I’ve been spending time in the suburb I grew up in. A guy I used to see around all the time, in 2003. He was always drinking beers in front of the supermarket, going in and buying more, being super thin from never eating. This wasn’t unusual behavior there. I guess I paid attention because he looked so young. He looked smart and violated.
I saw him on a bus today. He seems to be doing the same things. He had more cuts in his face, looked older, less thin. Social democracy is giving people a council flat and enough money to fund their state monopolized drinking problems. The apartments are holding cells to be miserable in, for decades.
I lost my Mp3 player in London. I bought another one and lost it 12 hours later on a bus in Helsinki. I’m tired all the time. It’s November and it’s dark and I keep falling asleep in public places. I’m unfocused. I cut my finger really badly while slicing a carrot. There was a ton of blood. I type on my keyboard and feel how this tender scar scrapes against the surface of the return key.
I know I should fight to possess things: the money that is owed to me, the Mp3 player that might be waiting for me in some Lost & Found. The feelings I have for someone that I should do something about before I stop feeling them.
What I want is to stop wanting. Or to want and do nothing. It’s tricky, especially with the money. It feels immoral towards myself not to fight for it. There will be a price to pay later on for not being enough of a fighter.
I feel like most things people do are a waste of time.
I’m watching this video from that 40 Days of Dating project that made the rounds online a few months ago. Rights have been sold to Hollywood. I feel nauseous. It’s the most disturbing video I’ve seen in ages. Love is an illusion. Remember to wear Comme des Garcons while mining your hetero-productive heartbreak. Assume that it’s relatable and be right 95% of the time. Coordinate your colors.
Fuck ‘young people’. Fuck a financial system that requires this type of personal branding. That expects you to move and be moved by romances so formulaic and clinical.
Desire only has a chance if it produces a completely different world. The task is not to make a thing but to create a new reality where things can be felt without distance or quirky typography.
“Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade. ”
Possession doesn’t just refer to the way you promised to work on your monogamous relationship. It refers to your coffee maker and your haircut and your design practice. How can a ‘lifestyle’ be so dreary and uncool. In order to live like this you’ve made a promise: to not change, or to change only in predictable, managed ways.
Suomen Paviljonki (Finnish Pavilion) Trailer, 2013
Kimmo Modig & Jaakko Pallasvuo
–—-> ATHENEUM.INFO <——-
2013 was a year of discouraging information about the art system. I became more aware of, and more displeased with, the amount of affective labor involved. The pathetic leveraging of one’s youth and cool (both more perceived than deeply felt). The fact that I somehow both surfed in on a #trend and missed my wave. One day you’re in, the next day you’re out. In an accelerated information age it really was a matter of days.
So I became interested in whatever else. Organized religion, peace, solitary sports, energy healing, socialism, love, tarot card readings, suburbs, drugs, planetary movements. Nothing stuck. I bought a flight to London. It was October.
JP: tried to go to wolfgang tillmans’s house
for a party
or was told to go
and then didn’t get in
and got the flu
it was super depressing
or not really
like i skipped frieze opening
because i wanted to feel pure
but then i got dragged in2 this nonsense and it backfired in a humiliating way
shouldn’t be this thirsty obvs
i wrote a 2500 word thing about it
and this quaker meeting that i went to
R: Oof. That doesnt sound fun. did u post it yet?
JP: i didn’t
it’s gonna be really good tho
i should write about berlin too
like how it “used to be”
R: At least you always make something productive
JP: that people would just go to a bar after the opening
R: Over your suffering
Your like jesus
JP: and now it’s like half take a taxi to the private dinner
and half remain standing on the curb like lol what happened
private life / work life collapse
I went to a Quaker meeting with someone who I had met one week earlier who had mentioned his background and present affiliation with the movement. We had talked about the history of it, the exemplary track record Quakers had with defending civil rights, etc. freedoms. I had been interested in Quakerism since Nate’s Quaker slut subplot during the last season of Six Feet Under. I sent this person a pushy e-mail about going to one of the meetings. There was a meeting that conveniently overlapped with the Frieze opening. ” I think everyone’s at the PV for Frieze on the 16th but i’m not super interested in that so no matter. Yeah, so next wednesday maybe? “, I wrote and felt nonchalant and cool.
(Maybe in this non-hierarchical worship one could have a sense of belonging or a way to relate to people that wasn’t ‘productive’ or profit-oriented. This felt novel in the context of the city.)
We went to the meeting. Then we had some dinner.
We had mediocre sushi and I had my teriyaki salmon and talked about how I had faked mental illness to get out of armed service and how that had taught me that I didn’t have to do things that I didn’t want to do, that systems were games that one could beat, that there were cheat codes and exceptions. To some other ears it would’ve sounded like I didn’t have a sense of social responsibility, but I had surrounded myself with people who saw the absurdity of national interests and the absurdity of weaponized masculinity.
I felt very calm after the meeting. I was happy to have shared silence with those people and to have shook their hands. Happy to be talking around the experience while consuming this weak London-priced sushi. I felt like I had made the right decision not going to the Frieze opening. That it was a moral decision and a decision that carried a lot of symbolic weight. I liked that I had made it into a big deal and that I could feel accomplished merely by refusing to do an irrelevant thing that was easy to refuse.
Notes about the meeting:
-feeling dirty and messy walking to the meeting
-illegal alien with no spiritual passport because of atheist background, lack of inherited spiritual wealth
-sitting down in the back, kind of too close to people when there were empty seats more sparsely divided
-rushing thoughts, not making sense, thinkin about emails, thinking about if my thinking about these things was affecting the energy i was sending out and if it was bothering the other worshippers
-the man who stands up and sings a hymn
- the man who talks about being a good samaritan
- talking at the end of the meeting about peace activism, anti arms trade
After sushi we went to a bar. It was the birthday of someone I didn’t know. The bar was empty at first and then began to fill with people coming from Frieze. I had a flu and was not supposed to drink. I drank shots with tomato juice, chili, vodka and garlic because they sounded healthy.
We talked about what it’s like to be bullied in school and if there was anything to learn from it.
A small group of people talked in hushed tones about continuing elsewhere. I overheard and they felt obliged to inform me: a party at Wolfgang Tillmans’s house.
You should come, she said and I said Yeah.
My intuition was that I was too tired and frazzled and wanted to avoid social discomfort. But when they left I followed. Slowly towards a bus stop. Get cash on the way. We took some bus to an uneventful looking posh quiet neighbourhood.
We found the house. We found out that there were too many of us. Only one of us was really supposed to be there. You couldn’t just bring your friends. It wasn’t a ‘studio party’. Ok let’s just go, I said. Let’s wait, he said.
One smart guy gave up immediately. I have to work anyways, he said and kissed her on the cheek and walked into the night. The rest of us stood behind the closed door.
We stood there for 10 minutes or so. They kept opening the door for people to leave. Then four or five people from our group decided to go for it and managed to walk in. The remaining three of us got stopped and shut down. We went back to standing outside looking confused, more acquaintances pulled up in taxis and insisted on getting in and did get in. I felt like I shouldn’t get in and also didn’t want to get in enough. I didn’t look the part, I didn’t feel the part, I felt like I didn’t give a shit, merely wanted the ambivalence of the situation to come to an end.
I felt like an old person. I felt uncool which made me feel grounded and bright. I was like let’s go but M had good reasons to try and get in. Her friends were there and not answering her calls. She had to stay out until 3.30 am and then take a flight. She wanted company and she wanted to say goodbye.
We decided to give it another chance. I told her maybe she should try on her own, that it was more likely that way. But we ended up trying together, the three of us. I smelled like yesterday’s cigarettes and looked bloated. Uh oh, I thought.
We knocked on the door one more time. It was the same duo of apologetic, frustrated, teeth grinding thin assistants who were not used to bouncer work, weren’t being paid enough for this shit. Then Tillmans himself walked up the stairs, holding a glass of wine and half a cigarette. He told us to leave in a polite, firm German manner. We finally got the message. He was still talking when I backed away and began walking towards the bus stop.
We walked away and were laughing a bit and I don’t know, I laughed and it felt like it was really funny and I didn’t give a fuck but I didn’t want to be too happy about it because it might also feel like a real defeat and I didn’t know how the others felt about it. I turn rejection into identity, energy and drive. I compared and contrasted with previous rejections. Affirmed outsider status is a fountain of youth.
It was not an exclusion from a group of peers which would have been serious, more an exclusion from a museum of past achievements and current bottom-feeding.
The energy that drew people to the party: 1995 and Kate Moss and skinhead looking young gays, bleached denim, suspenders. Quaint nostalgia for comprehensible Gen X image production. A time when ‘fine art photography’ was a thing.
(Photocopies, analogue techniques, merging high and low and using direct flash or whatever natural light is there. Some abstraction. And he is really good or that brand is really good, but the brand is also laid to rest in this glorified suburb. The exchange of ideas that can no longer be had. The price of market value is the death of content.)
I was not a person in their eyes. Just thirsty scum. Another nobody looking for ways to leech off the abilities of others.
This attempt at social climbing was in drastic contrast to the quaker meeting: breathing backs and coughs and churning stomachs no talking no personal brands no listed achievements no names on the doors no ways to be unique and good or ways to be those things but not moreso than others. Looking for light like photography never could.
M thought I saw something morally reprehensible or petty in people’s behavior. The way the group split up. The way people ditched each other and fucked their ‘communities’ over to be able to access more VIP set-ups. I said that I didn’t really mind. I was more surprised by my own boundless optimism than other people’s thirst for elevated status, I said. Secretly I judged them.
I felt lazy and unwilling to attend tiresome openings and afterparties and gallery dinners because I did truly believe we were the future. That success would find us or meet us halfway at least. Or that there was no need to succeed in order to live. That Marxism or whatever consisted of defending the ‘unsuccessful’ majority’s right to happiness. I sounded convincing and almost believed what I was saying.
The thirst and struggle London was fueled by had nothing to do with content, substance, intellectual projects, meaningful debate. I was only interested in things that I was interested in and these things did not include my financial future.
M said that I should see the power of my outsider position and I said that I could not claim to be an outsider. It was not a coincidence that I was in London now, during ‘Frieze week’. Not earlier or later. I was a conflicted person.
Later I thought about it from a different angle and realized that there was a confidence in me that related to this feeling of being outside in a deeper way. That no matter what connections I made or what I could ‘achieve’ through gaming the art system I would always feel disconnected from its core. That I could never truly buy into it, and that the Art World would always be turned off by the ambiguity of the Warez that I was selling. Was this a promise I was making to myself? Why was I so sure about it? Maybe it was the only way to think that allowed me to continue.
I thought again about the Quaker meeting and about how people seemed beautiful and dignified and a bit scary. Collective will and the search for a higher connection rendered people beautiful.
It was easy to construct this binary: people walking out of Tillmans’s house, the cokehead gallerists and boyfriends of shithead former love interests, the stressed assistants; they weren’t ugly by any means but they weren’t glowing like the Quakers. Art hustlers were grey like the October that enveloped them. Not earth bound but not floating either. A frustrated middle. I always had to idealize one group while shitting on another.
(and M says yeah like you shouldn’t read anything into this, nothing exceptional happened here and i’m like yeah that’s true it’s just funny because of the contrast to this whole quaker thing, that i set out to avoid the structure, to do something else, but then to remember about myself that oh yeah i am really thirsty and desperate too and falling flat on my face with that, like this rejection that i live for. like wanting it enough to appear as someone who wants it but not wanting it enough to get it, which will leave me in that awkward middle space where most people reside. so i don’t feel alone at least. one day yr #trending the next day zero likes.)
Desperation and hope against all odds, despite all we knew about neoliberal career games: that 99 out of a 100 would lose.
My ambition is not mine. It’s what I’m a slave to. People get fooled into unpaid internships, dead end precarious art careers, student debt. The promise is that you are unique, you are worth it. You find out that some people are more unique than others. The economy has gone to shit and is only booming for 0.1%. The middle class will be a historical anomaly. London doesn’t run on wages anymore. Cultural workers are not driven by consumption but by desire for some abstract idea of self-fulfillment and a sense of meaning. How to make people work 15 hours a day in the service of their ‘personal brand’ while they barely make rent. How to make them psychologize their failures quickly enough to not see a larger pattern here.
Everyone’s in debt to the institutions that lied to them and made them self-critical in a paralyzing way (Goldsmiths, etc.). Most already know that it’s a debt they will default on. The promise of self-fullfillment revealed itself to be a ponzi scheme.
JP: i’m not thinking about this because i think that i’m going to lose
i’m thinking about this because collectively speaking 99 out of a 100 will lose
and those who will lose will include people that i love
and most likely me as well
and what’s the point of winning if you win over your peers.
the only thing exceptional/noteworhty bout this rejection was how clear it was
usually art world rejection comes in a highly impersonal / institutional form
the social rejetion is usually more implicit and even subtly encouraging
the hierarchy desires determined young sluts and will feed them crumbs to keep their hopes up
they don’t want young hopefuls to lose interest because that would lead them to gravitate towards other engines of meaning production
the usual case is that the wolfgangs of the world don’t want us to come in but don’t want us to leave either
just want us exactly where we are, standing behind the door
clawing at it with our anemic limp wrists
it was refreshing to bluntly request something that you weren’t supposed to have (access 2 this party) and to be denied it
it was refreshing to be told to fuck off
i felt really young
I woke up the day after the events and was ill. It was the standing outside, my stress level, poor eating and drinking, not taking care of myself. My throat hurt. I cancelled my plans and stayed in. I was browsing Tumblr from my bed and then fell asleep.
I had a dream where I was sitting on a white sofa. There was a glass coffee table in front of me. A complex white rug under it. My macbook was on the coffee table. It had its lid closed.
Wolfgang Tillmans walked into the room. He sat next to me. He took my laptop and looked at it without opening it. Which constellation is that? he asked. I looked closer and noticed that there were small dots of light, like stars, shining trough the outer shell of the computer. I don’t know, I said. I think it’s Libra, he said.
Metaphorically, Libra the Scales serves as an age-old symbol of divine justice, harmony and balance.
Libra is the only zodiac sign that does not symbolize a living creature.