CAVEAT READING ROOM #16: DOING NOTHING 30 Aug 2021 16:00 - 18:00 Online through Zoom With Katya Ev and Vanessa Joan Müller

Notes contributions include: ### david@totalism.org

0 Introduction by Julie (Caveat team) 2 Introduction by Katya 4 Introduction by Vanessa about her interest in Ideas of nothingness, empty exhibition spaces 6 Introduction by Jesse about technical aspects, recording and dramaturgy of the reading room.

Malevich's 1921 text: http://hylaea.ru/uploads/files/page_8194_1469352597.pdf (in Russian) https://shifter-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/malevich_laziness.pdf (English translation)

0:11:40 Katya starts reading Why is work so great? 0:21:30 Vanessa: Antonio Carnevale pointed out that 'laziness' may have been difficult to translate from Russian - maybe more like 'non-objectivity'?

Ethymology of "lazy" in Slovenian ("len"): https://fran.si/193/marko-snoj-slovenski-etimoloski-slovar/4288320/ln?FilteredDictionaryIds=193&View=1&Query=lenoba from latin "len"; english "lenient" https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=lenient

Katya:relation to perfectionism: 'len' means not striving to perfection. In an other part of the text (not part of today's reading room, essay of 26 pages), Malevich gives the example of God who after creating the world in 6 days is sitting somewhere doing nothing.
"a state of not searching to do otherwise"

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne_travaillez_jamais

Socialism: equal access to laziness.

1921 = 4 years post October Revolution initially supportive, by this point, he was already critical, but also on the defense(?) Malevich wrote several texts about his vision of communism

30 Vanessa "artists might be in a position to think beyond binaries" (activity/inactivity, etc)

Katya: Duality: laziness as a state of being <-> laziness as rest. Malevich rather seems to approach this as a state of being. "Ruble is a piece of laziness": Laziness is economically provided by labor. Is it a class privilege or a dissident position ?

Jose Segebre: ruble? rubble? dollars <-> ruins as pieces of laziness

45 D: "I'd like to understand more of the context of publication, and if Malevič might have had updated his positions expressed in the years before his death, in relation to the geopolitical situation Soviet Union found itself in" 1921 is between two Soviet economic epochs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_communism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Economic_Policy

Vanessa: in 1921 Malevich was still painting suprematist works. He was a teacher then, but had to stop. 05/04/1961 decree on "fight against individuals avoiding socially useful labour and leading an antisocial/parasitic lifestyle" Katya: It defines labour in a way that is in direct relation to being employed by the state. Because of this law, people like Josef Brodski have been sent to labour camps.

Related: https://www.nytimes.com/1970/07/21/archives/soviet-union-continues-to-debate-old-issue-of-guns-vs-butter-old.html

David: I don't think socialism/communism had something against artists - that's a misunderstanding. Also, the Soviet Union's eventual dissolution was ultimately the result of a lack of productivity. The social & political backgrounds have to be taken in consideration when trying to understand the decrees of the 1960s: first come arms, then comes butter, then comes art. I personally would have been a peasant (or engineer) in the 1960s. Wouldn't you?

Soviet and Russian productivity: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Soviet_Union_GDP_per_capita.gif Soviet and Russian demographics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_Soviet_Union#/media/File:Population_of_former_USSR.PNG

Danilo: is there a third way to rethink inactivity (post-pandemic-way) outside the binary capitalist-communist opposition. And outside individual privilege, so re-gaining the value of refusal of work as tactic to manifest social discontent. Laziness for the postpandemic period "Laidback movement" <-> "lying flat" relation: laziness, refusal of work, and, privilege?

"can [refusal of work] it again become a strategy that would have leverage"

1:06:00 Vanessa: Bartleby (Melville): "I prefer not to": doing nothing as an act of sabotage

1:12:00 Vanessa on Mladen Stilinovic's In Praise of Laziness (1993). We read the text. Katya: Stilinovic writes "Anyway it's in vain" -> create artistic forms that are not destined to bring a result.

1:22:00 Danilo: in the US, Stilinovic' approach leads to much confusion. Yet it ages better than Malevich's text. Also it highlights a moment in history when capitalist and non-capitalist art weren't divided/opposed anymore.
Ties to Mark Fisher's "competitive individualism", as in Capitalist Realism

1:34 circa David: Danilo, I wanted to ask a detail about your students confusion, do they understand the difference between Yugoslavian public funding model of artistic work, and American lack of it, after the 1930s Federal Art Project anyway Danilo: The issue is in part related to the fact that they do understand on an abstract level, and therefore they dismiss the focus of the text altogether

David: I was wondering what we now about those Chinese artists who do experience a communist and a capitalist reality at the same time - as opposed to Stilinovic's idea that an artist one cannot have a communist and a capitalist experience. I will forward this text to some academia in China to see what their art students think of it.

Mladen Stilinovic about the "east vs west" experience

David: China is not "the most capitalist country in the world", it is socialist with Chinese characteristics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_with_Chinese_characteristics

Danilo: American students don't get Stilinovic, however from experience some classes I've had with Asian students, they "didn't understand the idea of being an artist without fabricating something (material)"

David: Katya, how do you relate to Proletkult, Alekander Bogdanov's 1910-1920's art movement? When one's working in a factory, especailly when you're not 'maximized', it's relatively idle: one can still chat with co-workers, drink, etc. A positive, non-hostile reading of the Soviet project would IMO need to include a reading of Proletkult's potential for both (critically neccessary) industrial productivity, idleness within a proletarian work culture & art. Katya: It's not at all my reference, although I have very critical ideas regarding soviet state projects in art & culture. But Proletkult's idealism is beautiful. Doubts about art initiatives which come from the state / top down (?) David: Distinction between industrial work in socialist contexts and present-day capitalist work (Amazon etc). Proletkult: soviet artistic & industrial

David: OK, I personally though equally have doubts about Bourgeois art (vs Proletarian art as put forward by proletkult)

Vanessa: It's high time to find an alternative form of art production.

1:56:00 Danilo presents himself 1:57:30 David presents himself