Kodwo Eshun conducts a tour of the exhibition, asking a series of curatorial questions regarding Schizo-Culture: Cracks in the Street. He refers to the show, which is packed full of archival material from the publishing house Semiotext(e) around their conference in 1975 Schizo-Culture: On Prisons and Madness, as a time-capsule, but, more importantly, as an active contagion of the ideas of the conference.
Eshun discusses various components of the show: vitrines which invite you to "move close, to begin to construct certain relations" between the objects they contain. He discusses the meaning of ephemera such as Ramones lyrics to "Teenage Lobotomy" and their relationship to trash cartoons at the time. Punk, he says, is about horror, about enjoying horror, indulging in it, owning the abject and especially the relationship towards owning your subjectivity. The vitrine, he says, works as something of a diagram of the role torture played in relationship between the America of the 70s and the America of today. It's easy to draw continuities between the two times, but what is more interesting, he suggests, is "looking for the continuities that exist within discontinuities".
Continuing by turning his attention to pages from zines, he talks a little about the history of zines of anti-psychiatry groups and democratic control of psychiatry.
What's really interesting, however, is his discussion of the "wallpaper" of images, some from Semiotext(e) books but also assembled from general visual culture. It's more complex than a simple timeline, he suggests; it concentrates on the simultaneity of the project, of the mesh of ideas merging. This gets to the core of what Kodwo claims is the core question the show asks: How do you exhibit a journal? How do you really demonstrate what happens with the creation of a journal - the network, the ideas, the conversation that produces it? How do you represent relationships?
This is raised in the following talk, particularly by the curators, as they wrestled with those questions. Kodwo says the issues as still so vital, and the ideas within the exhibition so critical, that the content needs to find a new audience. But what seems to be missing is a discussion around format. Why were the original ideas first presented in a journal? There seems to me to be a critical difference between how these formats disseminate that discussion. Representing the ideas in an exhibition format is perhaps a result of the way we consume information and ideas today, and the speed at which they are consumed. Whilst one of the speakers talked about how, when art arrives in a gallery, "it is somehow finished", it's also the case that an exhibition like this acts as an intensifier. The structures of the art world, in terms of PR and the literature around it, help turn discourses like this into a site of focus and amplify the ideas within it. That said, there's also a sense of ossification; if not recuperation, then certainly an issue regarding the production or exploitation of nostalgia around the form. I wonder what a show such as this would look like stripped of the ephemeral object; with words themselves being the only survivor.