To inaugurate the Machete Group’s new series, cure Thinking the Present, Part 2: Figures of Critique, we shall consider the contemporary relevance of negation within the field of cultural production. The idea of negation remains a source of inspiration for artistic practices that aspire to critique. Against what Herbert Marcuse termed “affirmative culture,” or art which secures only an inner freedom while affirming the actual conditions of existence, the majority of critical art movements aim to negate the lived practices of contemporary politics and culture. But how do we define negation? And how exactly does the negation occur if lived experience continues in a field beyond culture’s control? Is negation truly desirable, or are there other more powerful paradigms for politically engaged aesthetic practice today? The discussion will be framed by readings from Theodor Adorno, Guy Debord and Alain Badiou and introduced by Avi Alpert and Alexi Kukuljevic.
ABOUT THE MACHETE GROUP
The Machete Group organizes workshops, mini-seminars, reading groups, screenings and other events open to the public that have as their general focus the intersection between artistic practice and its theoretical articulation. The guiding proposition of the Machete Group is the claim that practice without theory is empty and theory without practice is blind. The goal of the center is to engender a rigorous and open atmosphere outside a strictly academic context that encourages autodidacticism, a willingness to question all forms of mastery and specialization, and the desire to think critically about artistic practice in an historically, socially and politically astute manner.
The Machete Group is an international consortium of artists and intellectuals based at Marginal Utility Gallery in Philadelphia. The Group runs the magazine Machete, offers seminars on current issues in the arts, and is invested in developing new collective forms of artistic and intellectual practice. Its members include Avi Alpert, David Dempewolf, Etienne Dolet, Ludwig Fischer, Alexi Kukuljevic, Holly Martins, Gabriel Rockhill, Theodore Tucker, and Yuka Yokoyama.
The Machete Group seminars are monthly workshops on current issues in the arts run by Alexi Kukuljevic, Gabriel Rockhill and Avi Alpert (as of fall 2010).