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The Art of Lawlessness – Epilogue

“The first thing we need to leave is the desire of belonging”

My epilogue starts with this quote by Mårten Spångberg, famous choreographer, also an interview partner in Amsterdam, who, in essence, proposes an escape, that I would call ‘a double exodic action’: Not only has one to refrain from being part of this world, but one also has to reject the longing for doing so. Spångberg criticizes the dependencies of artists, mostly, but also of academics: Depending on people, institutions, environments and systems who or which are not worth it, verbatim “who/which we hate”.

So, here we have, explicitly, this idea of leaving, of escaping, which, I think, played a central role during our discussions, but was nevertheless never debated directly or broadly. I would argue in this context that the concept of justice as well as the concept of politics and even more the concept of art as debated in our event suggested what I would call an exodic relation to law, to reality, to the establishment – and this in a triple sense: Firstly, justice, politics and art escape per definitionem the sphere of the real, of its rules and norms; secondly, justice, politics and art have to necessarily escape the sphere of the real in order to operate and to exist as they suppose to, and finally, the subject of justice, politics and art – here the subject being the work of art or the artistic product – has to escape in order to act as such. I consider the exit of the subject to be a major step for establishing and sustaining the vital contradiction.

Of what does this escape or better the exodus I am talking about consist? This exodus, which has a biblical origin, and has influenced and troubled some of the more prominent – and from my point of view – interesting contemporary intellectuals. There are three things to emphasize here by way of closing remarks. First: Exodus is a “proactive exit” as argued by Paolo Virno. It is a direct, straightforward act of abandoning a sphere of existence. In this very sense, it is vital, I would argue, to claim the dominance of lawlessness and to define it from the perspective of the lawless subject. Only in this sense, it can become a dangerous and threatening place. Second: Exodus institutes an inherent relationship to revolutionary aspirations, as Michael Walzer showed in the beautiful book on Exodus and Revolution by tracing the exodic moment in various revolutionary contexts. Finally: Exodus’s fundamental moment is probably not ‘leaving Egypt’ or arriving to the ‘promised land’, but the time of ‘wandering around in the desert’. One has to insist on the existential need to wander around in the desert; to insist on the awkwardness and speechlessness in the face of the unintelligible and in the face of the non-utterable. Exodus is about refusing to participate in giving names and definitions to the unspeakable – justice, politics, art…; it is about getting lost after the madness of a decision, as Derrida would say.



(November 2014)