Pattern in resistance
Interview BY MARIA BORDORFF
I have been told that the word “text” is derived from the Latin texere, which means “to weave”. Where did your interest in working with language come from?
Language is a field where opportunities and limitations interact, and I have always been fascinated by that. But when we speak of language in relation to this work, we really speak of text, which is a different, more systemic thing. The construction of texts becomes almost architectural – just as a textile, a woven fabric, is a kind of architecture. I am interested in this architecture as a precondition that is simultaneously creative and restraining.
The words in this work, ‘over’ and ‘under’, refer back to the weaving of the textile itself and to the repetitive action of weaving. But then there is a third word, ‘anxious’, which becomes a kind of mantra as you read the text; how does this relate to the whole?
It becomes mantra-like, yes. It becomes something manic, something that intrudes and repeats itself. The word ‘anxious’ appears on a par with the words ‘over’ and ‘under’, which refer to the movement of the threads in relation to each other, and so they become an integrated component of the system. In the text featured in the MFA Degree Show catalogue I refer to a text by Institute for Precarious Consciousnessabout the changing phases of capitalism. Each phase is associated with a dominant affect, and in the current phase the dominant affect is anxiety. Anxiety is part of capitalism’s strategy.
The title of this work is Selfmachine (pattern in resistance). A “selfmachine” produces itself, by itself (?) Should we understand this in light of the phases and “strategies” of capitalism that you refer to?
Yes, you could say that a selfmachine works like that. I suppose there is an inherent automatism in the notion of a selfmachine. In a sense, a selfmachine consumes itself in order to reproduce itself. There is a pattern in that. And it seems reasonable to think of capitalism and capitalised man as selfmachines. In this sense the word takes on a certain duality: it refers both to the structural issues that produce affect and anxiety, and to those conditions that are, as it were, “self-afflicted”.
You have also worked with repetition in your earlier works – what significance does repetition have for you?
I think there is something exciting and perhaps a little manic about repetition. This has to do with the exercise of power, but also with the possibility that something can be shifted or displaced through reiterative processes, perhaps becoming something else or something new. What is more – I also see repetition as a potentially anti-capitalist action. I myself can find pleasure in writing the same words on page after page, simply to see a pattern emerge on the paper. There’s not a lot of capital growth in that.