Thomas Hirschhorn’s work is a politically committed artistic reflection on contemporary reality, always using a wide range of techniques and media like sculpture, video and installation, but also employing material taken from everyday life, like adhesive tape, cardboard, plastic, paper and the imagery of our media society, making his style unique and immediately recognizable.
The eight booklets composing the piece Where Do I Stand? What Do I Want?
Can be considered a radical manifesto of the artist’s purposes and ideas. By means of an extremely personal artistic production, Hirschhorn puts together texts, drawings and collages, making the inspirations, aspirations and motivations that guide his work emerge. Excerpts from Joseph Beuys, Alexandre Costanzo, Andy Warhol or Che Guevara are combined with drawings, photographs and symbols taken from diverse sources, and are complemented with notes and underlinings by the artist himself.
Where Do I Stand? What Do I Want?
offers a glimpse at the personality of an artist whose prolific production is an attempt not only to define his role in the world, but also to “call at arms” those who still do not consider themselves fully and actively involved in politics. To Hirschhorn, the art piece is a weapon: his creations represent statements and aggressions against the capitalistic system that heavily influences the social and cultural life of each individual. His clear and frequently declared points of reference are philosophers like Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, Antonio Gramsci and especially Michel Foucault, whose thought is however interpreted from a perspective that Hirschhorn would define humanistic: “As an artist I do not need philosophy because I do not use philosophy to make my work – I need philosophy as a man, as a human being.” As an artist, Hirschhorn asks himself: “How can I take a position? How can I shape this position? How can this form create a universally shareable truth, beyond political, aesthetical and cultural customs?”
The answer he provides is an overwhelming but rational new elaboration of cues and ideas, according to an always inclusive and anti-hierarchical aesthetical and theoretical approach that combines together politics, aesthetics, philosophy and life: “I don’t work against chaos: I want to work within the chaos of the world.” And further: “I want to work with the precarious and in the precarious. This is to be understood as the ‘political’. The political is to understand the precarious not as a concept, but to understand it as a condition. A condition that is a matter of accepting – frenetically and in awareness.”
Hirschhorn creates works that are charged with social and political critique, always starting – as the artist points out – from an individual perspective leading to the construction of models and systems that allow us to come to universal truths. To Hirschhorn it is of central importance not to loose sight off the social – and therefore universal – intention of his work: “I can only reach the universal if I risk conflict with my inner self. ‘The personal’ doesn’t interest me because it’s not resistant in itself, it is always an explanation – if not an excuse. My work can only have effect if it has the capacity of transgressing the boundaries of the personal, of the academic, of the imaginary, of the circumstantial, of the context and of the contemplation.”
Today there is great confusion about the question concerning what ‘Political’ and ‘political’ are. I am only interested in what is really political, the ‘Political’ with a capital P, the political that implicates: where do I stand? Where does the other stand? What do I want? What does the other want? The ‘political’ with a small p, the opinions and forging of majorities, does not interest, and has never interested me. For I am concerned with ‘making my art politically’
Link to the website created by the artist to inform about his latest installation, exhibitied at the Swiss Pavillion, 2011 Venice Biennale: www.crystalofresistance.com