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Thomas Hirschhorn: »Bic« and Political Commitment
»Bic« and Political Commitment
(p. 83 – 85)

»I lead a battle«

Thomas Hirschhorn

»Bic« and Political Commitment

Thomas Hirschhorn shows in two articles why we should not be making »political art«, but making art political. By rejecting classifications such as »political art«, »art engage«, and »politically engaged artists«, Hirschhorn establishes a definition of art based on the interrelationship between »love«, »politics«, »philosophy«, and »aesthetics«. He thereby defends art whose politicity lies in artistic activity and not in a political commitment. This distance, which dissociates Hirschhorn‘s position from an art of opinion-making, allows an autonomous work of art to emerge that does not deplete itself in its context, but confronts reality head-on.

During my »Très grand Buffet« show in Fribourg, someone noticed that the works from the »Virus«, »Merci, Danke, Thank You« and »Les larmes« series were done in ball-point pens. And this person asked if I drew with »Bic« ball-point pens and said that the company »Bic« is a financing supporter of Le Pen. An information in an official journal on the financing of political parties announced this fact. It’s shit to support Le Pen. But it’s also shit to have to think about these questions. I use »Bic« ball-point pens because they’re cheap and you can find them everywhere, they’re simple and fit well in my hand. I like using ball-point pens because everyone knows them and uses them. It’s a choice in relation to their universality, their non-color, their non-distinction. For me, working with ball-point pens is a political, artistic choice. Meaning I try to do my artist’s work politically in using this medium, for example. It is something I firmly believe as an artist. On the other hand, if I did a political work I shouldn’t be using »Bic« ball-point pens, but who do the other companies support politically? What about the ink pens, the markers? Should one work with a »Mont-Blanc« to have a clear conscience and belong at the same time to the elite recognisable by their writing material? Obviously I don’t ask myself all these questions, because I want to work and act. But I don’t want my energy to be taken over by information and informers who are conscientiously both politicized and impotent. Too much consciousness kills art and too much consciousness canalizes all the vital energy, stopping revolt from existing. What these overly conscious people forget is that I lead a battle. I fight a combat whose outcome seems to me uncertain but that I certainly won’t win by hiding behind a formalized, verifiable political commitment that is conformist and reassuring. I want to fight for more equality and justice, human equality, human justice. By doing my artist’s work politically, by asking myself questions politically and not by asking political questions, and by doing political with meaning. 

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Thomas Hirschhorn

is an artist. He lives and works in Paris. Selected Exhibitions: Das Auge, Wiener Secession (2008), 24h Foucault, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005), Swiss-Swiss Democracy, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris (2004).

Other texts by Thomas Hirschhorn for DIAPHANES
Tobias Huber (ed.), Marcus Steinweg (ed.): INAESTHETIK – NR. 1

Um das Thema »Politiken der Kunst« gruppieren sich die Texte der Nummer 1 der Zeitschrift INAESTHETIK. Gibt es einen politischen Auftrag des Kunstwerks? Wie bestimmt sich der Ort des Kunstwerks im sozialen Feld? Wie verhalten sich Kunstproduktion, Kunstkritik, Kunstwissenschaften und Philosophie zueinander? Ist Kunst zwingend kritisch: institutions-, markt- und ideologiekritisch? Oder setzt das Kunstwerk noch der Kritik und ihrem guten Gewissen Grenzen, die aus ihm eine riskante und vielleicht notwendig affirmative Praxis machen? Liegt der Sinn in diesen immer wieder mit dem Kunstwerk verbundenen Kategorien des Widerstands und der Subversion nicht auch in einer Art Selbstberuhigung, die es dem Künstler und der Künstlerin erlaubt, am politischen Spiel ohne wirklichen Einsatz teilzunehmen, sodass das politische Bewusstsein die Funktion einer uneingestandenen Entpolitisierung übernimmt? Wie affirmativ muss ein Kunstwerk sein, um subversiv oder politisch sein zu können?