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'...our fate as a living corpse...' an interview with Boris Groys

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In this interview, Boris Groys discusses his key cultural-theoretical ideas, positions his thought in relation to debates on the cultural economy and clarifies questions emerging from his work. The conversation focuses on his untranslated cultural-theoretical contributions, notably Uber das Neue [On the New] and Topologie der Kunst [Topology of Art], but also touches on his writings available in English, for example Art Power. The interview contains three sections. The first revisits Groys's challenge to the postmodern claim about the end of cultural innovation. He problematizes this claim with reference to the current rise of digital archives and the loss of individual and collective memory. Groys goes on to elucidate the centrality of the ready-made method to cultural innovation. Cultural activity, he argues, constitutes a ritual which promises immortality in a world of perpetual change. Finally, Groys clarifies and illustrates the questions guiding his phenomenological investigation of the 'scene of evidence' and the 'mode of suspicion'. The second section is dedicated to the topology of culture in 21st-century capitalism. Groys sets out from his observation of the privatization and fragmentation of archival space. Humanity is entering a 'new virtual Middle Age', where individuals are engaged in a series of self-installations, travelling through a string of heterogeneous valorizing spaces (e.g. personal websites). The 'chance' of genuine art in these conditions lies in its withdrawal from exchange. As inexchangeable 'commodity corpses' demanding eternal preservation, artworks can provocatively indicate the possibility of a 'life after capitalism'. His considerations also lead Groys to discuss his notion of Soviet Communism as an installation in pursuit of the wish to 'step out of time'. The third section centres on the problems of politics and critique. Responding to a question about the political potential of art, Groys proposes consideration of the increasing intensity - presently illustrated by the conflict in the Middle East - with which politics acts in the realm of aesthetics. The interview closes with reflections on the possibility of intellectual resistance. Referring to Nietzsche and Adorno, Groys locates the potential of opposition in a resentful critique of time: a 'rejection of everything' and the insistence upon the possibility that what is will vanish.

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