Bored of tomorrow: Contemporary Fiction
On the 27th of June, the Project Space Festival will host guided tours through the Monopol buildings and grounds in Reinickendorf: a half-abandoned spirits factory, bought by a famous “mid-career biennale artist,” soon to be an arts and co-living space / gentrification-incubator “only 20 minutes away from Alexanderplatz, the gallery district, and many trendy bars and cafes.” I will be one of those tour guides.
I am bored of the future, running from the past; feeling depressed keeping up with the 24-hour news cycle, but anxious to know of all the horror that’s going on in the world right at this very minute, slotting every terrible event into my predetermined political-economical-ethical analysis, computing, then generating an appropriate excoriating Facebook rant (now with dynamic colourful backgrounds: helpful to be heard over the amplifying echoes in the chamber).
I recently read a harshly critical essay on race and Contemporary Music which expressed eloquently all that I’ve been feeling, agreed vehemently, and shared it to my timeline. Afraid of the future, ten minutes later I deleted it, already playing out in my head all the permutations of the arguments in which I would have to participate, “beat me up in the comments section below.” Also, I was worried that no one at all would read, like, comment.
I’m trying to live in the present tension. I’m trying to be conscious in all that I do, in every precarious moment, focusing on every hyperventilated breath. Moving debate and analysis offline into the fleshy sphere has proven difficult, as the eye contact, let alone the attention of my interlocutors is elusive, invested in their own wars of attrition fought at 280 characters a barrage, new salvos dinging and vibrating through my attempted eloquence. Blame should not be apportioned though, we all have our own battles to fight.
One of my all-time favourite jokes (click here for the whole listicle) is Christmas-themed. Or it’s Buddhist-themed, I can’t decide. Please indulge me...
Q. What did the Buddha say at Christmas?
A. The past? Forget about the past because you can’t change the past. The future? Forget about the future because you can’t predict the future. The present? Forget about the present because I didn’t get you anything.
Upon reflection, the joke could actually be birthday-, anniversary-, Valentine’s-, or any gift-giving-event-themed. Doesn’t make it any less funny though, does it?
There are winners and losers in gentrification just as there are in the Contemporary Art game, “mid-career biennale artists” and “market darlings” are like those pioneer Bitcoin gamblers making bank – and breaking banks – on Blockchain and empty buildings in the present tension outskirts of geography and imagination. Anybody can win. Losing takes humility, dignity, and grace.
Remoras, also known as sucker fish, are small fish that attach themselves to sharks, turtles, manta rays, whales, and dugongs. They remove ectoparasites and loose skin from their hosts, in return receiving protection and a free ride. It was once thought that Remoras survived off eating the scraps from their hosts’ meals, but we now know that they sustain themselves by eating their hosts’ shit. Feel free to apply the metaphor however you wish.
In some cultures, throughout East Africa and Northern Australia, people use Remoras to catch turtles. A rope is fastened to the tail of the fish and the hunter holds the other end of the rope. The Remora is then set free into the water, its instinct being to seek out a host turtle amongst those known to swim in the area. That sucker of a fish attaches itself to the first turtle it sees, and the heavy hand of metaphor holding the other end of the rope reels them both in.
So, what does it mean for the Project Space Festival to invite artists to give guided tours through our present tension symbiotic host body / future tense ravenous Leviathan? We will be small-p performing non-artistic tasks, yet without separate non-artistic bodies, incomes, and class consciousnesses, this labour can’t be divorced from the wider economy. I have no answers now and probably won’t after the fact (loath as I am to project into that tense future), only another question: are we the bait or the hook?
Trip to Monopol. by Rishin Singh.
Rishin Singh is an artist and musician living in Berlin. He has a complicated relationship with language. www.rishinsingh.com