Let’s go back to the Map.
I love the title, I love all Hirschhorn titles.
I do believe there must be a deep connection with the words of the title and the artwork’s body. They should interact in order to make more visible the materiality of the parole, the concreteness of a language too often taken for granted.
This title embodies the idea of friendship, meant as a relation that is obviously supported by a sort of magical empathy, but also derived from a conscious decision of mutual engagement.
All the words written down are easily mistaken at the first glimpse for abstract concepts.
However, they are not.
As well as we should remember every day how fallible is the idea of immaterial labour, we should keep in mind that some words are defined as abstract just as a matter of cataloguing. It’s the materiality of the empirical level that we need to manipulate in order to change the reality.
Hope is then the will of making dreams become true, Courage is the assumption of our own responsibility in everyday choices, Resistance is to sacrifice our self in the very etymologic term of the word. To sacrifice means to make something sacred, in my act of resisting I’m taking some actions not just for my self but also in a much wider prospective of interests.
Thomas Hirschhorn was the only artist representing Switzerland at this year Venice Biennale.
His familiarity with the mainstream art spontaneously raises questions on the factual sincerity of his assault toward capitalist economy.
Nevertheless the aesthetic and the concrete meaning of his art are great critical tools. His creative perspective of reality does help the viewer in not taking for granted what’s going on and in attempting to constantly manipulate the reality.
As the artist says, “This is something essential to art: reception is never its goal. What counts for me is that my work provides material to reflect upon. Reflection is an activity."

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