Failure to transmit ~ introduction by Ruth Noack
"What is non-transmittable form?" The subject of this question does not really exist yet. Indeed, most attempts by the convenor of this symposium to define it have ended in failure so far.
Nevertheless, it might be a question that needs to be asked today, as a means to counter the pervasive and insidious ways that a globalised art world has swept away all the hard questions that need to be asked and answered. Instead, it looks like all that is needed are smart curators who will recognise the intricacies of art world power relations, while shifting art works like goods from one continent to another and flying in performing subjects at a moment's notice.
While this might legitimise art practice and exhibition making, it does not, by default, produce meaning and experience that matters.
It is time to start asking what might resist this transnational trade of objects, people and networks? This symposium will address the potential of form to resist. It is necessary, however, to emphasise from the start that the non-transmittability of form is not to be equaled to resistance per se. Any form might be only provisionally or only occasionally non-transmittable. Much depends on the context in which - and methods with which - a form is meant to be transmitted - or not. Does this mean that non-transmittability has to be actively sought out, imbued with agency and introduced into our fantasies, if it is to become resistant? Or is it one of those phenomena that show their resistance by confounding anti-essentialism and thus, ultimately, defying the idea of the human subject in control?