MG: A brief introduction to this evening, sorry for my english,   this is one of the events or meetings that we intorno are organizing. Intorno is a group of people, artists, curators and friends; it's been three months since we started organizing something every week, it means meeting someone or making something together. For this evening, we wanted to introduce a discussion on the concept of community and groups or working together in artistic practices. We have some questions that we make   ourselves...(boat noise)

I present the guests, Giorgio Agamben, Molly Nesbit, Phillip Parreno, Pyerre Huyghe, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and some students following the workshop organized by the Domus Academy.

RIRKRIT: we must not forget our spiritual guidance, Maurizio Nanucci from Base Firenze.

MG: For the people who have not read the questions we prepared for tonight, we have to say as a first thing that nowadays it is really strong to use this word community and to work on relationships in artistic practice. This use of the words and concepts, the will to work on relationships is just to try to build a consciousness of the community.

IRENE: Yes the intention in this kind of practice is to change the consciousness of community, it's a way to stay together, work together.   We feel that when also theory uses this terms like "relationships" or "Relational aesthetics" we don't reflect so much about these concepts. That's is why we have invited Giorgio Agamben in relation to his book The Coming Community, what does community mean? We ask ourselves about the role of the individual of the person and singularity inside the community.    Because we know that the artist is also the image of the individual, who works, how do you feel working together and stay as an individual?    There is a kind of, something near in your different practices, as theorists and artists?

RIRKRIT: artists not first


GA: When MG asked me to speak about those two themes: community and also community   of people who work together, I thought about this idea of work, is there such a thing as work of the   man ? I am referring here, there is a passage of a very famous philosophical treatise by Aristotle, the book of ethics he asks a very simple question, he says, for a man who plays the guitar or for a man who makes statues, sculptures, or for a man who makes shoes, its very clear what is the work. Its playing the piano, making shoes, etc. etc. But then he asks is there a work for man as such? Man as such, not for this particular kind of man. Its very interesting, question, then he says   perhaps there is not such a thing as work for what we define as man as such perhaps   man as such, in Greek there is a word argos which means "without work" no work, is a privative, there is no work for man as such. Then I though of the reflection of the French philosopher Jean Luc Nancy in the inactive community (la communauté inactive), the attempt to think of a community which will not be defined by some common work. So the first question would be to take a game seriously the question of Aristotle of asking is there a work which will define man as such. Or man is rather inactive, absolutely workless. Argos can also mean   inactive in the sense   of doing nothing, lazy, but technically   is no work, there is not such a thing as a work that will realize the man and the idea, the ergon is something that realizes the potentiality of man as such. There is no such thing for man as such so the question with an interesting meaning is how can you think of a community which will refuse any definition by find this or that work of art, or religious work, or political work so there is no vocation that could exhaust or define this term. So this could be the first thing to discuss, I think. This doesn't mean that the first answer could be, ok if there is no work that should define man so let's do nothing.

PARRENO: That's Rirkrit's answer.

(Laughs again)

GA: The idea of taking the concept of ozium , the greek's Kolé , which is not to do nothing. So this would be the first idea, but on the contrary, an interesting thing would be a question like that: ok there is no work for man as such but what will this demand which will be the concept ness , if there is no work that will define man what does this mean, there is a kind of exigency coming from those, the absence, the wordlessness,   man contains an exigency to which we have to respond, there is no work that's why , this could be the first answer,   man is a political being because he has no work. So this is a first question, I know that you are particularly inactive.

RIRKRIT: active!

PARRENO: don't talk about Buddhism...

RIRKRIT: You see, I am totally lazy I can't even answer that. Uhmmmm, maybe Molly.

PARRENO: That's why we decided to make an entire workshop of three days without even speaking.

GA:   I have the impression that the artist today in respond to this you can not say that there is a work of art, contemporary art is the negation of work

HUYGHE: We have to define what work is.

GA: I mean it in a good sense, there is no more ergon a work that realize the potentiality of man and now I create a work, and its there, it exists, The tour has been precisely the coding question precisely in the practices of modern art beginning already with Duchamp, is not today, Duchamp when asked what are you he said I am a man who breaths. Un respiratore....this identification is the negation of work.

NANUCCI: But also Leonardo da Vinci when introduced himself to the Sforza in Milano he send a letter in which he mentioned all his capacities to be an architect, to have the control of the water, I forgot the rest but the last one was "ah also painter".

NESBIT: But you know what is interesting actually this nothing of Rirkrit's is always a little something not a big but a little something.

GA: He is not completely lazy.

RIRKRIT: That's the problem

NESBIT: So I think part of   is this idea of the work I am thinking about   a sense of scale of reversive scale what's clear to me of my friends on my regard is the pretension is not there, you know its , let's call it modesty...

PARRENO: or negotiation maybe, permanent negotiation in the terms in which we work or not work.

FRANCESCA: what would you say about the figure in the community which doesn't work but wants to serve the community there is always this sort of woman to which or the man to which the community speaks to...

GA: man to?

FRANCESCA: the woman or the man or a figure in a community to which people feel most comfortable to speak to this person. She or he is not necessarily making shoes or making music, but she's a character which makes her a person easily approachable. She would count as a priest in her beautiness in her religious...

GA: no a priest no...

FRANCESCA: no, no, this is a very Italian way to refer to a priest but this does not necessarily mean that if you are not working in the community you actually don't have a role in the community because you can be someone just by not working, you know, there is also that power within the community.

GA: The implication was not necessary that you must do nothing it is kind of center of connective centre of work, the real thing would be to be able to show this centre of connectivity and not simply do nothing (the ability to do this is something bizarre)

RIRKRIT: I mean to take on that role the others would understand what their role is.
So that they have actually someone to take a look forward to who never works. But I think in a way inactivity, I mean there is always activity, there is always working, to do nothing is a kind of work is not a function but a process of being.

HUYGHE: its a shift, the way you define a work again the way you position yourself to what you define a work, it might be the guy who makes shoes, the guy who makes a chador, or the companion on the front, but its the way you position yourself to an activity, whatever we call the activity of work. Or whatever we call the activity an ending line, or what we define doing nothing but still....So its square its small what we define as work...

GA: The idea because it is not necessary either ness

HUYGHE: no, no I understand

GIORGIO: To change the measure of a thing, is a different way of considering the work. The work to which we respond

HUYGHE: the way we define a frame, whatever this frame allowed an object to be made, or the way this frame allowed time to exist.

PARRENO: the things that produce reality

SILVIA: but what does it mean to produce reality?

GA: There is still a difference, in a work of art you can say that the potentiality is not exhausted, yes the work keeps its potentiality inside, the work is impossible

HUYGHE: Yes, for example if your work ends up in an object you can't say that, its exhausted, its closed in itself


GA: the properties of defining incidentally...

GASTON: is about being whatever or about doing something? It's like there are some cultures where if you don't do something for the community you are not actually part of the community so you have to be a productive part of the community which works for the community so I was thinking that these kind of cultures don't accept artistic figure doing incidental work, so if you are not doing something practical or in a pragmatical way you are not a political figure, what do you think about this, is not so occidentally centered this discussion?

GASTON: Its like if you're producing something useful for the community, your role, your visibility is very defined and accepted. Otherwise if you are just a thinker, you know its not so clear.

HUYGHE: In Africa there are this mad people that you don't put in asylum and they are there in the village and they are the nuts people of the town...

FRANCESCA: but they are still not whatever though, they are still something..

HUYGHE: I am saying that these people have at least a role in the village, they are the nuts people, they are on the bench, they are absolutely doing nothing but still, they are part, a minimum of this community.

MG: You think that the size of the concept of producing or doing something can be in connection with the idea or the imagine of doing anything, not to work is a problem that today is like being something, you have to have an identity, you have to be identified in some way. I mean its so difficult to think on the whatever because in any case even if you are a community or a group you have to be identified in some ways.

NESBIT: But you can be everything at once, inevitably as you walk through the world people are going to put you in one role or another whether you're a tourist in Venice, or you're a mother or you're a student, I mean it sort of goes with the territory, but the question is what you decide to do with it in your own mind. And that's where it gets interesting because if you stop worrying about whether you've got a label and stop thinking about the label being the defining term or the only term someone else gets to use, for your work or as a worker and you allow yourself to have zones of whatever then I think we are talking about freedom of the whatever. There are zones of possibility of potentiality in terms of the way you think about your own work.

MG: I think that is also in connection with art, it could be a problem of recognition. Sometimes if you want to go on you are sometimes obliged to be recognized

NESBIT: I don't think you feel obliged to be recognized

PARRENO: No. But maybe you should talk about the whatever cause it seems as a "negation", it can shift from the whatever identity and its not so easy to catch, its a kind of complex concept.

GA: Its very difficult to understand a magician or terror simply this adjectives like chacun , whatever, so logically it is very difficult to define. A whatever being would be a being which is only his manner of being. Not some sociality not his identity, previous identity just he has to be his own way of being. Its a very ethical, it is a very serious person, the person who is only his own way of being, its very ethical, the definition of ethos...

(Someone says life....)

NICOLA SETARI: In a scenario in which there are no vocations because at the end I think this course is leading into this, that there is not something that accomplishes the person as a destiny in some way isn't that something that it generates a situation in which everyone wants to be an artist, I think that there is a loss of particular vocation then the situation that we will find ourselves always more towards is that everybody would want to be an artist or an artist of living as we often hear today, so the question is isn't there a problem that so many people, I hear of friends who have a job and they say oh I'm going to leave my job and go be an artist cause...if there aren't any real vocations then is rather an artist or maybe a philosopher, which is even harder to...

GA: help us less, but why there is no reason for that, why artists or thinkers so it means...

NESBIT: It   doesn't   mean artists actually, it means something else, its a better desire not to be..

FRANCESCA: that's like the point in life is to find a desire right? You don't need your job because you   don't want to have a job, you need a job because its not what you desire and its what you go and look for and if they say oh yeah I'm gonna leave my job and gonna be an artist it doesn't necessarily mean they are going to be an artist, that's a way of saying I don't want   to work   from 9 to 5

RIRKRIT: I am going to be cool

FRANCESCA: yeah, whatever, it might not work, they might find a desire in   doing nothing that will keep them going..

SETARI: I don't know there seems to be a translation of an absence of vocation

GA: Not necessarily, for instance when Paul at the beginning of the Christian community has to define what does it mean to live as a Christian he simply says: are you married? Just go on being married, you have a house just go on having a house, are you laughing just go on laughing; but then he adds you should do this as not. Are you laughing but as not laughing, are you married, as not married, it doesn't mean that you become an artist. Its   a way of keeping your condition but in the form of as if not

SETTARI: maybe is sociological as an observation

GA: this is not sociological

SETTARI: no no, what I was saying, it's an impression that I have.

UNKNOWN GIRL: There is no problem with that

SETARI: I am asking   not saying its a problem, I am saying though it might be an interesting phenomenon that more people, actually what Gaston was saying that more people can have the liberty of not feeling that they need to find a place in the productive system, that's happening always more, it seems to me there is a tendency to translate that in being a creative person so immediately being an artist and maybe there is something wrong with that, i am asking

PARRENO: that's a kind of privilege

GA: not true art play is a commodity

NESBIT: but not in the way we are talking about it now, I come from NYC which has a well developed art market


NESBIT: its roles in a professional system and establishing financial values for work produced is very structured, and we are not talking about art in that way right now because we are idealists and if we are going to start talking about a particular economy then we should talk   very specifically, if we are not going to talk about that particular kind of economy then we should   make clear that we are not. I think what gets interesting about the work of my friends on the sofa, to my right is that they participate in that economy and they don't ...

GA:   as if not, they participate as if not


NESBIT: like the association of freed time are reached through a mechanism of collaboration so they are not working as if whatever   alone, and then I think it might be something profitable to talk about in a group because we are not alone here either and the search for some kind of collectivity is very strong and it pulls people around Rirkrit's work like flies but there is a magnetism to this idea. But what happened as a result, just tell a story maybe, what happens when you make an association of freed time? And time is freed, work is done, I mean its a concrete experience, an old experiment but its not over is it, that experiment?

HYUGHE: its something that happened and disappeared, it reappeared and disappeared, it something we created in '95

PARRENO: there were different strategies and Rirkrit's may be clearly defined, he is like a singular kind of artist, even though he collaborates within his work with people he is never been engaged with before, he is also collaborating with some of the artists, engaging but also losing control, and negotiating on the terms of the   art. So there are two different levels of collaborations, so to speak in your terms he works but as if not. When we work together at the beginning first we have to get a project which is maybe a condition for an object to exist, and its also the fact that during this time when we start like to engage in a construction of something that we all sign, people are clearly identified as speakers so you need both of the statements, you need to be ready for an adventure and sometimes you have to be really singular.

HUYGHE: its like dissemble and reform, so its more dynamic in a certain way, you need a dynamic for changing from group to group otherwise a group becomes a singularity.

GIRL: can you give a specific example from you talking about your work, I feel the conversation although great, but goes up here and it would be nice to also hear specific examples, would that be possible?

RIRKRIT: I am trying to figure why am I being here, I am trying to be as lazy as possible, I am trying to stay out of it.

HUYGHE: we could talk about no ghost just a shell project or association of freed time ....all the projects which involve a collaboration....

GIRL: and was the outcome as you expected?

PARRENO: no never, you never know exactly where you're going. And there is never happy ending, its negotiating, its an endless move

HUYGHE: its not a stable position, that's why Phillip says you have to renegotiate each time, its a condition in which you can exchange something....that's part of the dynamics

GA: Would you say there is something similar to the original, for instance, situationists'   idea of creating just a situation?

PARRENO: of creating?

HUYGHE: just a situation for the situation itself. There is something with the situationists, which is this idea of the game, as the centric sense of art in a way.

GA: This original project was abandoned, left but at the beginning it was just this. To create situations, the derive, walking with no end but then it was left...

PARRENO: it was directed, it was focused against spectacle or against the commodities...

GA: this came later the first one was abandoned and only this second one remained....

NESBIT: Well partly because the situationists needed to refine a politics in relation to the flow of the dense political events in history so they began to position their thoughts in their situations, then it became more complicated in terms of what they needed...

GA: At the beginning they seemed more concerned with the everyday life...

HUYGHE: Also its very interesting about the derive, the everyday life is the derive, that's what you're talking about, for sure...

PARRENO:   the basis of the situationists are the surrealists and their tool is the corpse,   that's the only way to picture the unconsciousness of the group, so you follow something which is the derive idea, you follow something or somebody takes some lead, and others follow so they are no free scenarios no free plans. Like something leads you to something else, leads you to something else, leads you to something else. There is a great movie by Richard Linklater

HYUGHE: it's a portrait of a town...

PARRENO: but the idea that the camera goes ahead following one director and this leads you to follow another director, and this to another. So at the end you have a portrait of maybe 100 directors that the movie pictured through this sort of derive idea, and the central idea is how all these people negotiate the fact that they share the picture which is a movie right? And the town they are living in...but as soon as you do it you have to do it again because its like temporary so the more you say here we are, as soon as you've said it you have to start again.

NESBIT: its like breathing right?

FRANCESCA: But if it comes consciously or unconscious that's the point in a way because you can say here we are and start again without knowing it   and it can be a loop forever and that's how some communities live, in a way, not in a loop, but that's putting it slightly to...

GIRL: Also I think is interesting the idea of control, how much you are willing to control in your work as well, do you feel you are able to control all the situations or   do you realize that things will just happen.

HUYGHE: Its both things you can't say that if you control totally the situation then nothing will raise the probability of accidents,   you don't control it then

GA: its no that if you don't control you are going to get nothing

HUYGHE: exactly

MG: can you say that maybe in your work or that maybe in relationships   you can take conscious of the community, can you say that? This is also the second question because if you feel that you are working in a community because as for myself I intend to work in a community to enlarge the field my work just to define or to risk my own

HYUGHE: but you don't risk a lot

PARRENO: that's the thing that surprises me always in seminars and schools people, artists not people always have this idea like how do you do to challenge ideas, or co-sign like an artwork, there is always a risk , if you work for a year and like blurring like the copyright issue ...

FRANCESCA: so what is the risk? The one they think you are taking

PARRENO: something about loosing,

(NESBIT says professional suicide)

HYUGHE: yeah like this idea about potentiality

PARRENO: in a game you have nothing to loose or to gain in that game so its always pleasurable. Like in '95

RIRKRIT: I just want to say because you're saying that work on a relationship, but I would say that its not work, I mean you are in the situation so one said that one would have to work in that sense but rather that one is in it.   So I would say that probably there is a difference in terms of how one is in that situation. So for us is not work, we are in a relationship, so we can talk about authorship, we can question identity within that situation but because is not work its perhaps more a structure that I would say is natural for me to be in it but to work in it.

PARRENO: If you'd be a   musician then it would be different writing sonata or symphony, like for us, to work in a collaborative way, is polyphonic. Its not like questioning like in the 60's or 70's its not a question of authorship or copyright issues , is more like an attempt to be more polyphonic like a symphony like to be tuned as equals, so then we have singular works and sometimes we are like a sonata kind of way.

HYUGHE: And you need the sonata in order to be polyphonic, absolutely otherwise the polyphony sounds the same

MG: in that sense I have another question if the work can be in some way comparable with the work created, it doesn't necessarily mean to create an object it can mean to create a situation. And as I was saying before for me work in terms of creating a relationship for me it means to go a little bit outside of myself and it means to enlarge myself and it means also to question my making art with what was called as public. So it means working on relationships means working with other people which are artists and then asking myself what is my relationship between these artists and the public

IRENE: Yes you are talking about the relationship between your work and also building a community maybe something before you working as an artist did not exist before but you build; but   now which is the real bridge between this art community and changing   the scales between your community as artists and the enlargement to be community of the public whose in relation with your work and that's immediate with the work of Rirkrit , he involves all these people together inside his work. Nowadays all these artists working in the public sphere, talking about it and working with the local community, analyzing the place and working site specific maybe I can build a community a local community or solving problems but then we ask ourselves in which way this can be really realized and also in terms of Agamben's question of the community. When you say ok I work with the local community, what do you mean that this community exists before you or it doesn't exist but you build it?

PARRENO: I think that if you put like that you go to a failure in some way

IRENE: I am asking because there are many theoretical analyses on this like these artists who wok site specific , for example Atelier van Liesout, in the Netherlands there are examples on this kind of social work and they involve other people in their projects which   are not from the art community, and sometimes they I am not saying that they pretend, but sometimes the reflections on it put the artist as a connoisseur,   so this is my question, when you work with people how do you question, not using them or using them in a neutral way?

HUYGHE: I can answer that because I just made something in   a place I found,   a new community arriving, it was like a new town, and I just arrived at the beginning of this new town and I was trying to play, play a custom game like in Halloween. But there is no naivety behind that to think what I'm going to do is for. Doing for is in some way what the television is doing, to do something for. So I don't think we are actually working for, you think about what the needs of the audience as an example of Sony, you are checking the needs of the audience and you give what they need, so its basically always a medium, so you take the common denominator and end up having a great offer in a certain way, a fake offer, so that's the macro system. I don't think we are as naïve as...and television is not naïve but we are3 not working in that sense; even if I had to deal in a community I would still work on something I am building not for them.

PARRENO: when an artist says he works for the community it sounds like a bad anthropological notion...its not that I work for, like Wodiczko...

HUYGHE: maybe no one knows him, which is better like that.

FRANCESCA: But I want to know why Irene has asked this question, have you thought about the usefulness of it?

IRENE: Well I do ask myself about the artists' social implications in a community.

GA: It seems to me that you leave out there a lot of presuppositions, as if there are first the singular person, the subject of the artist, then there is a community then they enter a relation; and this concept of relations should be question. A relation cannot mean there are first men and then relations, rather the relations come first or they are not interesting. Generally I don't like the concept of relation I prefer the concept of touch. Being in contact, touché, Relation is very bad, I mean if you have a relation with a woman it's a catastrophe but if you touch a woman is better. I am not joking, is just that all the problems of the social are posed in terms of relations. Why don't we think of the community in terms of no relations, the common comes first, then comes the individual; ontological not because is more important at all, because it's a construction made definition I like about art is that it serves to make life be more interesting than art.            





Trascrizione della discussione, in riferimento all'evento Man as such