Virginia Roy

Curator, MUAC: Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico

 The strength of the hunger

(Marina Garcés took the title from the prologue of the book “El Doble”, by Antonio Artaud)

Garces empahasizes the etymology of the word culture (linked to life, to cultivate), and the need to put it at the same level of vital need. In the construction of the national state, culture gives shape to the collective life of that state. This happened in the following context: on one hand, the ecclesiastical power shifted to the institutional power of the bourgeoisie, the new social class. Besides, the people as a status category was transformed to a national category. Also, there is a new redefinition of the labor relationship (with the industrial revolution) and the people become workers (with new needs for training, reading …). Finally, history becomes a narrative and culture a historical condition. In this context, cultural institutions have the mission of giving shape to the political subject of the modern state, a subject as a citizen, worker and as a people, the 3 new modern political meanings.

Culture is a new form of obedience, an acceptance of the common order, a voluntary servitude, following La Boitie. From the previous vassalage, feudal and ecclesiastical, the new subject is a free servant but linked to the social contract and labor contract. Thus, culture gives autonomy to the subject, but at the same time creates self-obedience, free obedience to consumption or to entrepreneurship. It is a matter, then, of being free servants, or rather servile.

Hegel defines culture as liberation against desire, subjectivity and taste, that which brings us to the concrete (that implied to be freed from universalism and to integrate into the state particularities).

Garcés wonders how to get out and break those places. She takes as an example a fictional character of Diderot, a character who does not hide his hypocrisy and who shows his need (to buy and to sell his wise), he does not hide his precariousness, and he exposes the trength of the hunger. The hungry is not weak, he is strong.

Voluntary servitude is worthy if it is able to set limits, otherwise we will be servile. There is a fine border between servitude and servility.

We have to understand that the public is not a “them”, it is an “us”, a tension where it is possible to meet us. There is a necessary interpellation between what “we are” and what “we do”, it is necessary to disengage the role, and make the role as a commonplace. The responsibility is to open spaces of interpellation, but not only in an exhibition, in every action and decision.

Cultural criticism may have the responsibility of unmasking the work of culture itself.

When we talk about responsibility, we talk about responsibility:

-          Towards the other (people, community, public), but with a delegation and attribution of responsibility. Responsibility as mission, self-emancipation.

-          By.  Culture assumes its co-responsibility and the effects of domination. Responsibility as guilt, which leads to self-unmask, but it can fall into self-justification and self-referential.