Intressant text, många bra grejjer:
".... In effect, the Trump administration has at last solved the conceptual problem originally proposed by the Russian avant-garde and later advanced by the Socialist realists: how to orchestrate a seamless integration of the imaginable and the material, or what art history textbooks commonly refer to, in rosier terms, as the “total synthesis of art and life.” What’s more, it has done so under a devoutly capitalist regime. But if the Soviet era was marked by a cynical veneer of compulsory optimism, our neoliberal epoch is one in which terminal ennui is openly celebrated, whether ambiently, through the flat affect of memes and internet slang, or more measurably, as with the Balkanization of the internet itself into grievance-based identitarian factions.
Taking the Russian analogy to its logical conclusion, we can think of the Trumpian turn from the angle of the late Soviet parodic style known as “stiob,” an overidentification so extreme it’s impossible to tell whether the position it adopts is a genuine endorsement or an elaborate troll. Are Trump’s diplomatic blunders, draconian decrees, and late-night Twitter meltdowns the strategic design of a new breed of authoritarianism that thrives on confusion rather than repression or merely a byproduct of his contempt for the norms of conduct? Is his revolving cabinet of cartoon villains and prop-store cadavers a stylized piece of political theater or just a classic case of professional nepotism? Is he a madman or a mastermind? Either way, Trump performs his own incompetence so well that it makes any attempt at parody seem overdetermined to the point of absurdity. In the process, he exposes the impotence and hypocrisy of his liberal critics, unmasking their piety politics as nothing more than compensatory posturing.
In this climate of nihilism, any act of dissent, whether sincere or calculated, is automatically aestheticized to such a degree that the distinction becomes moot. Take, for instance, the Guggenheim’s gold toilet controversy. Senior curator Nancy Spector denied the White House’s request for a Van Gogh loan, offering instead Maurizio Cattelan’s gold-plated, potty-themed sculpture America, presumably for its formal resonances with Trump’s personal taste. The inside gag no doubt flared off a momentary pang of catharsis and solidarity for art world cognoscenti. But over time, stunts like these only play into the hands of Trump’s populist messaging: elites care more about symbolic progress than they do about meaningful reform.
Having convinced themselves that fascism is back and Russian collusion is everywhere, the art world’s would-be revolutionaries are content to ignore the more systemic dangers lurking among the digital networks that increasingly govern our everyday existence. The viral footprints of initiatives like “Dear Ivanka” and J20 draw their energy from the data we hand over to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, activating an algorithmic power structure that parcels out virtual real estate according to its monetizability. While it’s clear that Trump is a monster of the current moment, his persona represents a throwback to a simpler time when empires went head-to-head and strongmen dominated the world stage. Any truly serious political project to emerge from the art world would do well to start with this uncomfortable reality, taking a long, hard look at its own participation in platform capitalism instead of seeking solace in rehashing the battles of the past."