Thursday, March 15

Buying In or Selling Out

We know the title of Just Kick It Till It Breaks comes from the Angry Brigade’s 8th Communique or, if not that, the back of Tom Vague’s book about the Angry Brigade (or some other book like it). (The back of Vague’s book, by the way, is also reproduced with the 8th Communique at the above link.) We get all that. But what I am wondering now is whether the title was suggested by Josephine Meckseper? Or, if not suggested by Meckseper herself then by one of her pieces: Selling Out? Notice the copy of a book about the Angry Brigade in Meckseper’s piece? You can read the “wall label” about this Meckseper piece on her Saatchi Gallery page. It sure is interesting that this particular piece is also used to “illustrate” Meckseper’s page. Of course, the connection between Selling Out and (the title of) Just Kick It Till It Breaks is by no means obvious. It is completely indirect. And I think it’s something that, to use the title of Bozidar Brazda’s work (also in the show), only “Insiders” would get. It is something of a nod or a wink. I say this because how many people in the world have the Angry Brigade’s 8th Communique in the forefront of their minds? The Angry Brigade in and of itself is a difficult reference to get (unless, maybe, you are from the U.K.) or a punk who read Vague (back in the day). I would even contend the reference may even be a bit oblique for your average American Situationist-head too (because they tend to dwell on Debord’s writing). So, after putting all this out on the table, what I am beginning to wonder is whether Selling Out is a footnote pointing to Just Kick It Till It Breaks? Or is Just Kick It Till It Breaks a footnote pointing to Selling Out?

What I am talking about here is like the concept of the index explored by Rosalind Krauss in her famous essay “Notes on the Index” (in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and other Modernist Myths) but it’s different. It functions in a more peculiar and particular way, and I think the concept of a footnote actually captures it better. Footnotes have an indexical function, but they also have a parenthetical one. I would argue that it is this parenthetical function that is relevant here. The footnote used in this way formally exemplifies Jacques Derrida’s concept of the supplement, the engine (or rather monkey wrench) behind a deconstructive reading. But, I would add that what formally distinguishes Just Kick It Till It Breaks (the show and the work in it) from Derrida is in the way these deconstructive elements are built-in. Perhaps a better way of saying this is that the deconstruction is written into the work. At first it seems as though this is an anti-Derridean effect because it privileges the one who is doing the writing. Derrida’s ideas, I would argue, privilege the reader—not the writer. But, the truth is Just Kick It Till It Breaks is merely anti-Derridean in the same way that Derrida (the cryptic and impossible to understand writer) is also anti-Derridean.

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