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Bifo on Hito Steyerl's Book "Duty Free Art"


At the Verso blog, Franco “Bifo” Berardi responds to Hito Steyerl’s recent book Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War. Bifo reflects on the metaphors of darkness and light found in the book, and examines the way Steyerl interprets the political and cultural “maladies” of the present. Here’s an excerpt:

The science of politics is not useful in understanding the contemporary crisis and prefiguring the imminent evolution. Nothing is more empty, inconsistent and superficial than the pseudo-science called ‘politology’. What we need is an interpretation of our maladies as symptoms of this tendency. I would call psycho-manteia the interpreting of maladies.

Duty Free Art, in my view, is a psychomantic book.

Sadness, depression, panic, attention disorders, the dementia epidemic: these are the symptoms that we need to interpret in order to act prophetically, to interpret the enigma of ‘future’. We will not discover some secret, necessary truth, only the symptoms of possibility.

The (infinite) activity of interpreting the enigma (of malady as enigma) is the action of generating future, of creating events that are never exhaustive, never true, never final, but always unstable as the interpretation of an enigma.

This is why great politics is similar to poetry, the intuition of the possibile. The low politics we are witnessing today is limited to our management of the probable, the way we pit the probable against the possible (Statistikon is the name Warren Neidich gives to this reduction of the possible to the probable, which is is turned into necessity by the prescriptive machine).

Image: Still from Hito Steyerl, “Being Invisible Can Be Deadly,” TateShots. Via YouTube.