Fading revolt in the walled garden

Category : blogging · by Jun 8th, 2014

I recently published Karen Blissett is Revolting, an interview described as “incendiary”, on New Criticals as part of their Lady Justice series.

It provoked quite a reaction on Facebook as people shared their disquiet about her new work and the political contexts that (she claims) necessitated its creation.

They also posted links to other articles and artworks inspired by her tactical use of multiple identity.

In a week where the breaking news was about the new European right for individuals to disappear from Google I was irked by the obverse effect. Whilst exchanges over email list, wikis or community blogs are usually retrievable, in FB the infinite scroll makes it very difficult to find  pithy insights and historical connections even only a week later. It’s also considered bad form to publish outside of FB what was shared within its walled garden. This has led me to reflect on the anti-historical and antisocial impact of dominant social media platforms.


Here are a selection of the comments (with permission from their originators) about Karen Blissett is Revolting.

Ricardo Ruiz: “In May 25 of 2014 at 02:08 he published a letter where he announced that that would be his last public appearance. He mentioned that the Subcomandante Marcos personality has been a hologram and the EZLN doesn’t need his image anymore. The letter is signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano who died a few days earlier in an ambush. It is said that Galeano mentioned that he would’ve returned in collective form.

May 27 at 10:54am · Unlike · 2

“Against death, we demand life.

Against silence, we demand the word and respect.

Against oblivion, memory”

Ricardo Dominguez: I use to write art reviews under the name of Karen Eliot (a utopian plagiarist sign). Here is a rant review I just found by old KE (me) at thing.net in the 1990’s on the show “History of Sex”.
May 27 at 11:46am · Unlike · 3


Tim Waterman: My pal Ruth Catlow interviews the incendiary Karen Blissett – there is some really fiery stuff here. I can also recommend this because it is fascinating to read something written by an artist whose voice is inhabited by many others. Blissett – forgive me, Karen – is perhaps a little unrealistic about the reach of her work in places, but her anger is well aimed.
May 27 at 11:56am ·Unlike · · Share
You, Annie Abrahams and Karen Blissett like this.

Alan Sondheim: let’s not forget Antiorp –
May 27 at 4:41pm · Unlike · 4

Alan Sondheim: Something bothers me about the piece, I’m speaking from the U.S. which is vile – that it’s too easy, that it’s entertainment. Given the state of crisis pretty much everyone is in, with the rise of the right, I worry that all of our gestures that privilege art (and a gallery’s mentioned) – just collapse. I don’t know what the answer is but we have to do more if we’re going to keep at the very least gnawing at the edges of enclaved capital. The pain in the streets – take downtown Providence where I live – is palpable, particularly in a state with the highest rate of unemploymet and highest rate of dissatisfaction. I don’t think the video goes far enough – at least here it would be dismissed or treated as a joke. On the other hand the language of the video is brilliant and cuts as much as any militarese. –
May 27 at 4:52pm · Unlike · 1

Marc Garrett: Hi Alan, well the Karens have a will of their own & decide how they make the work. Although – I do know that it could be a matter of time when even more Karens come along pushing things further – the identity is there for others to explore
May 27 at 6:44pm · Like · 2

Jennifer Chan: wowww guide2seniormanagement is fab; how did i not know about this
May 28 at 9:01am · Unlike · 2

Jennifer Chan: kind of agree with alan on how there’s a huge (americanish) humilitainment vibe initially, but male-identified artists get away with making (ironic) detached work that pokes fun at corporate (branding) structures all the time I enjoy how there is little room for irony or ambivalence here, it really appeases the 99% haha
May 28 at 9:15am · Unlike · 3

Ruth Catlow Yes Jennifer Chan we could do with more artworks that appease the 99%. I also GET Alan’s point – but I think that there is a role for artworks that are passionately critical-I am utterly convinced by Karens’ feverish fury… and that this is not an indulgent, trivial, or self-regarding.
May 28 at 9:28am · Like · 1

Tim Waterman: As one of the appeased 99% I’d just like to say that this work by Karen Blissett hurts so good. It’s like having a safety valve for excess bile. On the other hand, it makes me feel justified in my own anger – and I want to start firing these sorts of salvos myself. It’s a nice, naked, raw bit of revolutionary art. With penises in it.
May 28 at 9:46am · Like · 3

McKenzie Wark via Marc Garrett
May 27 at 11:31am ·

Ruth Catlow: But why the penises?

Karen Blissett: We did think about vaginas but it had to be penises.



(1) Comment

Heather Corcoran
10 years ago · Reply

Good discussion. Dragan Espenschied has been thinking about & working on this problem… : http://rhizome.org/editorial/2014/may/29/preserving-facebook-criticism/ (some discussion in the comments, too – including Tom Moody’s conclusion that “The decision to move new media discussion, announcements, etc to Facebook has already happened.”, which I would say arguably makes archiving strategies as important as they are possible).

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